July 23, 2021

Athlete juggles struggles of being a teen parent, while doing high school sports

Hemingford student Kamryn Ash’s day starts like many other high school students. She wakes at 5:30 a.m. to get her day started. Before getting herself ready for school, though, she has to get her baby fed and ready for going to the babysitter.

Being a mother has its own challenges, but being a high school student adds a whole new set, Ash said.

Ash, who will be a senior in the fall, said once she gets her son, Asher, and herself ready, she begins her long day, she said.

It’s very tiring. I almost fall asleep in certain classes, she said.

Ash’s day doesn’t end when the final bell rings at school, she was also competing in track and field in the spring.

I would go to practice around four, she said. Because I do hurdles practice is a little bit longer, or shorter just depending on what our coach has us do.

After practice wraps around 6 p.m., she picks up Asher. By the time she gets him fed and ready for bed, it is around 10 p.m. and the cycle starts again.

Ash, though, said she is fortunate to have the support system she does have. She never has to hunt for a babysitter, she said.

We have a set schedule, she said. On Mondays and Thursdays, the mom of her boyfriend, Greg Randolph, watches her son. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, my grandma watches them, and then Fridays, we alternate between my grandma, (Greg’s) mom and my dad. And then on Tuesdays if my grandma can’t watch him, we have a friend’s mom who will, so we have babysitters left and right, Ash said.

First finding out she was pregnant

Ash’s first thought when she found out she was pregnant was that she had to tell her parents, as well as Greg’s.

My first thoughts were my parents are gonna kill me, Ash said. They took it a lot better than I thought they were. I had to tell both of our parents by myself because (Greg) was already at college. I called his sister and had her help me with his parents. Everyone was really supportive.

Ash said it she was a little overwhelmed in the beginning of her pregnancy.

It slowly got better the more I started feeling him. He started moving around and that kind of eased some of the anxiety. It was more comfort than anything, she said.

Then, Ash and her family developed their plan on where she was going to give birth, but those plans would be dashed.

I was originally just going to have him in Alliance. I was in labor for an entire week. We I spent that entire week up in Alliance trying to stop my contractions, she said.

The doctors in Alliance realized they were unable to stop her contractions, so Ash was sent to Scottsbluff to give birth, she said.

Ash ended up giving birth to Asher a little early.

He spent 10 days, I believe, in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). He was supposed to be there for the full six weeks, but he’s kind of our little rock star, she said.

After giving birth, Ash had to eventually go back to school.

Probably about the first three weeks (after returning to school) were the hardest because you already have an attachment, and then you’re already having to leave him. We already had a schedule set at the hospital, so it was easier there, she said.

Once she got home with Asher from the hospital, her routine changed again.

We hardly got any sleep because he didn’t want to sleep (in the first weeks), so I didn’t go to school until probably about four weeks after I had him. I only went for three hours a day (at first).

Maintaining a sense of normalcy

Ash stayed active after she first found out she was pregnant. She played volleyball for Hemingford High School in the fall.

The doctors gave me the go ahead, they just said I couldn’t dive (for the ball). Other than that, it was just a normal game since I never played back row, she said.

Ash was too far along in her pregnancy to play basketball in the winter, but was determined to compete during the track and field season in the spring.

I was hoping the entire time that he would have been early. Not as early as he was, but early enough that I could still do a track season. His original due date was March 17, but he was born six weeks early. I was at a place where I could fully do an entire track season, which I was thankful for, she said.

Just a little over a month after giving birth, Ash was competing in hurdles at the Morrill Early Bird Track and Field meet on March 27. Ash finished in seventh place.

Ash said, thanks to her support system, she has been able to still do the same things as other teenagers. She and Greg were able to go to prom.

So far, everything’s pretty normal in that aspect, she said. Homework is a little bit harder and trying to balance everything.

Plans after high school

For the most part, Ash said her plans for her future beyond high school haven’t changed much.

Everything stayed the same other than college sports, she said. I had recruiting pages all set up I could talk to coaches then and everything. College sports was the only (plan I had) to change.

After graduation, she is planning on moving to Kearney to go to college at the University of Nebraska — Kearney and she also has a sibling who lives there, she said. Meanwhile, Greg is studying to be a pilot. Ash said she is looking forward to the next chapter in her life.