The Conflict Zone with Young Motherhood

A Q&A about the struggles of being a mom and college student with a graduate who gave birth to her son senior year.


Photo by Ryleigh Eades

Ainslee holds Everett at the park close to her home. She recreated some of her maternity pictures with Everett when he was three months old.

Maria Vargas, Reporter

Ainslee Smith is a Heritage Alumni who graduated with the class of  2019. She discovered she was pregnant her senior year and gave birth to her baby, Everett, on April 25, 2019. 


What was it like  the moment you knew you were pregnant? 


“It was one year ago on August 28, 2018 when I took the pregnancy test. It was kind of funny because I was suspecting it for a few days and I actually found out right at four weeks [of pregnancy]. I wasn’t even late [for my period] yet but I was already feeling weird. The day that I actually took the test I just got home from school and I was like, ‘I’m tired of thinking about this I’m just gonna take one right now and if it’s negative I’ll take another one the day I’m actually supposed to get my period.’ The first one that I took was positive. Part of me kind of already knew just because the way I was feeling was different and I hadn’t really been careful. Actually getting confirmation and knowing for sure though made my blood run cold and I thought, ‘Oh, so I guess I have to do this now.’ My mind started processing about the whole next nine months, ‘I have to tell my parents, I have to tell Everett’s dad, I have to go to school pregnant, my whole body’s gonna change, holy crap I have to give birth.’ I had to go to work an hour after I took the test and I took the test with me because I couldn’t stop staring at it, like I was waiting for the line to go away.”



What were your parents reactions?


“The morning that I told them I ate breakfast (and I never eat breakfast); I was eating yogurt and toast. My mom was on the phone with my dad and she was like ‘There’s something wrong with our daughter, she’s eating breakfast,’ and my dad was like ‘Is she pregnant?’ 

I told them two hours later. Their reaction wasn’t anger per se, because they knew I was having sex with a guy but I was also on birth control so it was just surprise and worry more than everything else. They weren’t really mad that I was pregnant they were mad about who the dad was. My mom started crying an hour later because she just started getting in her head about my future and how I’m going to do college and what my life would look like from here on out. My dad took it pretty well, he was just sitting there and said, ‘I’m gonna be a grandfather?’ I think their initial reaction could’ve been a lot worse.”



When your friends found out you were pregnant, how did they all react?


“The first two girls that I told tried to convince me to get an abortion. But the first girl I asked to be the host to my baby shower—because my original host couldn’t do it—told me I only message her when I need her and she stopped talking to me, so I lost that friend. The other friend that told me to get an abortion is actually supportive of me now, but I wasn’t happy when she told me [to get an abortion]. My current best friend I’ve known since middle school, but we had English together and when I found out I was pregnant I just mentioned it to her and we’ve been inseparable ever since; she was even there in the room when I gave birth.”



How did your teachers/administrators respond once they found out?


The big thing was substitute teachers who would come to my class; my teachers and everybody already knew [I was pregnant] but subs would come in and I was immediately judged as soon as I walked in the door. One sub refused to make eye contact with me or acknowledge that I existed. For the most part my teachers were really good about it.”



Did people try to avoid eye contact or stare at you?


I got people staring at me. But mostly I just got a lot of looks from people, not even a whole lot of dirty looks, just like curious looks. There was one day that I was walking in school and I had on this tight dress that went over my bump and so this chick was watching me walking in the hallway, and she was like, ‘Are you a teacher or a student?’ and I told her I was a student and then she just responded with, ‘Oh’ and gave me a look.”

Ryleigh Eades

Everett lays down on Ainslee’s bed while she grabs him a new set of clothes. Ainslee’s dog, Rita, licks his head and lays down to snuggle next to him.


How did your pregnancy affect your school life? 


