Friday, May 25

Baby on board


Earning a degree is hard enough. Earning one while raising a
family in Westwood is even harder.

Fourth-year political science student Sean Davis lives in a one
bedroom apartment on Kelton Avenue with his wife, Katrina, and
6-month-old daughter, Emilie, while he balances the
responsibilities of earning a university degree and the pace of
life in a college town while being a father in a new family.

“It’s difficult being a parent and a student, but
it’s well worth it,” Sean said.

While many would wait until after college to start a family, the
couple had planned to have Emilie and figured out how they could
fit raising a child into an already busy schedule.

“People will look at me and think, “˜That poor girl
didn’t use birth control,’” Katrina laughed.
“They can’t understand when we say we planned
it.”

Even with all their planning, raising a baby is still a lot of
hard work.

“I wasn’t prepared for how much work it was going to
be,” Sean said.

Sean and Katrina have known each other since the seventh grade
and lived just houses apart in Culpeper, Va. The couple dated after
high school and decided to marry after Sean joined the Navy at 19.
He was on active duty for almost three years in Charleston, S.C.,
before he went to UCLA on an ROTC scholarship.

“I knew I wanted a family, which is one of the reasons I
joined the military,” Sean said.

The couple decided to have their baby girl in college because
they saw it as an opportunity to be able to start a family before
he would return to active duty after graduation and be assigned to
a ship as an ensign.

Emilie was born Sept. 19 of last year, near the start of finals
week for the last summer session, and Sean was taking classes and
had to postpone two of his finals to celebrate the birth of his
daughter.

He said he had hoped the birth would occur after finals, but
Katrina was anxious to have the baby and tried techniques like
walking around or eating spicy food to induce labor sooner.

“They say (spicy food) will trigger labor,” Katrina
said. “It’s an old wives tale, but every pregnant woman
tries it.”

In spite of high rent prices, the Davises chose to live within
blocks of UCLA for several reasons.

They wanted to be close to the UCLA Medical Center to have their
baby. Also, Sean felt more comfortable leaving Katrina and Emilie
alone during the day while he was at school.

The family is constantly readjusting because of Emilie. Last
January, the couple moved from one apartment complex on Roebling
Avenue to their current Kelton apartment because they needed more
room for her.

The couple constructed a crib on Sunday after Emilie had
outgrown the cradle she once used. For her part, Emilie has made
the apartment her home, with toys and playthings scattered
throughout the small living room.

“Babies grow so fast; you’re constantly having to
get new things,” Sean said.

The Davises have learned to get used to the noise of weekend
parties and midnight yells during finals week. The midnight yell is
a quarterly tradition that allows students to relieve stress
““ but it often wakes sleeping babies.

“I’ve had a lot of people come … with drinks in
their hands,” Davis said of people mistaking their apartment
for one in a neighboring building.

The family makes other accommodations to adapt to Sean’s
academic schedule.

Katrina leaves for her grandparents’ house in the Bay Area
during finals week to allow Sean to attend review sessions and
study groups and to avoid the noise.

“For finals week, Katrina goes up north,” he said.
“I’m just not home, so why put her through
that?”

Both space and money are tight for the couple who must get by
with only the bare essentials. They have to make do without things
like high chairs and other pieces of furniture to save space and
money.

In addition to the ROTC scholarship, which covers student fees,
Sean is also relying on aid from the GI Bill, which was enacted in
1944 and provides funds for veterans, and personal savings. They
also receive baby clothes and gift certificates from their families
who visit from the East Coast.

“They really help us out with the little one,” Sean
said.

In addition to maintaining a steady academic life and family
life, Sean and Katrina also try to maintain their husband-wife
relationship.

“I think our priorities have definitely changed,” he
said. “You go from being young and carefree, and then you
have a kid and make her your priority.”

The couple used to see movies in theaters but have cut down on
going out. They have also gotten a lot less sleep, but they have
agreed to set aside at least one “date night” a week
after they put Emilie to bed. Sean agrees not to study for the
night and instead watch a video or play cards with his wife.

While the college life may be hectic, it offers some stability
in comparison to the military life. After graduation, Sean and his
family plan to move to Texas and start the nomadic lifestyle of
military personnel who move every two or three years.

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