Nadia Jeelani is a first-year Philosophy, Politics and the Public major. She is a guest writer for the Newswire from Cincinnati.
Last week, I walked past a couple of students writing pro-life messages on the sidewalk on my way to the C-2 Lot. The message that stuck out to me the most read “pro-women, pro-child, pro-life.” I am 34 weeks pregnant, and this message may seem very empowering toward women and children. However, the message contradicts itself here on Xavier’s campus.
Being pregnant is not easy, especially as a college student. I see the stares from other students as I struggle to walk from the parking lot to class. I have doctors appointments that cut into my study time or class time. I am constantly exhausted because I have trouble sleeping with an ever-growing fetus in my belly. I am extremely emotional because of my pregnancy hormones. Sitting in a more than hour-long lecture can get uncomfortable because of my need for many bathroom trips. I have to advocate for myself to professors more than other students because of my many issues that may seem small but they add up. I am pro-women because I have learned to take the matters of my success at Xavier as a new mother into my own hands.
I have talked to my success coach, professors and academic advisor on how to navigate being pregnant and how I will navigate college next semester with a newborn. Their answers are very limited. I commend Xavier for providing resources for people who have disabilities, providing resources to keep a diverse and accepting campus and providing resources for people who are struggling academically on campus. But I struggle to get through school every day because I have no resources or support provided to me to help with the issues I discussed previously. There is a gray area for pregnant students because it is not quite a disability or a medical condition. I could go through disability services, but being pregnant is not a disability and shouldn’t be looked at like one.
What resources should Xavier provide for pregnant students, then? Many campuses have people or expertise solely reserved for helping pregnant students succeed, such as helping provide counseling services, notes for classes that we miss and people who advocate for our success, not just as a student, but as a mother who is expecting. Many campuses provide parking spots for expecting mothers or mothers with small children. Many campuses provide day care, which is one of the most important things that could help a new mother in her success as a student. I will not even be taking classes on campus next semester because there will be no one to watch my child. I am willing to go through anything for the success of my child, even if it sets my success back. I am pro-child because I put my child’s best interest before my success.
Being pregnant on a pro-life campus has been one of the most difficult challenges of my life. I hear the anti-abortion messages of pro-life students, but they don’t care about the child’s well-being nor a mother’s success as a student.
There is this expectation for pregnant women not to have an abortion, yet the pro-life campus provides no resources for their students who are pregnant or have become new mothers to be successful. Practically no one has helped the advancement of my child’s life here on campus except for my professors. Xavier, to be more specific, is pro-birth and not pro-life because it only cares about the abortion piece of the child’s life. I am pro-choice because I care about more than just the abortion piece; I care about how the child will succeed in life. I will choose whatever is deemed necessary for the child’s best interest.