[natalie]Natalie Archambault walks a bit slower these days. She wears her hair in a ponytail to class three days a week and attends her Army National Guard drills once a month. She goes out on the weekends with friends, but she doesn’t drink and usually she ends up tired and crawling into bed around 11 p.m. She is struggling, like most students, to bring her GPA up a few points before the semester ends. But there’s something that separates her from most other women her age – she only has a handful of weeks before she becomes a mother.
Natalie walks into the restaurant a few minutes late, but it is one of those freakishly winter-esque days in April, topping off at about twenty degrees below the normal temperature for this time of year. She is bundled up in a winter coat, scarf wrapped around her neck and this far along in her pregnancy, a large bump protrudes from her middle.
One morning last October, when Archambault peeked at the pink and white stick resting on the bathroom counter, she knew he life would never be the same. The purple line, as faint as it was, locked in her future as a mother. She thought what any teenage girl would think in her situation. Oh shit. She has just turned 20, and is still in the midst of her college career. Along with all of that, she has the U.S. Army beckoning at will to send her into war.
Looking over the menu, she remarks on how good pizza sounds, it\’s one of her favorite foods. She says she hasn’t had much in the way of weird food cravings, maybe chocolate, but who doesn’t like chocolate she asks. Since regaining an appetite after her first trimester, she has been able to stick to her normal diet.
Archambault, an elementary education sophomore, is expecting her first child, a girl whom she and her boyfriend, Aaron, have already named Addison, on June 28. The pregnancy, although unintended, is certainly an awaited joy for both families. My family was a bit shocked at first, my mom didn’t really believe me, but eventually they got really excited about it,\” Archambault said. \”Aaron’s family was really excited to begin with because he’s a few years older than me so I think they were more ready for the news.”
Archambault met Aaron while attending basic training last year. The couple, both members of the Army National Guard, became inseparable and are now in the pre-planning stages of a wedding. “Things could definitely be a lot worse,” she said. “I am very lucky because I have a lot of support with my friends and family. Without them, I know I wouldn’t be able to do this.”
In the U.S., about four out of 10 girls under the age of 20 become pregnant, according to a 1996 study conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. The institute also reports that about 40 percent of pregnancies with 18-19 year old mothers are accidental. The number drops to about 26 percent for those 20-24 years of age. Nearly half of these unplanned pregnancies end in abortion for these two age groups.
[pills]Abortion was never an option for Archambault. She personally doesn’t agree with it, so she knew she had to figure out how to manage being pregnant in college. She had been on birth control for a few years, but with the rising prices of the pills, she stopped taking them. The price hikes she saw were the result of a Republican-sponsored and supported bill called the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. This bill focused largely on Medicaid, requiring the manufacturers of birth control pills to pay more to participate and since most of the manufacturers gave the pills high market areas like college campuses at a reduced price, they had to raise those prices. A study by the American College Health Association showed that a mere 39 percent of undergrads take oral contraceptives, compared to the estimated 80 percent that are engaging in sexual intercourse. While recognizing that business is business, Archambault still thinks that something should be done to keep the pills at a low price, she said, especially with college kids, because they don’t always make the best of choices.
Archambault certainly feels the cost of the choice that she made. While finishing off her second piece of pizza, topped with pepperoni and sausage, she recalls the stress she endured at the beginning of her pregnancy. I tried to hide it for a little while, at least at school,\” she recalled. \”I didn’t want to tell anyone. I was afraid of what my professors would think.”
Archambault struggled through her fall semester, nearly failing out of school. She suffered from not only morning sickness, but all-day sickness. “I was nauseated, achy, I felt like I was going to vomit at all times,” she said. She had trouble sitting through an entire lecture with the overwhelming feeling. “I literally wanted to die. It was such a horrible time.”
The sickness subsided around Christmas time. \”It was getting pretty bad,\” she recalled. \”I couldn’t keep anything down. I started eating cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.\” Her pregnancy sickness caused her to be placed on academic probation for the spring semester and she has since put forth a tremendous effort to raise her grades. I’m doing pretty well now,\” she said. \”I’ve gotten used to how it feels so I can sit through a class and pay attention.
Archambault is glad Addison is due after spring semester is over. “It worked out well because I’m due over the summer, so I’ll have some time before school starts up again to adjust,\” she said.
[heart]To make the transition a bit easier, she is planning to move back home so her parents can help out with the new baby. “I’m planning on going back to school in the fall, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do the commute [to MSU],” she said. She plans on taking classes at U of M – Flint.
Unlike many women who find themselves pregnant during their college years, Archambault is somewhat lucky because the army is responsible for footing her education expenses. “It’s a great perk,” she said, “but it’s also pretty scary when there’s the possibility that I could get called to go to Iraq as soon as my maternity leave is over.”
Despite the unknown future, Archambault has no regrets. Looking back on everything up to this point, Archambault said, \”I wouldn’t change a thing.\” She gave a smile that only adds to her sincerity and excitement at becoming a new mother. \”Everyone has been so supportive and I really just can’t wait to meet her.\” With the oncoming addition to her family, Archambault still feels her education is a top priority. “School is very important to me,” she added. “I know I’m going to need this degree to get the kind of job I want. No matter how long it takes me, I will graduate.”

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