From parties to pacifiers: Life as a college-aged mom

Brooke Martorano at home.

By Sarah Smith |

There is just one difference between Brooke Martorano and the average college student—she’s a mom.

Martorano, 20, attends Flagler College for Deaf Education and Elementary Education with endorsements in reading and ESAU, a government education organization. She hopes to one day work at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind or in an elementary school.

“College has always been very important to me,” Martorano said. “Being an education major, I see the crucial importance of education and higher education I wanted to show my son that no matter what the situation was, I was going to finish what I started and complete my college education.”

Martorano’s kitchen counter was lined with bottles, diapers, blankets and pacifiers for the new baby.

While 39 weeks pregnant, she was still working on projects and less than a week after having her son John, she was back in the classroom.

Prior to his birth, she said that she came into school before the semester even started to talk to school administrators and her professors.

“I felt like the higher up I went in the Flagler College area, they were less understanding and less sympathetic,”  she said. “But as I went down and actually met with my professors that I was having this semester, they were willing to work with me through everything and [were] very understanding.”

She said that her professors this semester have been understanding, allowing her to complete alternative assignments and turn in assignments early so she wouldn’t be stressed out about school as much when the baby was born.

“I do plan on completely finishing this semester and so far it looks like I’ll get all As and Bs, which is nice.”

She said that she plans to come back next semester, barring any medical complications with her or the baby.

“I’ve talked to professors and I am going to have next semester that I planned on and kind of explain the situation that I will have an infant at home and I’m trying to make sure that I am still set up and they understand and they can work with me to if anything does arise.”

She said that although she is still planning on finishing her degree at Flagler College, the experience has changed since she found out she was pregnant.

“My first year living here it was basically my second home,” she said. “I had my friends here, I was doing most activities here, and being off-campus and now being pregnant and expecting a little one it kind of shifted that role to more of a just an educational facility.”

Coming back in the spring, Martorano said that she is expecting it to be a challenge as Johnny will only be about six weeks old.

Martorano working on a paper in between taking care of her newborn. She said that right now schoolwork hasn’t been too bad with him because he sleeps in bursts that allow her to get work done.

“Day to day, my mind’s going to be on him and I’m going to have to switch my focus to my class.”

She said that now that he is here, she is adjusting to all of the curveballs that the process has brought, especially the curveball of having a c-section.

“It’s been hard because I can’t just get up and say ‘I want to go get McDonald’s,'” she said. “You always have something that you have to think about before and when you’re sleeping, I’m always thinking, you know, do I hear him?”

Martorano has had a harder time than she anticipated because she has to wait two weeks to drive after having surgery and a full recovery can take up to six weeks.

John, or “Johnny” as the family calls him, looking up. At less than a week old, Martorano said she is already figuring out how to balance him and going to school full time.

“Physically it’s been hard,” she said. “I was bedridden for a day after he was born, and the second day I did very little walking just around the delivery room.”

She said that the people around her have been the most important part.

“I know that between my husband and both of our families I can ask, ‘hey can you hold him while I stand up because I just can’t’ which has happened a few times.”

She said that especially when she goes back to school she will rely on her parents, in-laws and husband to care for him.

A photo of Martorano and her husband in high school hanging in the kitchen at his parents home where the two currently live with Johnny.

She also currently resides at her in-laws’ house where her husband lives so that he can help out more and share in the experience as much as possible.

Going back to school for finals just under two weeks after Johnny was born, Martorano said that she feels prepared for finish this semester and then enjoy a winter break with her son before spring semester starts.

Johnny Martorano in the living room. He was born via emergency c-section which made it even more difficult for Ms. Martorano to drive and do other things necessary to complete the school year.

“All I have left is finals now so I do just have to go and take them and hopefully do well,” she said. “I set myself up my grades are high enough where I know that as long as I perform about on average of what I do regularly then I should be fine for grades.”

Since he has been born, Martorano said that she has learned to fall into a new routine, not just trying to get school work done anymore but also learning how to care best for her son.

“He hates being cold but he hates clothes too because he wants to eat his hands,” she said laughing and fixing the pacifier falling out of his mouth. “He, at first, would scratch his face and he had little marks on his face. So we try to keep his fingers covered.”

In the future, Martorano hopes that her career choice as a teacher will allow her quality time with her son, even after graduation.

“I’ll have summers off with him,” she said. “Hopefully he can go to school, if not at my school where I teach at, in the county.”

She said that she also felt it would push him academically when he was older as well.

“I feel like it’s going to positively impact his academics knowing ‘my mom’s a teacher she knows this stuff, [and] she has high expectations for me.’”

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