Gabby Saechao was in her first year of college when she heard those two dreaded words: “You’re pregnant.”
At first she was in denial, but there was no hiding it. "My mom knew straight away; she was really suspicious," Saechao said.
Saechao decided to keep her child, and nine months later she gave birth to her son, Aiden. At first, she didn't get any sleep. Those three months of nightmarish crying were her introduction to being a parent.
Fortunately for Saechao, she isn’t Aiden’s only active parent. His father, Isaac Hagens, is very much present and has worked hard to keep food on the table.
Still, Saechao has had trouble keeping up with her friends since Aiden was born. She said that making plans with friends can be a disappointment when you have kids. "Sometimes they'll get sick and sometimes they'll just need you. And you don't want to leave," she said.
Aiden is the most important part of Saechao's life now. She went from having a wide circle of acquaintances to only a few of her closest friends. "Having a child you have to think more about taking care of him," Saechao explained, "and just give up on all the silly ideas you have about going out and having teenage fun I guess."
Saechao had been attending college to major in English so she could become a teacher, but she had to postpone her schooling while taking care of Aiden.
She had a while to look at what she wanted to do, and make some important choices. For example, Saechao realized that she needed to have more job stability. So she decided to change course and pursue an education in either medicine or computer programming.
One of Saechao's major shortfalls is math; an important component to code. She visits Khan Academy to improve her math and science skills and Code Academy to learn basic programming. These are just two of many online resources she uses to self-teach some of the important skills she’ll need when she returns to college.
When asked what keeps her going through all of this, Saechao answered that it's the idea of a better future. "That’s really all you can hope for your kids, to have them mature and follow their dreams," she said.
Recently, Saechao was hired as a cashier at a home improvement store. It’s a small step, but she’s proud. "Everybody did something to help me and Aiden in some way," Saechao said. "I need to learn to stand on my own feet. As much support as you can get, you can only get help if you help yourself."
Saechao plans to return to college next year, when Aiden is two years old.
RadioActive is KUOW's program for high school students. This story was produced in RadioActive’s Spring 2014 Workshop. Listen to RadioActive stories, subscribe to the RadioActive podcast and stay in touch on Facebook.