Sarah Barnett is only 20 years old, but she has taken on the duties of parenting and adulthood with a quiet and determined resolve. A licensed cosmetologist, Sarah organizes her day-to-day life around her son Cameron, who has a compromised immune system and attends Friendship Community Care in Bryant. This is their love story.
By KD Reep, photography by Lily Darragh
SAVVY: WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
SARAH BARNETT: I am from Bryant, but I was born in Little Rock. The doctor who delivered me, Dr. Mike Cope, also delivered my son. My parents, Don and Jane Barnett, own Cantrell Animal Clinic where my dad is a veterinarian.
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION? I am a licensed cosmetologist; I graduated in June when I was about three or four months pregnant. Right now, I wait tables at U.S. Pizza in Bryant, and I have worked there three years.
WHAT IS YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIKE? Every morning at 7 a.m., I get up, and then wake up Cameron so he can be at school by 8 a.m. Then I will go home, brush my teeth, eat my breakfast and get ready for work. I pick him up at 3:30 p.m. then we go home and play until 5 p.m., and he will nap until 7 p.m. since he won’t sleep at daycare. After that is dinner, bath time and bed at 8 p.m. He still gets up three or four times during the night. Today, I had to take Cameron to the doctor because he has hand, foot and mouth disease, and can’t go back to school until next week so I’m missing work to watch him.
WHEN DID YOU GET CAMERON’S DIAGNOSIS? WHAT WAS THAT LIKE? Cameron was born two months early. My water broke at 30 weeks and four days due to stress. I went in on a Tuesday and had him on a Friday. He was born at 31 weeks on the dot. He was 4 pounds, 2.7 ounces, which is two pounds more than normal babies at that age. He stayed in the Baptist Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 33 days. He was sent home on a heart/apnea monitor and had to wear that 24/7 till he was 6 or 7 months old. He stayed on oxygen for a week and had a feeding tube for about 20 days. I couldn’t find a daycare that would take a child on a monitor, and I needed to find a job at a salon.
AS A SINGLE MOM RAISING A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS, WHAT OBSTACLES DO YOU FACE? HOW DO YOU OVERCOME AND DEAL WITH THOSE OBSTACLES? With me being his primary caregiver, I’ve had to sacrifice two salon jobs since I am the one taking him to and from school
as well as his multiple doctor appointments. The school nurse was constantly calling me to come get him because he was sick so I had to leave work, but I’m trying to find a salon that is flexible with my hours and his needs. Since he was premature, his immune system is not the best sometimes so we will be at the doctor’s office every week.
WHAT IS YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM LIKE? I live with my mom, dad and sister, and they help out a lot. I would not be able to parent without them. My mom will watch him when I work nights, and his dad will get him maybe once a week for a few hours.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A MOM? I know he will always need me and love me. I needed him in my life; I needed someone to love. Getting pregnant at 19 was the hardest thing I’ve gone through, and becoming a single mom at 20 was the scariest, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. I love my son.
WHAT DO YOU ALL LIKE TO DO AS A FAMILY? HOW DO YOU SPEND TIME TOGETHER? I’ve had a boyfriend for a little over a year now; we started dating when I was six months pregnant. He loves to take me and my son out to eat or to the park. He is absolutely amazing. Cameron’s favorite thing to do is swim, and lately I have been taking him out to the barn and letting him “ride” my horse, Princeton.
WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR STORY? Being a young, single mom is so hard but so rewarding. Enjoy every minute of your pregnancy and every moment with your child. They grow up in the blink of an eye.