Teenage parenthood: Postel’s story

Tara Mittelberg

In the February 2012 issue of the Torch we examined the story of Destynee Postel, sr., and her experiences as the mother of a 2 1/2 year old son.

Here is the rest of her story, as earlier reported by the Torch:

From Vol. 42, Issue 08 – Friday, April 17, 2009

By Ashley O’Connor

A crib stands in the right corner of the room; it’s filled with stuffed animals, a mobile hanging over it. Two car seats and a stroller are in the left corner, with a changing table at the end of the crib. Little brown baby shoes wait on a shelf, waiting to be used.

Meg Hamilton, sr., stands in the nursery. She’s waiting and ready for her baby boy, just like the little brown shoes.

She is one of nearly 6,020 teenage girls who get pregnant each year in Iowa.

Hamilton, who is due on May 18, found out that she was pregnant in February. “My parents found out I had sex. They asked if I thought I was pregnant, and when I said I didn’t know, they said I had to take the test,” she said. “We went to do a blood test at Mercy Care North, but they sent us to take an ultrasound at St. Luke’s instead. My parents found out that I was pregnant at the same time that I did.”

Destynne Postel, fr., is another teen in the same situation. Postel, who is also expecting a little boy, is due on May 25.

Unlike Hamilton, though, Postel found out about her pregnancy on her own. “I took the test because my boyfriend said I was acting moodier than usual.” When Postel told her boyfriend, Derrick Meyer, fr., that the test came back positive, he wasn’t surprised. But for Hamilton it was a different story when she had to relay her news to the father, Randy Thompson, 21.

“He was scared at first when I told him, but him and his family have been pretty helpful about it. His parents bought the crib, the dresser, and changing table and he’s bought the mattress,” Hamilton said.

Even though Hamilton and the father are no longer together, Postel and Meyer’s relationship is still going strong. “I think [the pregnancy] has brought us closer,” Meyer said. “We’ve been together for almost two years. After she has the baby, we’re probably going to move in with each other during the summer and we’ve even been talking about marriage.”

Though their relationship is still strong, for most teens that get pregnant, it isn’t the case. “Teenage pregnancy causes a lot of problems in a ‘romantic’ relationship. Pregnancy often causes additional stress which causes the relationship to change or end, financial difficulties develop in the relationship and family issues relating to responsibilities between the couple arise,” Jenifer Vick, Director of Development and Communications of Planned Parenthood, said.

Postel, who didn’t have to tell her boyfriend about the pregnancy, did have to tell her parents. “When I told my mom, she said that I was going to have an abortion, and my dad really didn’t have a reaction to it.” She went her mom’s wishes, however, and decided to keep the baby. “It’s my first baby, so I really didn’t want to get rid of it. I also don’t believe in abortion. [My boyfriend and I] were going to give it up for adoption, but we’ve just decided to keep it instead.”

Taking care of the children after birth is going to be hard for the girls, but they have a solid group of people and plans behind them to help them out. Hamilton, who will be attending Kirkwood next year for the pharmacy tech. program, has a nursery set up at her parents’ house and will be living there, getting help from her parents raising the boy. She has also got help from the Young Parent’s Network, taking pregnancy classes in which she learns how to take care of the child, which she’s going to name Cedric Owen Hamilton, once it’s born.

Once Postel has the child, whose name is going to be Kyle, she will be done with school for the year, but will return next year to finish out high school. “I think I’ll do ok [coming back next year]. It’ll be a lot better because he’ll be sleeping at night more regularly when I come back at the start of next year, so I’ll be able to get my homework done.” She has also taken pregnancy classes and has learned what to expect in the future and also healthy things to eat for the baby.

As soon as Hamilton found out that she was pregnant, she went and filed for Title 19 and also went to St. Luke’s to get prenatal vitamins which would be the advice she gives to other girls who are also in this situation.

