And Nine Months Later…

Lasharay had to get used to carrying a child in her body down the halls. Now she’s getting used to caring for it


Lasharay Daniels sometimes sings to her baby when she’s home. That is, she sings when she’s not at school, or trying to do homework for the next day, or working long hours at her job. She’s a high school student, and her baby is not yet even a month old.
Before her baby was born, Daniels spent nine odd months trying to adjust to caring for two people, her and her child.
“I was crying all the time because I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Daniels said. “‘I’m a teenager and I’m pregnant, and people are going to talk about me and be mean to me,’” she thought.
She didn’t know how her future would pan out with a baby, or how her education would continue with another mouth to feed.
“I kind of got depressed when I found out. I thought my life was ruined. I was like, ‘how am I going to go to college?’ But my mom made sure I was going to go to college,” Daniels said.
She considered her choices.
“I didn’t know what to do at the beginning. I thought about giving her up for adoption, but I didn’t want to go through all that and give my baby away.”
She made the decision to keep her baby, and didn’t spend long considering other options, but it took a while to warm up to the idea of being a mother.
“It took forever for me to get comfortable with it. I wasn’t comfortable until I was seven months [in],” Daniels said.
Still, during those nine months of teenage pregnancy, she was struggling to keep up in school and balance her studies with work.
She walked back slowly. Carrying a baby wasn’t easy, she realized.
At McDonald’s, where she worked, she found some coworkers were unsympathetic to her problems, working late hours, sometimes to midnight.
“They did let me sit down,” Daniels said. “They always put me in the back so I could sit down, but I don’t like to sit down. I like moving around.”
Daniels has been proud of the support she’s received from her family and her baby’s father.
“My mom watches her a lot, and her dad is with her when I’m at school,” she said.
Daniels’ boyfriend and the baby’s father, Lawrence Pickett, recognizes Daniels’ hard work.
“I have to give her props, because you don’t see a lot of pregnant women who are still motivated to go to school and go to work and do all this stuff. And they might not be big things to her, but they’re big things to me,” Pickett said.
“It makes me proud that I have her as my girlfriend and the mother of this child. She’s really dedicated, and she still tries in school. That’s what makes me feel proud, that she went to school and work and did what she had to do.”
Daniels and Pickett decided on naming their baby Nyla together.
Before deciding on that, they toyed with different names, entertaining the idea of naming her Latha, which Pickett said means creeper.
“No, we were not going to name her creeper. We did look for L names because both our names start with L, but not Latha,” Daniels said, laughing.
Daniels spends much of her time with the baby, but still focuses on school. Even though she has tried to keep up, Daniels still sometimes has trouble finishing her work.
“I do get really tired and fall asleep in class, but I try not too. In my English class we’re reading Hamlet, and I don’t have any time to read at all,” she said. “Ms. Hanson says, ‘read whenever you can, because I know you have to take care of the baby and all.’ They [my teachers] are pretty understanding.”
She’s trying to normalize her schedule, though, and with her baby’s father and her mom helping she’s finding a little more time to study. She’s even looking forward to college.
“Everybody always asks, ‘what are you going to do about school?’ I went to JCCC and they said I could enroll in their spring classes and take online classes,” Daniels said.
But she’s thinking about taking a semester off, with the baby to care for and all.
“Next fall I was going to enroll in JCCC. That would give me time to be with the baby before going to school. I was going to go through college, go to medical school and become a neurosurgeon,” Daniels said.
Spending time with the baby, Daniels says, usually entails playing with her until she falls asleep.
“When I get home from school she’s ready to eat, depending on whenever my mom fed her last. I feed her and change her diapers and play with her until she falls asleep.

And she always falls asleep,” Daniels said. “When she’s up I’m excited and I just want to play with her.”
“She smiles all the time,” Daniels added. “It’s so cute.”