Two FGCU students reflect on their lives as young mothers

We were sitting on the couch cooing at the baby, smiles spread over both of our faces, when, all of a sudden, she felt something warm on her leg.
Bryson had pooped. And, it came right out of his diaper and onto her pants.
“Babe,” Kiera Mariconda said, “can you please take him?”
Logan Harper, Bryson’s father, came over from where he was sitting and doing his homework to change the baby’s diaper.
I jumped over the stuffed elephant on the floor and ran to get a paper towel from the kitchen for her.
“This is what it’s like to be a mom,” Mariconda said as she stood up, laughing and wiping the baby poop off her pants.
Mariconda showed me that a mother’s love for her child tends to trump her own personal needs.
“I don’t even get the chance to shower or brush my teeth until he takes his first nap,” Ashley Simmons said.
Simmons, who is a friend of Mariconda’s, is also a young mother. Cameron Matthew Heiston was born on Jan. 3, 2016, and he has changed Simmon’s life in many ways.
Simmons was a student at FGCU when she found out she would be having a baby with her boyfriend Dominic Heiston. She plans to return to school next semester.
“I hope to God that Cameron doesn’t have to grow up as fast as me and his dad,” Ashley said.
I asked her what her plans with school are, and how Cameron may have affected those plans.
“Ever since I’ve had Cam, I want to be a teacher,” Simmons said. “I hated kids and babies until I had my own, and now, I love them.”
Simmons said although she’s now a mother, she doesn’t feel old.
“I just feel like I took on an old person responsibility,” Simmons said, using her free hand to put air quotes around “old person.”
Mariconda and Harper met like most young couples do — out with friends at a bar. It was practically love at first sight for Harper, though Mariconda said she didn’t believe in such a thing until she looked at Bryson for the first time.
Bryson James Harper was born on Feb. 26, 2016. He was very close to being born on leap day — something Mariconda was very concerned about.
Mariconda is 21 years old.She was attending Florida Southwestern College when she got pregnant and is planning to start school again this summer.
Harper, 27, is a student at Hodges University and works as a server. The two are both working on undergraduate degrees.
Mariconda plans to take online courses, so she can be at home with Bryson.
“At least for his first year, I don’t want to miss anything,” Mariconda said.