Unplanned pregnancy teaches teen a lesson she hopes to pass on - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Unplanned pregnancy teaches teen a lesson she hopes to pass on

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When Vanessa Hernandez moved to Sioux City from Mexico in 6th grade, she couldn't speak a lick of English.

"I didn't fit in with everybody because I didn't know what they were saying," described Hernandez.

By freshman year, she dropped out of school.  At 17, she was pregnant.

"I said, 'no, that can't happen to me.  It just can't happen to me,'" she remembered.

But it did.  When Mila was born, Hernandez became 1,300 teens to give birth in Woodbury County in 2012.  She didn't want her daughter to be the next statistic. 

"I like my job, but that's not going to pay my bills, that's not a good example for my daughter," she said.

"I started from zero, I had no credits," Hernandez admitted.

Working toward a diploma and earning skills that will help her in life.

"Recognizing that she's doing this for her child really produced a change in her," said Nathan Vander Plaats, a leader at YouthBuild.

"I was so scared that I wasn't going to be able to get up in the morning and actually pick myself up to go come to school," recalled Hernandez.

Vanessa's about six-months away from getting her high school diploma, but she's not stopping there.  On Monday, she'll start college.

"I wanted to continue my education because I always knew I was smarter than the choices I've made in the past," said Hernandez.

Hernandez will simultaneously finish high school, start nursing school, work her fast food job 30 hours a week and share in the care of Mila with her boyfriend.

"It's not easy," she admitted.

She;'s doing it without her parents who moved back to Mexico four days before Christmas.

"The girl or son is going to leave the nest eventually, and I wish I'd never left the nest that early," said Hernandez.

She knows every teen mom's situation is different but the sacrifices are often the same.  That's why she's sharing her story.

"You have a lot to give up once you have a baby," she said.

The person Hernandez hopes learns the most, is Mila.

"I don't want to catch myself seeing her say,'well you didn't graduate, so why do I have to?' I do not want my daughter to think that's ok," Hernandez said.

Mila may just be a baby, but she's already taught her mom a valuable life lesson, herself. 

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