“I missed a lot of school for doctor appointments. My pre cal teacher uploaded the lessons onto Google Classroom and recorded them so I could watch them and do the work from home. It wasn’t impossible to catch up but I just missed several days of school and I had to make sure I wasn’t missing to many hours. I also had lots of meetings with the counselors. I had a mental health counselor for everything going on with the father, and I had my regular school counselor hooking me up with the other counselors. Then I had the homebound counselor who was talking to me about how things are going to go down after I have him [Everett], and then I had my college counselor who was helping me get into Collin.”



What were some everyday struggles that you had but didn’t expect to have?


“It was kind of weird if I had to take my brother to the store because then people would think my brother was my boyfriend and we were having a baby together, so that got weird. I was really uncomfortable because I was pregnant all winter, and being pregnant, freezing cold and your clothes not fitting you the right way is not a fun mix. Also at Tadlock, I had to tell my students I was pregnant and that was kind of awkward. When their parents would come pick them up and it’s obvious how young I am, I got some looks for being this pregnant teenager teaching their kid at school. It was rough going from being super slim and having a nice body to looking at myself in the mirror and all of a sudden I’m fat and there’s weight in my face and my collarbone is gone. It was just hard on my self image, even though I knew it was because I was pregnant it’s not easy watching yourself get fat after working really hard to have the body that you had.”



What was the best part of your pregnancy?


“The best part was probably just feeling him grow as the weeks went on. As I got bigger I could feel him move more and [in] the last few weeks I could identify which body parts were touching me. So just like from the moment I found out [I was pregnant] I knew he was in there, but when he grew a little more I could feel him grow and move around and it was a really cool feeling.”



What were the worst things about being pregnant, especially in high school?


“The looks that I would get was a little difficult. Also I had really bad sciatica so having to move was extremely painful around 16 or 20 weeks because he was putting himself on a nerve. I remember trying to walk from English to Art one day and my back was hurting so bad that I was crying by the time I got to my art classroom. There was a sub and she was like ‘Why is this pregnant girl crying?, so that was pretty bad. I also lost like 20 pounds the first three months because I couldn’t eat anything. I was extremely worried that he was going to die because I wasn’t eating and near the end I started feeling really guilty about what I was eating because I had this crazy sweet tooth where all I wanted was cake.”



Did you miss any events that you wanted to go to because of your pregnancy (games, prom, senior events, etc) And how did that make you feel?


“I missed my senior Six Flags trip because I had a newborn. I didn’t go to a whole lot of games just because I didn’t want to be the spectacle, so that kind of sucked. I didn’t miss much except the last month of my senior year.”


Looking back into your senior year, would you have done anything different? 


“No, it worked out okay. I wouldn’t have transferred to the SOC because I wasn’t [required] to, and they give you a choice so it’s not like I had to. It wasn’t all according to plan but after I got pregnant it went according to plan. I wouldn’t really change anything.”



What adjustments did you have to make in your daily life?


“I had to go to tutorials in the morning and watch a lot of videos. I went to prom 36 weeks pregnant- I was huge. I had to get a new job at Tadlock Elementary. I had to buy new clothes and pregnancy clothes are expensive because they know you can’t fit into anything else.”



What was the first ultrasound like?


“My first ultrasound was special to me but my family was still getting used to the idea of me being pregnant, so I felt like it wasn’t celebrated a lot. It was kind of awkward just going to the doctor with my mom, and that was my first pregnancy appointment too. The doctor actually worked with my grandfather in the same practice. So it was just awkward sitting there with my mom and my grandfather’s old co-worker. I was excited to get confirmation that it was a viable pregnancy but they didn’t make it feel important. The first important thing that my family actually celebrated was finding out the gender. My mom knew before I knew and she got all excited. My parents told me the gender on Christmas morning and I opened a present that had a little boy outfit in it.”


What was your experience with naming him?


“I really wanted a girl so I only thought of girl names, if it was a girl it was going to be Aylah Ashley but it was a boy. The weeks leading up to finding out the gender I had this voice in the back of my head telling me I should be thinking of boy names too, but I didn’t want to think about it because I was like ‘no it’s a girl’.”

