Saturday, March 31, 2012

A home for unwed teenage mothers

When DeAna was six weeks old we moved from my mother, step-father and younger brother Cody's home in Torrington, Ct. We moved to St. Agnes, a home for teenage mothers as agreed to with my juvenile probation officer and the Department of Children and Families who were over seeing my case.
DCF was not involved because of any incident. They were involved because of age and my previous juvenile record put me as a high risk mother according to their system.

My mother drove me and my daughter to the big brick building called St. Agnes, located in West Hartford, CT. The building was once a home for nuns and was tucked into an upper-middle class neighborhood within walking distance to a strip mall.

This was not my first time living in an institution. From the beginning of 1990 to mid 1991 I will at Klingberg Family Center in New Britain Connecticut. From 1903-1970, it'd been an orphanage for children. When I lived there it was a residential therapeutic treatment center in what is commonly referred to as a group home, for children with behavioral needs.

I some what knew what to expect from St. Agnes as I'd left Klingberg only four years before arriving to St. Agnes. The building was stone and brick and surrounded by a shade of trees. A small fenced in play ground was to one side. We climbed a few stairs and rang the front door bell. We were greeted by a young mom caring a baby, and a woman with keys dangling from her neck stood behind her. I recognized her instantly as being "staff".
"Staff" were those who over saw the children living in the home, the pseudo parents of the place.

After introductions we were given a tour. On either side of the entry were offices. ( Shortly after my leaving I understand most of the home was remodeled) To our right was a hall that led to a two room day care center on site. Going straight from the front door and down, their was the "staff office to left and just past that a large living room with many couches and a television. To the right of the room was a large dining room and a kitchen, off of that a large play room, and a closed of sitting room.
Taking the door from the living room, you entered a hall with a payphone. If you went down stairs there numerous door, mostly opening to in house classrooms and offices, there was also a laundry room where we did our own wash.

If you took the stair case upstairs, it led to an L-shaped hall way. There were between fourteen and seventeen ( cant recall exactly) bedrooms. All box shaped, with their own door not much larger then a jail cell. Each room issued a single twin bed with sheets and hospital style bed spread, a crib, a built in closet, a single wire shelf above the bed, a small desk, a dresser a sink and a mirror. It seems like a lot of furniture but it was very very tiny in there. Especially for a mother of a baby and all the things a baby needs.

There was a very large bathroom with three or four school style toilet stalls, a changing table and a few shower stalls. A row of sinks of bathing babies in. Everything was very institutional.

After a bit of explaining from the staff to my mother, my mother and I said our good-byes. I was left to unpack and settle DeAna in. Then I would have to meet the other girls and begin our new life.

Colic survival list, mommy's little helpers

Here is a brief survival list of products that helped with the newborn colic stage.

I highly recommend that all moms have these on hand because they come in handy with teething babies too.

I am a huge fan of the vibrating bouncy seat. This was the product that finally gave my daughter a level of comfort that freed me up long enough to take a shower.

These seat vary by maker, mine adjusted to 3 different levels of vibration. These seat are dangerous once your child can really move themselves around because they tip over easy. Until then, they are incredibly soothing for little ones, especially those who need the extra physical stimulation to stay calm.

Another must have item..I used this with all three of my little ones and a number of children I cared for is a sound machine. I liked the stuffed animal variety because it looked cute but really any soothing sound machine will do. Most have a heart beat or womb sound option, mimics the sounds babies knew so well for their 9 months inside mommy. This also work extremely well with puppies newly separated from mom. Although the stuffed Animal varieties come with a Velcro strap,  I strongly advise not hanging these inside a crib from the rails. There is a link between items such a stuffed animals, pillows, crib bumpers, blankets being in the crib and SIDS. This is because of the possibility of suffocation.

Infant massage is a great strategy for helping with colic. I spent many nights learning about infant massage from videos and books. After baby's bath, a rub down with a baby safe lavender lotion is very calming. Lavender is used in aromatherapy for its calming effects. Just make sure you are using a product that is safe for baby's skin.

And the last item that did NOT work with my daughter but worked well with my sons, was a swaddle blanket. A swaddle blanket gives your baby that warm hugged around feeling they experienced in the womb. Its also helps with flailing and keeps them from accidentally scratching their little faces when their nervous system is adjusting and their arms fly everywhere. This also helps baby sleep better and may lesson the risk of suffocation that placing a blanket on top of baby may pose.  Love this product!

