Bismarck High School senior Shailee Folendorf was a typical teenager before she got pregnant at 16. She was on the honor roll, had a lot of friends and rebelled like many teenagers do.
“I got into some trouble,” Folendorf said. “I did things I was not supposed to do.”
Folendorf had been on contraceptives since she was 13, so when she started dating her now ex-boyfriend, she never imagined getting pregnant.
“The actions I was doing were bound to have consequences,” Folendorf said.
Many teens who have become pregnant are scared to tell their parents: Folendorf was no exception. Folendorf’s mother, Julie Folendorf, was disappointed at first because she thought Shailee did not know what she had gotten herself into.
“I was worried, like any mother would be, how she would handle the extra responsibility,” Julie Folendorf said.
As the pregnancy continued, Shailee Foldendorf started to see the realities of being a teen mom settle in. The father went to one ultrasound in December of 2013 and has not been in the picture since. She also had to be cautious with her health.
“While being pregnant, if I got sick, I had to make sure to take the right medications and the right vitamins to make sure the baby was healthy,” Shailee Folendorf said.
While Shailee Folendorf continued to grow during her pregnancy, she says she faced prejudice from individuals around her. Many individuals thought she was not going to be able to raise a child. They thought she would get nowhere in her life.
“I never cared about what anyone else thought,” Julie Folendorf said. “I have always believed everything happens for a reason. I was more concerned with how people were going to treat Shailee.“
On May 26, Shailee Folendorf gave birth to her daughte,r Kyrie. When Kyrie was delivered, she experienced meconium aspirations —inhaling meconium while still being covered in amniotic fluid at birth — and was kept in the NICU for 10 days.
“Shailee has had to grow up fast,” Julie Folendorf said. “There are a lot of responsibilities with becoming a mother, but even more when you are a teen mom and still in high school.”
Shailee Folendorf’s day is busy from the time she gets up to the time she goes to bed. Her day begins with getting herself ready, then getting Kyrie and a diaper bag ready. On the way to school, Shailee Folendorf, along with her mother, drops off Kyrie at daycare. After school, she picks up Kyrie from daycare and goes home to care for her and do homework.
“Kyrie is a very fussy baby, so just adjusting to having a baby around the house is a change,” Julie Folendorf said.
Shailee Folendorf explains that homework is the hardest part about juggling school and being a teen mom.
“Most teen moms go to an occasional school, like South Central, where there is not a strict due date on assignments. I chose to return to BHS where everything has a due date,” she said. “It is hard to do homework when Kyrie wants attention, but just because you have a child so young does not mean you cannot accomplish what you need to accomplish.“
Shailee Foldenforf says she does not believe the TV show “16 and Pregnant” is an accurate representation of being a teen mom. She says the series makes it seem easier than it actually is.
“Every time I hear of someone my age getting pregnant, I think people do not realize the challenges,” Shailee Folendorf said.
Although being a young mother, she has planned a bright future for herself and Kyrie. Shailee Folendorf would like to take off a year or two before going to college. She would like to go into cosmetology or get a teaching degree.
“My greatest hope for Shailee is that she is able to graduate in January as planned,” Julie Folendorf said “My greatest hope for Kyrie is always being healthy and always knowing how much I love her.”
From her experiences, Shailee Folendorf has advice for all teenagers.
“My advice is to make sure you are using protection and to think it through before you go off and do it,” she said.