When now 17-year-old Kiersta Moore found out she was pregnant, the first emotion she felt was fear.
“I had no idea how I was going to be able to take care of a baby,” she said.
In the way of most teens, Kiersta told her mom via a text message.
“I was driving and she sent me one from the back seat,” her mom, Dawn Holen said. “I pulled over and told her she had three options: Abort, adopt or keep, and I’d support her either way. She said she wanted to keep the baby and I said, ‘Here we go.'”
The Washougal High School senior is now the parent of a 15-month-old girl, Makaylie, and plans on attending college.
But it’s been quite the adventure for the young single mom and her mother. Moore did what she could to prepare for baby Makaylie by taking a parenting class and drawing on her experience helping out in daycare centers. After a relatively smooth labor came a sometimes bumpy transition to motherhood.
“At first it was really, really hard,” Moore said. “Especially leaving her at home to come to school.”
Since Holen watches the baby, Moore realizes she is luckier than many teens moms in her situation.
“I have more freedom,” she said.
This year, she even wrestled for the Panthers, although she admits it was a difficult time.
“I had wrestling or matches six days a week, then I would have to come home and take care of Makaylie and do my homework,” she said.
Like most mothers and daughters, Moore and Holen disagree about how much freedom the 17-year-old has.
“I give her a lot of freedom,” Holen said. “When the baby is at her dad’s, her only reasonability is to keep her room clean. I just let her go and be with her friends. Other times, I make her come home. She calls me ‘mean’ sometimes, but I tell her that every time she says that, it’s because I’m preparing her for the future.”
Despite taking six weeks of maternity leave during school, Moore has kept up with her grades and will graduate on time with her class in June. She said the school and her teachers were very supportive.
“They sent home a tutor and my assignments, so I was able to get everything done,” she said.
Moore’s friends often remark on how cute Makaylie is and how fun it would be to have a baby. She quickly corrects them on the ‘fun’ part.
“I tell them, ‘take mine for a day,'” she joked, then added on a serious note. “I also tell them to look at my life and the stress I go through.”
Of course, there are the wonderful moments as well.
“Sometimes when I’ve had a bad day, she will do something really silly and it makes it all better,” Moore said, smiling at her daughter.
After she graduates, Moore plans on taking a year off to work and focus on Makaylie. Then, she plans to go to college and become a preschool teacher.
“I want to have another child someday, but in the far, far future,” she said.