Did your baby have colic? Was you baby overly fussy? What methods worked best for you and your little one? What product could you just not live without?

Someone broke my baby!

Someone broke my baby!

When I was pregnant my alternative school sent me to the big high school one period a day for Early Childhood education class. It was a big privilege to me because I also got to see my friends. The class itself was great, I loved it. We also had the opportunity to work in the on-site day care which made me fall in love with the idea of having my own day care center someday.

The teacher in the class passed out the robotic baby think it over dolls two weeks before my due date. She said I didn't have to bring one home if I chose not to. I wanted to. I wanted to be ready. We were to keep the dolls for a minimum of two days at a maximum of two weeks. I'd kept mine two weeks, with the doll waking me up all hours of the night. I patiently got up with her and went back to sleep. The baby doll was set to colic, I didn't know, either did the teacher. Once my actual real life baby was here, someone must have set her to colic as well. The baby never seemed to sleep, and if she did, she was on my breast or tucked close to where she could hear my heartbeat.

 I was almost certain of it. For one thing, she ate all the time, like she had a huge hole in her tiny belly that was leaking out every drop of milk that ever went in. She was never satisfied. She detested the Binky. Every pacifier in the world must have tasted bad because wouldn't use it. What she wanted was to be constantly attached to me and she cried.

She cried constantly. She hated to be swaddled, which most colicky babies need. She wouldn't let anyone hold her but me. We couldn't sit still. If she wasn't asleep, we had to be walking. If we were sitting me had to be moving, and rocking in the rocking chair just wasn't enough. We had to bounce in my arms AND rock. I got so used to standing up bouncing, the few times I wasn't holding, I'd still be standing there bouncing. It was awful.

I was worried I was eating too much spice in my food and my milk was upsetting her stomach but even that didn't help. She cried if she was in the car seat until the windows were down and she could feel the wind against her face. If the car stopped for a read light, she screamed. This was colic in its worst form.

I had no choice but to share sleep with her. The bassinet and crib were nothing more then expensive decorations. She would not be put down. Now I know what your going to say, "Let her cry it out" ..there was no letting her cry it out. She just didn't stop, it just went on and on and on. My heart couldn't take letting her cry.

The dangers of sleep sharing were still not widely known. i knew to place her on her back to sleep. THAT was brand new information that I received and followed.

She went from a sleepy little newborn and to a high needs baby. I couldn't get a break because she went to no one, at least without screaming in their arms. I had to shower with her, because we were alone in the house most of the day. I had to eat with her in one arm and my food in the other. Sometimes I could put her in the stroller to take a walk and other times her screaming became so great that I had to take her out and hold her with one arm and push the stroller with the other.

I eventually bought a vibrating bouncy seat that she would tolerate for short periods of time, at least long enough for a shower or if she had worn herself out, she might even fall asleep with it. Between that and a teddy bear that played a recording of a heart beat, I got occasional breaks. Rare, but they happened. She couldn't be left to sleep in the bouncer because it kept her mostly upright and she had yet to gain neck control.

Everything happens for a reason. If she hadn't been so high needs, maybe I would have eventually gone back to my teenage ways. Maybe if I wasn't her only source of comfort in life, the temptation to leave her with a sitter and do my own thing would have gotten to me. I had no choice but to be with her every waking second. The colic would eventually wear off, but the high needs would warp and take shape into other aspects of parenting her. The large demand load would always remain.

Let me interrupt my chronicles a moment here..

Let me interrupt my chronicles a moment here..
I want to take a minute to get political without going  much into depth and throwing myself off my own path. Or boring and offending people BUT
I'd like to wrap my head around the Republicans, the tea-party, and certain GOP ideas but I just can't understand.

Because this is a blog about teenagers and teen parents, I am going to base my rant as best I can in the way in effects and pertains to people in this populace.

First of all, based on what I suppose is religious motivations.. birth-control has become a public enemy with the above mentioned parties. Birth control? (why not child hunger? domestic violence? child molesters?) and Planned Parenthood has become a major target of their political agenda.

In Wisconsin, the GOP is trying to pass into law that single parenthood is a form of child abuse!!!

I am alone in my out-rage??
Am I wrong that none of these politicians belong on the show 18 or (is it 19 now..) kids and counting? Are they saying that they don't have sex? Or that they don't use birth control and are immune to pregnancy? I am guess I am greatly confused here, which is why I am asking.

