Senior Sidney Talbott often gets stomach viruses, so when she started to feel unwell at the end of last year, she thought nothing of it. She went to Cottage hospital and received a diagnosis she was not expecting.
“They told me I was pregnant. I was like ‘Okay. Wow. Are you serious? Is this really happening?’ I was also excited. I talked to my mom and asked her if I should keep [my baby],” Talbott said. “It was just like emotions were everywhere. I was nervous and scared. I was happy and sad.”
Talbott wasn’t sure if she’d be able to finish school. Though she was a senior at the time, she needed to complete a fifth year. Despite those worries, Talbott decided to keep the pregnancy while still attending Knox.
“It was hard because I had to walk everywhere since I don’t have a car. I had to miss some classes because I was so sick,” Talbott said.
Talbott’s friends, seniors Taylor Grims and Elizabeth Bell were huge parts of her support system. They came to every doctor appointment and helped Talbott with her morning sickness.
Senior Dalton James was also scared to learn that he was going to become a father. Like Talbott, James had never planned to become a parent while attending college. When the baby’s mother came to his house to break the news, James was in total shock.
“It was absolutely terrifying. I found out over the summer before my junior year,” James said. “It was really hard. I just had no idea what to expect. I had no idea how I’d be there for [my child].”
Nonetheless, James was determined to prove himself. He knew that a baby in his life would be a huge blessing, even if it was scary at first.
“I just told [the mother] we could do this. I told her that I’d be the best father I possibly could be and I’d help her through it,” James said.
For James, his parents were worried and weren’t sure how he’d manage, but came around once they met their granddaughter. Ava Genesis James was born on Feb. 19, 2018.
“[She was born] late at night, around 2 a.m. if I remember correctly. I cried the day she was born, I felt all the love in the world for her,” James said. “It’s a love you can’t really explain. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just a love you’ll never get again.”
During Talbott’s delivery day, she was terrified to go through labor. She initially planned to have the baby in Galesburg, but after her mom got nervous, Talbott was driven back to her home-city of Chicago at 2 a.m.
“I was just like, ‘this is really gonna happen, I don’t believe this,’” Talbott said.
Talbott was so exhausted from labor that she also broke down crying when she first got to hold her daughter. De’Lani Bolden was born on Nov. 11 2018.
“She’s just the happiest baby. She’s just always bursting out laughing. It’s been amazing watching her grow,” Talbott said.
For Talbott, becoming a mother has changed every aspect of her life. She has to be more fiscally responsible now that she’s taking care of another life. Doing homework can be a huge challenge when she’s balancing that with taking care of a baby.
“I try to help whenever I can. I’ve cleaned a few diapers. There are a lot of children that I help take care of back at home, so it’s pretty easy for me,” Bell said.
With the assistance of her friends and some financial support from the father of her baby, Talbott has been able to keep afloat. She’s also had to take some extra shifts at the Gizmo in order to be able to provide for her baby.
“My entire mindset has changed. I’m always thinking about [my daughter] and how I can set a good example for her,” Talbott said. “That’s why I’m continuing with school so she can see me do this and get my education.”
James has also had to rely on his friends to help him. James’ daughter lives with her mother, so James can only see her during breaks. Being apart from her has taken a heavy emotional toll.
“My friends showed me the most support they ever [have]. They’ve helped me out financially and emotionally, there were a lot of days … where I was upset because I couldn’t see her or be there with her,” James said.
For James, a student athlete, one of his happiest moments was when he got to walk around campus with his daughter during the athletic department’s senior day. He hopes to get her into sports as quickly as possible.
“She’s been the biggest blessing in my life. I am so much more motivated because I want to be able to provide for her,” James said. “I would tell anyone about to become a parent that even though I was nervous, you shouldn’t panic. It’s an amazing experience.”
Talbott is currently taking a black education class with Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Dr. Nate Williams which has made her aware of how she wants to manage her daughter’s future. She wants her daughter to have as many opportunities as possible. For Talbott, it’s important that she can keep her daughter blissful to the struggles she herself faced growing up. Talbott comes from a rough neighborhood in Chicago, so being able to use her degree to provide for her daughter is imperative.
“With so much violence happening I feel like I have to protect her and get her away from Chicago, because there are a lot of shootings happening,” Talbott said. “I need to get her away.”