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As a high school student, Sarena Chansombat was excited to graduate and attend college away from home, but everything changed when she took a pregnancy test at the Fresno EOC Community Health Center. She never imagined being a teen mom but with support from her family, boyfriend, and Fresno EOC Adolescent Family Life Program, Chansombat was able to overcome the challenges of her pregnancy.

“When I found out I was pregnant I felt overwhelmed with emotions,” she said. “I was so scared for what was to come ahead, but I was happy and relieved that my parents were supportive.”

During her pregnancy she struggled to keep up with school while working full time and struggling with health complications. Although becoming a first time parent was difficult, Chansombat remembers her AFLP case manager helping her every step of the way.

“She made me feel very comfortable about my pregnancy, Chansombat said. “I would learn so much from her and what she teaches my boyfriend and I. If she didn’t teach us about what it would be like when in labor or how swaddle a baby, I would be unprepared to take care of a new life.”

Getting through her pregnancy was only one part of the challenge. After having her son, she was faced with returning back to school after missing over 5 months due to stress and health concerns.

“Everything was just so overwhelming and I just couldn’t take any more stress,” Chansombat said. After enrolling in an independent studies program she was able to catch up with her school work and complete her high school diploma earlier than she expected.

“I honestly didn’t think I would graduate high school,” she said. “I’m the oldest in my family and it was upsetting for them when I got pregnant but it made me happy seeing how proud they were when I graduated high school.”

Before giving birth to her son, finishing high school seemed impossible, but now Chansombat looks forward to college and hopes to become an OB/GYN. During her pregnancy she realized many young moms, including herself weren’t prepared with the education they needed to have a child.

“When I’m around other teen moms they ask me a lot of questions about being pregnant.” Chansombat said. “Not many schools teach students about puberty, their body or resources they can use. I didn’t even know I was able to get reproductive health care.”

The support from case managers, family and medical professionals relieved much of the stress she had during and after her pregnancy. Chansombat encourages other young parents to ask for help and support throughout their pregnancy.

“I am glad I had multiple support systems in my life.” she said. “As a teen parent I’m more responsible and aware of what I do. I had to learn about starting a savings account, daycare, WIC, food stamps, organic baby food and cloth diapers. I’ve learned so many things about being a parent; I’ve changed myself for the better.”

Through her own experience she hopes to continue learning more about being a parent and a role model for young moms.

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