Most days, 24-year-old Raven Down is up at 5:30 am so she can catch the bus to her Fanshawe College work placement. After a full shift there, she heads to Tim Horton's where she works part time.
"Life is pretty stressful," she said.
Down, who is single and lives alone, is 32 weeks pregnant.
"It's starting to get very difficult because my shifts are eight hours long and I keep having to go home early because it's getting harder to stand on my feet and then I find my paycheques at the end of two weeks are a little bit lower than I should be making."
These days, Down makes about $300 every two weeks. Her rent is $780 a month.
"I'm trying to save my OSAP. I'm pretty much living off my OSAP."
Down is wrapping up her final semester in the developmental service worker program at Fanshawe College. "I've always wanted to be a developmental service worker. It's going out in the community and supporting people with disabilities, that could be day programs or in home supports and it's always what I wanted to do."
"It is a lot of me pushing myself to do this because mostly I want to for my baby. But ever since before my baby, I was doing this as well, so it's nothing new to me but it is very sad to be alone."
Baby on the way
Down said she decided to have her baby even though it wasn't an easy decision. "It was not one that was a group decision. It was kind of like a splitting-ways kind of decision. I don't regret it, and I love this baby even now before it's here."
Down is having a baby girl and is worried about how she'll cover the bills once her daughter arrives. She intends to apply for employment insurance, but is unsure she'll qualify.
"I think with how little I'm working right now, and I was also at Fanshawe last semester, so the only real time I've worked fully was in the summer, so I am not sure," she said.
Down is attending prenatal classes offered by the Middlesex-London Health Unit. The Smart Start for Babies program hands out $20 grocery store gift cards each week, which Down said she is using to buy her food right now.
But Down said if she doesn't qualify for EI, she'll have to come up with another solution.
"I will have to resort to Ontario Works which is not a bad thing, but it will be the first time I've ever tried to access it, but with OSAP it's just making it very difficult right now."
Down decided to share her story to help other women.
"I hope it allows other women to see that they aren't alone. I find that when I do talk about it, I find that I'm not alone so it's nice to know that other women have experience being in school and pregnant and having to work."