Cannady shatters teen pregnancy stereotypes, prepares for birth of baby

Shravani Page | Staff Writer

There is a stigma attached to any high schooler who decides to follow through with the challenge of motherhood. A stigma a Mason High School junior is now living with.   

Amy Cannady is about 30 weeks into her pregnancy.  “It’s scary, getting pregnant as a teen,“ Amy said. She remembers “feeling nervous and really overwhelmed” the week of April 2nd when she learned that she had made a decision that would now change her life forever.

Amy has grown to become more careful regarding her lifestyle choices. Many limitations have been set in her life, including limitations on who can come in with her on trips to the doctor’s office. The pandemic overall has presented additional stress to an already stressful situation as her boyfriend hasn’t been able to be a part of some crucial moments during her pregnancy. 

“I don’t want to get sick,” Amy said. “There’s so much going on right now. Even my boyfriend can’t come into the doctor with me. It can only be me, and they want my mom to come in since I’m a minor. It sucks because he couldn’t come for the first ultrasound and listen to the heartbeat. It was just me and my mom.”

Finding a balance between work, life and school has been a challenge. Along with online school and doctor’s appointments, Amy has recently taken up a job as a receptionist to help care for the baby. Organizing her schedule has been a key for her to help manage her increasingly hectic life. 

Despite her initial disappointment, Amy’s adoptive mother, Tara Cannady, focuses on developing a strong support system to help her daughter maintain balance in her life. “If she wants something, she gets it,” Tara said. The family aspect of the pregnancy has been vital for her daughter in her journey so far. 

“I am her backbone,” Tara said. “I’m here no matter what, for anything she needs.”

Although Tara is ecstatic for the baby’s arrival now, she does admit to being in mere disbelief at first. She admits to being “scared, mad, and upset” initially. However, she believes that after “you get over that initial reaction, you realize you can’t change it, it’s going to happen, and [you have] to make the best of it.” 

Amy is the youngest of two adopted daughters and is now carrying what will be her mother’s first grandchild.  Tara said that she cannot wait to become a grandmother. 

It is easy for Tara to be excited for the baby, as her daughter and grandchild-to-be will continue to live under her roof after the birth. For the child’s father, Amy’s boyfriend and Lakota Readiness Academy junior Diego Mota, the situation is different. Only about 1 of 4 teen fathers live with the mother before the child is born and more than half do not live with the mother or child after the child is born, according to The National Fatherhood Initiative and MTV. For Amy and Mota, living together is not realistic right now. Despite this, they try to maintain good communication with each other which they hope will evolve when the baby is born. 

“At first my boyfriend was shocked,” Cannady said. “But he’s been trying so hard and now he’s got the situation under control. I didn’t know if I could do this and felt alone. Now I realize I have all these people that will help me.”

As a soon-to-be father, Mota finds himself facing a new responsibility that he did not anticipate. Similar to Amy, at the time he received the news he remembers feeling “really overwhelmed, not knowing what to do in the moment.” 

Since that week of April 2nd, Mota has recognized his personal growth. He has found himself maturing and has experienced a shift in his priorities — one of those being the safety of his girlfriend and child-to-be amid a pandemic. His hope is to see Amy more after the baby is born. 

“[Amy] barely comes over here because of COVID,” Mota said. “Once the baby is born, I think we’re going to be a lot closer. I hope we can celebrate Christmas together, whether it’s with my family or hers.”

While statistics show that academic performance tends to suffer among teen fathers, Mota is dedicated to working against the numbers.  He also found a job working with Amy at a local animal care facility in order to contribute more towards the baby’s care. He has found himself having to become more organized. Prior to the pregnancy, Mota said he was just “living life.”

“[Before the pregnancy] I was doing horrible in school,” Mota said. “I was doing things I wasn’t supposed to do and in school, I was failing a lot of classes. Now that I know that she is pregnant, I have to push myself the hardest I can.”

Initially, Mota faced a lot of criticism from his family. He said they were very angry at him. He felt scared of what would happen. But eventually, his parents began to grow accepting. Mota and his family concluded that dwelling on the past would not bring much of an outcome. His family’s support has made the situation easier for him to mentally process.

“When I first told them, I thought they were going to kick me out of the house,” Mota said. “The family has been really supportive. We have to move on and go forward with it. Now they’re excited for me.”

Overall, Mota said his greatest challenge throughout this pregnancy has been a switch in mentality. This experience has allowed him to grow and mature. He has seen many changes in his mood and in his attitude toward life.

“I used to be a lot more depressed and really sad,” Mota said. “But now with this baby, I have to push myself. I have to go out of my comfort zone.”

Despite Amy’s support system, there still is controversy about teenage pregnancy. There remains a stereotype that many teen moms tend to “drop out of school” and “lose control of their life” after they get pregnant. Cannady is striving to break that stereotype.

“[Pregnancy] has changed me,” Cannady said. “I wasn’t a very good kid. I was always hanging out with the wrong people doing the wrong things. I don’t do any of that anymore. I chose to improve myself for the baby.”

Tara said she believes that “the stereotype is the same for every pregnant teenager” and when they encounter that situation, their best option has been to “accept it and move on.” Cannady believes the key has been generating that support for Amy and “being excited for her.”

“You wouldn’t ever plan on anything like this happening,” Tara said. “But when it does, you have to accept it and make the best out of it. They’re sixteen and you want them to be kids, not to grow up so fast, but it’s happening right now for us.”

There was a moment for Amy when she realized the reality of the situation. A moment that struck her and inspired her to keep moving forward. That moment was finding out the gender of the baby. Around mid-December, she will be bringing a baby girl into the world. 

“My belly wasn’t noticeable until 20 weeks when I found out the gender.” Cannady said. “I couldn’t feel the baby kicking and I didn’t look pregnant until about that benchmark. That’s when I realized that this was happening, for real.”

For Cannady’s mom, the moment came more gradually. Tara saw her daughter becoming more mature and growing from who she had been in the past. She had stopped doing “typical rebellious teenager things” and had “cut out all the drama.”

“I’m still in the process of acceptance,” Tara said. “When you see her belly growing you realize that there is a real baby in there; this is really happening.”

Photo contributed by Caitskee Photography