Do some and did some of them not have teenagers? Do they believe their teenagers were not sexually active? Because we all saw how well that worked out for Sarah Palin's family. The average teenager is not going to turn to his or her parent when they are in need of birth control. They aren't going to go to their family doctor who they know has a relationship with their parents. They are going to go to Planned Parenthood. If they don't have these places to turn to, they are going to get pregnant at a minimum, they might also get bigger things than a baby like herpes or HIV with out easy access to free condoms. If you've never been to Planned Parenthood, most offices keep a basket of condoms in the waiting room or at the counter that you can take for free without being asked any questions. This is a blessing for those who other wise might be too shy.

The average teenager is not going to feel comfortable going to a sales counter and asking for condoms. Its like pulling teeth to get them to buy their own tampons. The embarrassment factor is still to great. There is a lack of immaturity because they are still developing in both mind and body. Which is why a pregnancy is not always the best thing.  We rank number one in the world in the number of teen pregnancies as it is. That's a fact. Its also a fact that many teenagers who become parents fail to meet the needs of that child through little fault of their own but because services that once safety netted them have already been taken off the table by those lovely budget cuts we all faced during the Bush administration.

I cannot think of a single sexually active teen or a teen contemplating becoming sexually active that is going to stop having or decide not to have sex because they shut down Planned Parenthood or stop making condoms available in schools. What we are going to end up with is a major health crisis in our future generations.

They are doing this to females with the thinking that what?? They are going to charge unwed mother's with child abuse and put their children into an already failing foster care system? I can only imagine the pending mental health crisis that would arise from both parent and child as a result.

I can understand the thought process that people who are mature enough for sexual relationships should be able to afford their own birth control, and why force the state or country to pay. Planned parenthood is currently federally funded and I for one, don't mind a single dollar of my tax money playing for the services they provide. I also think that people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year shouldn't fly first class on the tax payer's dollar. We all don't get what we want. If you don't fly first class their are no ramifications, if you pull birth control out of reach from us, this will not only impact our population, but our economy and our physical and mental health as a nation.

What are your views on birth control being easily accessible to teenagers? or to people as a whole? Are your views personal or religious? What/ if any impact do you think not having birth control easily available to the poorest classes of people would have on our nation?

Friday, March 30, 2012

The name game

Still in the hospital before discharge, she didn't have a name.
Brooklyn, Brittany ( spelt Brittnee), Mariah or Taylor...a combination of them..
Those were the names tossed around during my pregnancy. I wasn't even sure what her last name would be. Mine or her father's. When I saw her, I couldn't possibly name her any of those. They weren't her.

Emily.. Emily Ann.. I thought. Now that's a pretty name. My hand hovered over the birth certificate. The ball of the pen almost skimming the paper. I drew back, too common..every one's middle name is Ann..or Marie..

I just didn't know. Her dad hadn't been to see her yet, or any of his family. I wanted him on the birth certificate but when he did come he refused to sign. He'd held her but refused to show his face in photos. He insisted her dad was African-american. A few people did actually, I can assume this idea comes from the basis of other boys I was dating during that time. I wanted to give her his last name but my family said that wasn't a good idea. Were they questioning if I knew the paternity? I didn't know. A nurse came in and wrongly informed me that she could not have his last name without his consent. If she chose to tell me that without influence I don't know. There was numerous rumors of his family having kin or friends at least on the maternity floor or in the hospital.

I was crying. I had this perfect little girl and I couldn't find her name. My mother suggested I name her after my best friend Mwikali. I knew the troubles Mwikali had herself with her name. No one could ever say it right and people were scared to say it period! BUT Mwikali was Mwikali's middle name. Her first name Deanna ..not pronounced Dee-Anna,  but Dee-Ana. I'd always thought it was pretty and so I had her name DeAna.  Mariah which was my favorite from my picks became her middle name and she took my last name. I quickly wrote it down, I didn't hesitate because she needed a name. It would take me a few years not to second guess if I chose right. She grew into her name in time and I love it now.
I spelt it wrong at first, her original birth certificate says DeOna. Not a very attractive name or spelling. After I took a look at it, I had it fixed. Again, another impulsive teenager mistake.

Did you have trouble naming your baby? What names did you like? What names did you pick and why?

