LIMA — Ayana wonders what she will get her daughter for Christmas. As a young, single mother, Ayana often finds herself overwhelmed by the responsibilities that come with being a mother and a teenager, carefully balancing her studies with work and parenting.
But with Christmas fast approaching, Ayana — not her real name — needs help with groceries, gifts and basic necessities.
Things have been tough for Ayana and her family since she found out she was pregnant.
Ayana was still a teenager, unprepared to raise a child alone and not anticipating the reaction she would receive from her child’s father, still her boyfriend at the time, or her family. Her child’s father grew harsh, Ayana recalls, while her mother expected her to take on more responsibilities than she was ready for. Ayana also developed postpartum depression, compounding the stress she was under at home, at school and with her newfound role as a mother.
“They told me I could have lost my baby because of all the stress I was going through,” she said.
Ayana and her daughter are staying with family while Ayana finishes high school. She works part-time, trying to earn enough cash to help with the bills and feed her daughter now that she’s no longer eligible for WIC benefits (a government nutrition program for women, infants and children). Still, Ayana is glad that her daughter is healthy.
“I go without eating just so she can eat,” Ayana said.
Things are still tough for Ayana. She finds it difficult to focus in school, and wonders whether she will be able to pursue college or vocational training after graduation. She can only work several days each week, but still has to figure out how to feed her daughter. And she’s now sleeping on the couch at a sibling’s house while she figures out whether she can afford a place of her own.
“It’s all about the baby at this point. I care about what she needs,” Ayana said.
Ayana needs help buying food for her daughter, who has transitioned off baby formula and now eats solid food. She needs help buying clothes — size 12-18 months for clothing and toddler’s size 5 shoes — and diapers too.
And she hopes to give her daughter educational toys for Christmas, like blocks and other toddler-appropriate games or educational videos.
“We’re trying to get as much help as we can.”
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.