Vick’s also has advice for teens that are in this situation as well. “Apply for medical insurance if you don’t have any available, find a family doctor/OBGYN that takes the insurance you have, contact resources in the community that provide services for new parents, take care of you physical and mental health and communicate with trusted individuals in your life that are a support system for you and your child.”

As for the actual act of giving birth, Postel isn’t worried. “I’m nervous about the pain while giving birth, but other than that, I’m not scared.”

For another four weeks, the crib will remain empty, the car seats in the corner, the stroller unused. Ant those little brown shoes, they’ll remain on the shelf, waiting to be worn.

From Vol. 43, Issue 06 – Friday, Feb. 26, 2010

By Emma Lehmann

As Destynee Postel sat in her living room, reading to her son, it was the quintessential picture of motherhood…except one thing. Postel is 15.

The Torch first interviewed Postel, so., last year for the story Premature parents: teen pregnancy changes the lives of everyone involved – when she was 15 and pregnant. It has been ten months since that initial interview, and a lot has changed.

“When I told my mom, she said that I was going to have an abortion… [then] we [my boyfriend and I] were going to give it up for adoption… I didn’t know what to do,” Postel recalled in her last Torch interview. But Postel is almost 16 now, and no longer pregnant; she has a son, Kyle, who is almost nine months old.

“In the first few months I seriously considered [giving the baby up for adoption,” Postel confessed, “but then I got closer to him and I couldn’t do it.”

So life changed, drastically.

“Life’s different because I gotta think of someone else before me now,” Postel said. It’s a new concept, she admits, one that she still will have to continually work at.

But not everything is different. Postel is still with the baby’s father, Derrick Meyer, so. He takes care of Kyle every other day, with the help of his parents. “[Kyle] has kinda made us closer, but pushed us apart at the same time,” Postel said. “…It’s made us closer because we have to do something as a team now, but it’s pushed us apart because we fight a lot, because of our different living styles.”

And it’s been like this since Kyle was born last May. In fact, Postel and Meyer have been together for nearly three years.

When he was interviewed last April, Meyer’s outlook was good. “I think it [the pregnancy] has brought us closer,” Meyer said. “We’ve been together for almost two years. After she has the baby, we’re probably going to move in with each other during the summer and we’ve even talked about marriage.”

Things didn’t move that fast for the couple; they still live at their respective parents’ houses, and they are both still unmarried. But the couple is doing well, considering the circumstances.

Unlike the majority of teen couples – let alone those with infants – Postel and Meyer have been together through out the pregnancy and the birth of their son. By doing this, they have beaten the statistics showing that a majority of teenage fathers bolt from the relationship, soon after hearing the news of the baby’s appearance.

But this is not the only area in which the couple has challenged the odds.

Statistics show that one-third of all American girls will get pregnant in their teenage years  – that’s a sobering 750,000 annually. Of these, more than two-thirds of all teenagers who have a baby will not graduate from high school. However, Postel seems certain of her academic future.

“[Both my boyfriend and I] are still in school,” Postel said. “I don’t know what he [Meyer] wants to be, but I’m trying to become a doctor. I’m not letting my dream go down because I had a baby.”

Though her expected 2012 graduation date is still quite far away, Postel already has eventual plans of attending Kirkwood Community College, to become a doctor. This is how she hopes to one day care for her son.

But for now, she has to settle for a part-time job, to provide for Kyle. “This year I’m going to be 16, and so I’m gonna get a job at my mom’s work. And so, that’s how I’m gonna support him [Kyle],” Postel said.

Today, watching Postel help her son crawl, or cuddle Winnie the Pooh, it’s hard to tell what’s running through her mind. She could be contemplating her undoubtedly difficult future, thinking of times before his birth, or simply remembering his birth – a possible blessing in disguise.

“Maybe Kyle being born is kind of a blessing, you know?” she told the Torch. “I mean, you have to grow up and think about someone else before yourself when you have a baby, and not to be immature. And if I didn’t have a baby right now, I’d probably be failing school and doing other stuff, and by boyfriend, probably, would try drugs and all that. We could be normal teenagers, and we can’t do that now because we have a baby.”