Fifteen and breast feeding

The decision to breastfeed wasn't easy. The social pressures were certainly to formula feed. My mail box was stuffed silly with coupons and formula samples from a variety of companies. The other teenage mothers I knew were all bottle feeding. They couldn't imagine I would do anything else. Breastfeeding was considered disgusting and vulgar to many of my peers.

I'd signed up for the Women, Infants and Children program during my pregnancy and they promoted breast feeding. My mother also encouraged it. My parents aids were half and half. Some had bottle fed and some had breast fed their own children. All the literature I read was mixed at that point. The days of the " Breast milk is best" campaign hadn't begun yet.

I think the final factor in deciding to breast feed came from a very simple fact. I could not stomach the smell of formula. I'd wake up some nights during my pregnancy swearing I still smelt the stink of formula on me from babies I cared for. I'd make a desperate run to the bathroom and vomit. I couldn't possibly feed something to my precious newborn that made me so violently ill just by the smell of it.

I knew this would make returning to school hard, but I had a great breast pump and that was my initial plan, pump and let her bottle feed during the day and let her nurse while I studied at night.

She took to nursing with a vengeance. It just came naturally to both of us. I understand why so many mothers stop early on, its draining, its limiting..but the rewards were great in the end.
Mothers and babies decide between each other whats best for them. I was healthy, I didn't smoke or drink, I ate healthy and took vitamins. I didn't have to go to work. My baby nursed easily, my body produced an abundance of miracle milk.  It worked for us, maybe too well, because she wouldn't stop nursing even when I tried to wean her. She'd still be nursing when she learned to walk, she stopped at 14 months of age.

I laugh when I hear people's out rage at mother's breast feeding in public. I breast fed on public transportation in Hartford, CT without thinking twice. I breast fed in the middle of the mall when out with friends. I couldn't stand to hear her cry out from hunger and not feed her. Not that I never attempted bottle feeding.

Bottle feeding was misery. She wouldn't take it. A few days after being discharged from the hospital, I was readmitted for massive pain in my stomach, I'd spend another four days in the hospital with my daughter at home with my mother. She'd been discharged so she couldn't stay. I was dehydrated and sick. A kind nurse collected my breast milk for me and drove it to my mother's home each night. DeAna being a few days old, took the bottle without question.

When I came home, she went back to strictly nursing. She wouldn't even take a pacifier. She refused to take a bottle. I tried every bottle nipple possible but she just wouldn't. God and my baby were going to make me stick to the nursing by giving me no other option.

Did you nurse, bottle feed or both? What influenced your decision? Did you pick one and regret your decision later?

Everyone has a birth story

They held my tiny baby up for one quick second. She looked perfect, far from the crinkled, discolored, mess covered little ones I'd prepared myself for. Her eyes were big, huge even and looked so wise. She looked like she was ready to say something important. A tiny angel ready with a big message. I reached out for her, anxious to follow my birth plan of instant bonding, but they whooshed her away. "You can have her soon.", they reassured.

After being stapled back together, I was wheeled away to yet another room. This room was dank, empty, depressing. It walls reminded me of watered down pea soup. I didn't have physical pain, but I had worry. Where was my baby? "You''ll have her soon.", they said again. I was crying, it'd been over an hour. I watched the hands of the clock turn round and round. The nurse came in and out taking my vitals. What was going on? Why wouldn't anyone tell me anything? My family and friends saw her in the nursery, why wasn't I seeing my baby?

Crying and confused, with no one telling me anything, they finally brought my baby to me. She was in an incubator. I could only watch her behind the shield of plastic from my bed. She was sleeping and moving her lips open and closed as if she were blowing kisses from behind the glass.

Her umbilical cord has been wrapped around her neck three times and tightly which was why she wasn't given to me right away, small panic had broken out amongst the doctors. They'd kept it so quiet I hardly knew until the danger had pass. This was why she struggled making it down the birth canal. When I realized what might how happened if I stubbornly refused the c-section...there were no words.

