Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
My name is Mayra Yundt-Pacheco. I am 22 years old. I am the Policy & Data Intern at the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and am currently a dual degree Master’s student studying Policy and Public Health at the University of Texas- Austin. I found out I was pregnant, two weeks after starting my Master’s degree. I completed the first year of my Master’s degree while pregnant. I presented my final for my Economics class and then gave birth to my daughter, Sofia, that same night. Although it was challenging, I felt lucky to be pregnant during my master’s rather than undergrad. Most of my classmates were older than me and some had families of their own. It made for a supportive community that was able to give me insight into my pregnancy and motherhood.
I requested a medical leave of absence for the current semester (Fall 2020) so that I could take care of myself, spend time with my daughter, and focus on being a mother. The University was pretty understanding of my leave.
Q: What is your experience with sex education in Texas?
I grew up outside of Dallas and went to Lovejoy High School. The only thing I can remember about our sex education is a yearly presentation where a woman came to speak to us in the auditorium. She told us she was a 40 year old virgin and told us her life was great. She showed us a power point of a happy couple and then the following slide would be them angry at each other. It was meant to show how having sex before marriage complicates things. I don’t think anyone took it very seriously. Kids who made the decision to not have sex in high school or not have sex until marriage did not make that decision because of that powerpoint. No one went to that presentation with their thoughts undecided. I think the presentation was given too late and the content wasn’t as relevant. I was a late bloomer. I didn’t hit puberty until I was 18 years old so I wasn’t really interested in anyone until I was a bit older.My school never went into the effectiveness of different types of birth control. They spoke to us as if condoms and abstinence were our only options.
In middle school, they spoke to us about puberty. We were also shown a slideshow of STDs and “what would happen if we had sex”. It was shame and fear based rather than helpful.
Q: What would you wish that you were taught about sex?
I wish they had taught us about consent. I didn’t really learn about it until I was in college at Texas A&M. I wish we were taught about different types of sex, not just centered around male pleasure.
I think that having someone who was a young parent, a teen parent, or doctor come to talk to at our high school school would be way more impactful than someone who was a 40 year old virgin.
Q: Share your pregnancy story!
My boyfriend (now husband) and I went to get wine and paper towels at HEB. While we were there, he thought to get a pregnancy test because my period has always been irregular. It was very casual and I wasn’t concerned. When the test came back positive, I assumed it was wrong because we had bought a cheap one. We went back and bought three of the more expensive tests. All three were positive. I even made my boyfriend take one to make sure they weren’t malfunctioning. I was 21 at the time.
I decided that if I was less than nine weeks along that I might not go forward with the pregnancy. I went to a federally funded emergency women’s clinic for a more official test. They confirmed that I was pregnant and told me I was 9-10 weeks along. The doctors said things like, “congratulations, mom!” which I thought was inappropriate because they didn’t ask me how I felt about the pregnancy.
I was kind of mad, but I was also in complete disbelief that I was pregnant. I’ve only had one serious boyfriend (now, my husband). We always used condoms. I just couldn’t believe this was happening to me. My husband grew up in a very Christian household and sex was a taboo topic. He was very supportive of me. We had talked about marriage before I found out I was pregnant, but I assumed it would happen after we finished school.
We got married in March at a very casual legal ceremony. We will have a real wedding in May 2022. It was important to my family that we get married before I had Sofia. I can understand why that was important to them, but I really wanted to focus on being a mother first, without adding that extra step of being a wife. It was a lot happening at once. I didn’t need to get married to pretend that the pregnancy was something we had planned. It added a lot of pressure and anxiety.
We’re living with my parents right now. Once I decided to take the semester off of school, I knew I would move back with my family. My support system has been unreal. My mom has really been there for me, my friends are there for me. I’m the first of my friends to have a baby so everyone was really excited. Sometimes the overwhelming positivity was suffocating, but it was also so needed for me when I was feeling down. I can’t say enough good things about the support system that I’ve had. The support helps me focus so much more on the good parts of being a mother and made the transition into this new part of my life with the least amount of resistance. My life has changed. My parents have been so supportive about me finishing my degree. I took on my second master’s after I had Sofia. They have made a massive difference.
Even with all the support, love, and help, it’s still been a hard experience. I feel for women and girls who go through this and don’t have the support I’ve had.
Q: What do you wish you’d known before getting pregnant?
I would have been on birth control. As soon as it was safe after giving birth, I got the Mirena IUD. I love my daughter, Sofia. She’s an amazing gift, but that being said, I want to finish my degree, I want to have a career, I want to be able to get back on my ADD medicine!
My mom wasn’t ok with birth control so I was a little afraid to talk about it. I didn’t do my own research. I wish I’d known about resources and organizations like the Texas Campaign. I used condoms and thought that was enough. My friend told me that birth control could make you infertile. It made me feel like being on birth control was bad. I was also nervous to get on it because I thought my parents would see it come up on their insurance.
Q: Can you share a memory about a person or service who was most helpful to you when you were pregnant?
While I was pregnant, definitely my mom and the Bradley class. The Bradley class is a 12 week course for a husband coached childbirth. Birth can be super empowering, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of younger parents get to have that experience. Just because Sofia was a surprise, shouldn’t mean that we didn’t deserve to have a good experience. The class helped us connect with parents and have community. All of the people in the class were first time parents and we all had babies born within a few months of each other.
Q: What do you want people to know about being a young parent?
I read a ton of blogs about young mothers when I found out I was pregnant. I messaged one of the bloggers and she told me my life wasn’t over. I wouldn’t recommend having a child at a young age, but it has worked out for me. If you do, your life isn’t over. The narrative we push on women that you have to choose between kids and a career is so disempowering. That’s something I found through this journey– I didn’t cease to exist when I became a mother. That was my biggest fear and it’s not true.
Don’t be arrogant or ignorant like I was. Be proactive about the choices you make. It really just takes one slip up to get pregnant and your life changes forever. Be safe every single time!