There’s no doubting that Postel’s past, and future, have been, and will be, hard. But as she gazes into Kyle’s eyes – a motherly look towards her son – there is the faintest glimmer that, as she said, “Maybe, I don’t know – maybe it’ll be alright.”

From Vol. 45, Issue 04 – Friday, Feb. 17, 2012

By Tara Mittelberg

In April 2009, the Torch talked to Destynee Postel, then fr., as she was struggling with the emotional and physical challenges of teen pregnancy. Ten months later, we peered into her life as the new mother of a nine month old child, Kyle Meyer. Today, we examine how Postel, a senior with plans to graduate in May, is coping after 2 1/2 years of parenthood.

In September of her freshman year, Postel discovered she was pregnant. Despite the fact that her boyfriend Derrick Meyer, sr., claimed to have noticed the symptoms of pregnancy, Postel was in shock. “I took eight tests. I didn’t want to believe I was pregnant,” Postel said. “But I was.”

During the first months of pregnancy, Postel considered putting her child up for adoption; her mother wanted her to get an abortion. However, approximately six months into her pregnancy, after her second ultrasound, Postel began to reconsider. “By the time he started kicking and I saw the heartbeat, I was growing more attached to him,” Postel said. Despite criticism, Postel decided to keep the child.

Throughout her pregnancy, Postel received optimistic support from friends, family, and teachers. However, those closest to her and her and her boyfriend didn’t lose sight of reality. “Derrick’s dad said, ‘this isn’t house. You can’t take care of it one day and forget about it the next. This is a big responsibility,'” Postel said.

Although Postel’s experience has been far from house, she and her boyfriend Meyer have devised a system to work through a tough situation as smoothly as possible. While they are at school, their son Kyle stays with Meyer’s parents. The couple takes turns caring for Kyle in the evenings, each using their individual finances to pay for his expenses when he is in their hands; Postel works at McDonalds, Meyer at detailing shop.

For Postel, a typical evening with Kyle involves an intricate balance of work, homework, and playing with her son. After working for a few hours after school, Postel picks up Kyle from Meyer’s parents’ house, and they watch TV or read until 8:30. After putting Kyle to bed, Postel begins her homework. “When he was a year old he used to think that my homework was his chewing cloth, so I couldn’t do homework until he went to bed around 9 or 10 o’clock,” Postel said. Although Kyle goes to bed earlier now, Postel must wait until he is sleeping to complete her assignments. “He tries to color on my homework,” said Postel.

Although Postel only missed a few days of school during her pregnancy, for the first year after Kyle’s birth Postel’s academic performance began to decline. Kyle was frequently ill, often forcing Postel to choose between motherhood and school. “In my mind I was the mom,” Postel said. “I had to stay home and take care of him.”

Through these trials, Postel and Meyer have maintained a relatively steady relationship for nearly five years. “If you’re having a baby you can’t back out and leave the girl with the kid,” Meyer said. Although they sometimes argue about parenting styles, Postel is appreciative of Meyer’s commitment to fatherhood. “Derrick is the most amazing teenage dad I’ve ever met,” Postel said. “With me and him, our son comes first.”

After realizing how quickly Kyle catches on to their behaviors, the couple has learned to closely monitor their language and actions. “Kyle is a little Derrick and does everything his dad does,” Postel said. “Derrick smokes cigarettes and Kyle tried to smoke a french fry.” Meyer has noticed a change in his maturity. “I’ve grown up a lot,” Meyer said. “I’m more responsible. I don’t do teenager dumb things.”

Although Postel has had to give up typical teenage pastimes such as hanging out with friends and playing volleyball, she has not entirely regretted becoming a mother. She enjoys always having someone there to comfort her. “Even though Kyle doesn’t understand me, I can tell him anything,” Postel said. “He always brightens my day.”