Ryleigh Eades
Ainslee holds Everett at the park
close to her home. She recreated
some of her maternity pictures with Everett when he was three months


How was it giving birth?


“I was scared but I got induced so I knew when it was going to happen. It was quick and easy, from the time they started me on the labor medicine it was nine hours but from the time they broke my water it was four and a half hours so it was less than a day. He was really small so he flew out of me at the speed of light because he was only five pounds.”



What was it like when he first kicked?


“I didn’t know that that’s actually  what it was (kicking) because I was only sixteen weeks and it’s rare to feel it until 20 weeks. So when I was 16 weeks I went to the movies with my friend and there was really heavy bass in the theater and he (the baby) can hear everything on the outside and so he was like I guess kicking around and at first it just felt like a muscle spasm. But then it didn’t stop and it kind of kept going, and I was like ‘is that a kick?’. I didn’t know what it was supposed to feel like and so my mom felt it and she was like ‘oh yeah he’s kicking’. So I didn’t really know that that’s what it was at first, and it actually had been going on for about two days before I mentioned it to my mom. It felt like I was having hiccups in my stomach.”



What do you want to major in? 


“I want to major in education, and be an art teacher. Currently, I’m getting my associate’s degree in art at Collin College. It’ll take me two or three years to do it because I’m only doing part time college meaning I’m only doing two classes at a time. Then, I’m going to transfer to UNT to get my bachelor’s in education. At that point, Everett will be starting preschool so I think I’ll just be going to class while he’s at school or daycare.”



Did Everett inspire your art?


“I have always been into art, ever since I was little. I was in art all three years of middle school, and I gave lessons to this little girl when I was fourteen. I did art every year of high school. Some of the art that I made my senior year though was loosely inspired by him. I did one painting that was supposed to be my reaction to finding out I was going to be a mom. A lot of the art I do these days is of him; I have a whole sketchbook filled with drawings of him. Then my AP drawing concentration was kind of a story told through 12 different pieces and it was supposed to represent this chick that was fighting this internal battle against her negative thoughts and feelings and fighting to find the positivity and the light. That was kind of representative of me and my life after everything went south with his dad, it was me trying to find the positives.”

Ryleigh Eades
Everett sits in Ainslee’s arms while they sit in a field of flowers. She later drew this picture in her sketchbook and posted a video of her drawing on “TikTok.” The video has 75,100 views as of September, 2019.


What is your current living situation?


“I rely on my parents for a lot of things and I enjoy living in their house and having the support that I do. I feel like it wouldn’t be as easy as it is right now if I was doing it alone in my own place. I wouldn’t have any help, or anybody to hold the baby while I take a shower. So I enjoy living here. my parents told me I could stay here until I could afford a house, so I’ll most likely be living here for the next five or six years, unless I get married before then.”



College and baby…how do you juggle all of it? 


“I think I’m doing pretty well handling it all. I do a lot of college while he’s napping and  at night after he goes to bed. Sometimes my boyfriend will come over and hold him and hang out with him for like 30 minutes while I do a lesson. But yeah it’s hard, I’m always tired, and he is a full time job when he’s not sleeping.”

Ryleigh Eades

Ainslee Smith works on her college course while trying to entertain her son, Everett. Ainslee gave birth to him back in April 2019 and has been juggling school and being a new mother since.


What tips can you give someone who is going through what you went through?


“Just don’t panic even if the worst case scenario comes into play and you get kicked out, and your parents don’t love you anymore just don’t panic. There’s always resources, especially the school and the counselors. The homebound counselor specializes in the pregnant girls and the homeless students so if you’re pregnant or homeless, she’s the lady for you. She’ll find you a place to live, help you finish school, just don’t drop out. I feel like it can still turn out okay for people in those scenarios; you just have to seek out the right resources and have the right mindset.”