Your body, your choice

Mommy Issues

I found out that I was pregnant at 13 weeks already past my first trimester. I know it’s hard to believe. Even to this day, my mom thinks that I’m lying to her, that I found out about my pregnancy earlier but didn’t communicate. But I’m not lying; it’s the truth. To be honest, I wasn’t a detail-oriented person nor the icon of accountability.

I was well aware of my personality — it was not exactly suited to raising a child. I also knew that I was still a college student — not the best job for a future parent.

But for some reason, as soon as I saw two lines on the pee stick, I knew that I was going to have this baby. A couple of days later, when I visited the gynecologist and saw the tiny fetus, I became more certain that I was going to have this baby.

Of course, I was shocked to see the little gummy bear-looking thing floating around in my uterus on the sonogram. But I can confidently say that it wasn’t the gut-wrenching, horrible kind of scariness. It was more nervousness that my future was about to change drastically. As we left the hospital, I declared to my husband, then-boyfriend, that I wanted to have this baby.

In contrast to myself, my husband is the second most levelheaded, realistic and responsible man I know — the first is my dad. Our mutual friends used to tease us, saying it was a miracle that two people with such radically different personalities were dating.

As an immature, young girl, I admired and appreciated his “grown-up-ness” — until that day in the hospital lobby, when he told me that we should carefully consider, in all seriousness, if we were ready to raise a child. I was taken aback by his response, as he was always my safeguard, and secretly resented him for his leery response.

Now, post-motherhood, I understand why my husband was cautious about having a baby. It was because he was responsible — so much more responsible than myself. It wasn’t that he wanted to protect his freedom, and not even because of his future plans, which he valued dearly. He was tentative for one reason — the uncertainty of providing financial stability for his future family, which he knew was so important when raising a child, because he was also a student.

Being a privileged, middle-class individual my whole life, I didn’t think finances would be that much of a problem if we raised this child together. I believed in the cliche that love solves all problems. But it didn’t, and money problems were real (and still are). This was a realization I had the moment I was discharged from the hospital three days after giving birth. And it certainly wasn’t the only responsibility that I encountered. I soon realized that for parents, every day is a new day for more responsibilities. Some challenges are merely irritating, such as waking up at 6 a.m. on weekends, having to do a mountain of dishes every night or tending to a cranky little human no matter how tired and stressed I am. Others are pretty major issues, such as how to afford rent, choosing health care plans and preparing for life after graduation in order to be able to fully support my child.

UC Berkeley helps me out with my endless responsibilities. There are so many obligations that would have been impossible for me to meet as a student-parent without the help of this campus. Our school provides the Student Parent Center with wonderful counselors, student-parent grants, family housing, child care and cost of attendance adjustments that make it possible for me to receive quality education. When I developed a passion to learn as I matured through motherhood, the UC system embraced my decision and supported me to pursue education. And I am grateful toward this system.

But the UC system could still do more to support its students — it could provide access to abortion services, as detailed in SB 320. And I can’t help but wonder why Gov. Jerry Brown refused to meet students halfway and vetoed SB 320. Brown failed students who were trying to be responsible — who have the right to chose.

Being a mom requires so many commitments, and the same goes for dads. When I was pregnant, I had no idea the extent of burden that would be put on me as a parent, because I had the privilege of being naive while growing up. And I believe this naivete was the main reason I could decide, without doubt, to keep my baby.

Though I feel grateful for my past naivete, as it allowed me to have such a beautiful child, I can’t help but think about those who have unexpected pregnancies during their time at UC Berkeley — those who exhibit my husband’s persona. Those who don’t have a dependable partner. Those who are pressured by society to be mature — or are just naturally mature. Those who are farsighted and know of the obstacles that they, and more importantly, their baby, will face through unprepared parenthood.They are those who are called “irresponsible” for having abortions when, in actuality, they are as responsible and as grown-up for making this challenging, heartbreaking decision.

Who will support these students if the state doesn’t?

May Choi writes the Monday column on being a transfer student-parent. Contact her at [email protected] .