Photo courtesy of Michelle Jurado
Senior Michelle Jurado gave birth to Amari Santana Cruz January 24, 2022. Since getting pregnant, her perspective has shifted.
“I was with [Amari’s] dad [when I found out I was pregnant]. The next morning, my mom was like I need to talk to you, she told me it’s okay and [she was] going to be there for me. I was not excited at all, I was in shock. It was a lot of feelings,” Jurado said. “[Now], I’m most excited about having my own little person, taking care of her and seeing how it feels to love a [person] so much. It’s so crazy, this little girl made me see everything differently. She’s making me feel love, even though she’s [just] a couple days old.”
Jurado grew up with a single mom as a role model and hopes to pay her back for all she’s done to support her.
“My mom is a single mom. She’s really hard working [and is] the main reason why I push myself so hard. Seeing all the struggles she’s been through, taking care of me and my siblings [makes me want to make her proud]. All the stuff I grew up seeing, like my little sister’s dad not being in her life and my dad not being in my life, [I’ve learned you have to] work hard for everything [and I] want to do the same for my daughter,” Jurado said.
Jurado is thankful for her mom’s support, despite past tensions. This shift in perspectives affected her relationship with her family as well.
“My mom [and I] were never really close, but then, especially once I got pregnant, the way I saw everything completely changed. Before, I was a bad kid and rude to my mom, rude to my siblings, rude to anybody. Now, I just look back at it and I regret it so much. How could I do that to my own family? My mom has helped me so much and even after all the things that I’ve done to her and put her through, she’s still really supportive and there for me. I love her so much. So is my sister, she’s really supportive too. She’s like my other mom because she acts more protective than my mom is. I love my family, they’re all just the best and so supportive,” Jurado said.
Jurado also has support from her circle of friends. She has received few negative comments from others overall about her pregnancy.
“Most people in my circle are really supportive. The times I have gotten negative comments have just been outside of school, older people, not really any people from school. [Most] people have [reminded me that I’m] going to be okay,” Jurado said. “My friends have really helped me. I get a lot of stuff from everybody, like diapers, wipes, everything. Everybody [has been] asking me if I need anything, they’re always there for me.”
Jurado’s family and friends surprised her with a gender reveal party in the midst of going through a hard time. Her family taking the time to put together this party made her recognize how much support she has.
“I didn’t even think they were going to [have the party], but then I saw my whole family and friends there to support me and getting my baby stuff. That made me feel so much better. Especially because I have to do it alone basically,” Jurado said.
Jurado’s family placed a restraining order against her baby’s dad due to the relationship turning abusive while she was pregnant.
“I kept it a secret from my family because I always wanted to have that perfect family. In my head, I was like, I’m just going to let him do what he wants, just so I could have that picture of a perfect family. He [got into] drugs, I told myself I could change him. I was always telling my mom she wasn’t going to be around my baby since she would call the police on the dad. I was so rude to her, but then my mom got a restraining order on him [that pertains to him being] around me or our baby. It’s hard to believe that my baby’s alive right now. It was really bad. After we got the restraining order, I started seeing that I couldn’t change him. I just have to worry about my baby and make sure she’s okay. [I realized that] everything I felt towards him [and] wanting to change him and thinking I was going to have that perfect family, I’ll have that one day with somebody else. There’s somebody that will love me enough and treat my baby like their own,” Jurado said.
She recognizes her growth since the beginning of this relationship, freshman year. Jurado hopes her mom will recognize how much she’s changed too.
“I’ve changed so much [since the beginning of high school]. Freshman year, I was doing a lot of stuff I was not supposed to be doing. I was getting in a lot of trouble. I didn’t even care about school at all [or] about myself either, but now, like I said, I see everything so differently. I just want to do better for myself. I owe it all to my mom. I want to keep working hard and one day make her so proud of me. I just want her to forgive me and see that I’m trying to be better for myself,” Jurado said.
Jurado has stayed on top of her schoolwork as well while pregnant, to be able to graduate a year early.
“This school year has been really tough for me. [However], every other year, I was slacking [with school work], but I’m working really hard this year. I have straight A’s [and] I’m just trying to do whatever I can to make sure I graduate this year. [I want to] get high school out of the way, so I can go to college and work,” Jurado said. “I’m going to go to Blue Ridge [Community College] for two years and then I want to transfer to a university in Virginia [and] become a social worker. I’ve always wanted to graduate early, even before I found out I was pregnant. I want to work more and even though I’m in school, I [used to] work two to ten every day at Walmart. I love working so much and making money, it’s the best thing for me.”
Graduating early and being able to work again is important to Jurado to make sure she can provide for her baby, which is her top priority.
“What I’m scared of is letting her be free. I don’t want to be overprotective, I want her to be able to trust me, but that’s going to be so hard to let her do her thing and not worry so much about her. Also, I’m just scared that I won’t be able to provide for her, but I know that I have a lot of support and that’s not something I should worry too much about,” Jurado said.
Jurado hopes people know her goals and drive to succeed for her little girl, her family and herself.
“I just want people to know that I’m not one of those girls that gets pregnant and they just forget about high school, forget about everything. Most people see teen moms as kind of trashy, but I’m not like that. I want to keep working hard and doing good,” Jurado said. “[I want to] do better for myself and my baby.”