Shortly after we we both back in our hospital suite with family and friends surrounding us. She weighed 7 lbs, 6oz. and was 20 inches long. But had no set name as of then. Within time they put her in the normal open plastic baby bed and took the ugly enclosed one away. I touched my baby girl's soft fragile skin and held her. Counted her fingers and toes like every mom. Took guesses with my visitors about whose facial features she was blessed or cursed with. She took to nursing right away. I didn't. I just about screamed, the initial pain was so bad. Yet soon we both had it down and things were moving right along.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A day of birth... party

Walking while in labor is supposed to speed the process. I read that somewhere. I'd also read using a breast pump will stimulate contractions naturally. I did a lot of both but my labor just didn't want to start. I was blessed to have my high school friends more then willing to come over and entertain me while we waited. We walked up and down the street, pausing now and then while I waited for a slightly more then a menstrual cramp type pain to pass and then start walking again. Wondering if people were looking concerned or thinking I was just crazy.

At some point the hospital called and said I should probably go back. They were right, had I'd known the risk of infection, I never would have left to begin with. Hindsight is 20/20.

Anyway, my labor was awful. I had both sets of parents and a multitude of  friends in and out to keep me occupied. Which was good because hard labor wouldn't come for a very long, long, time.

From the time my water broke to the time I actually gave birth, was almost 3 days. I was pumped full of I.V. fluids, the nurse had missed my vein and my entire arm puffed up to double its size, it would later turn to a mass of bruises.

I was beat up and worn out. I finally took the Pitocin. We waited and waited, my contractions peaked and my pain was a sudden a red hot rush of suffering I'd never known. Still refusing the pain medication I trudged on. I don't know what I was trying to prove, if anything at all. My concern for my babies health was misguided. I refused the medication for her safety but stressed her by stressing myself. Again, an innocent mistake made by someone too young and uneducated to know better.

The doctor was exhausted, my mother was exhausted, my best friend was too.I was weak and worn out. My body was fighting a losing battle, when i finally reach 9 centimeters..I began to close up again. The doctor looked at me and my mother and said "Enough, is enough..can we do the C-section?".

Hesitant, but too weary to protest, I gave in.

They stuck a needle in my back and the sweet relief came. I could smile even. The pain stopped. I was wheeled to the operating room, only two people could come in and they had to be older than 18. So my best friend could not. My mom was coming and I asked my dad but he thought of his wife, who'd never given birth herself. So my mother and my step mother were the first to see my baby enter the world.

It was shockingly bright in there. I wanted to watch but they wouldn't let me, afraid I might pass out from shock. I was drowsy but excited. It felt like they were crunching potato chips on my stomach. Everything smelt like disinfectant. I heard my mother "ooh" and the doctor say " It's a .." which I finished with boy because I was so certain, I'd bought all boy clothes.. "girl!"..


Curious things start happening

I was in my night gown. The sun was just beginning to peak through my curtains. I opened my eyes feeling relaxed and light. I put my bare feet on the hardwood floor. As always my mop headed dog, my loyal companion, Cinnamon hopped off the bed with me and wagged. That's when I felt it, the balmy wetness begin to trickle down my leg. Was I peeing? No, I knew better. I'd lost my plug a few days before. I felt like a small dam had burst open from inside me and a small puddle was forming around my naked feet. I grabbed a blanket between my legs and tried to walk with my full term..(two weeks over due) self up the stairs wake my mom and step dad and little brother Cody to let them know " it was time".

I called the doctor's office and was pleased to find out my favorite Ob/GYN in the group was on call. Shortly after, my mom and I left for the hospital where I was hooked up and monitored for contractions, they were so mild I hardly felt them. I was uncomfortable but not much. I was still losing massive amount of water, I wouldn't have water gush in such an amount in my future pregnancies. I was hardly dilated either. They offered to give me pitocin, I refused. They sent me home, yes, with my water broken. I would spend a good amount of time there before returning.

Parent aids or Guiding lights

Be an angel to someone else whenever you can, as a way of thanking God for the help your angel has given you. ~Quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

God blessed has me with incredible strong women throughout my life to mentor and guide me. The parents aids I was assigned were no exception. These women didn't judge me, they didn't pressure me but guided me. Like many pieces to a puzzle that build a good parent, these women filled in places in my journey that had yet to be filled and they would stay a  consistent part of my life for many years. First as teachers but later as co-workers and friends.

These were persons assigned me, my "case". I was apprehensive about what that meant. Meeting them, I did my best to prove who I was and who I intended to be regardless of what might be written in my file.The idea of  more adult professionals sent to monitor the developments of myself and the baby who would arrive shortly, was disquieting.

Yet, they embraced me. They embraced me so tightly I had a confidence in myself I hadn't found before. They believe in me, and made me feel that I was special, right from the start. Made me feel a stand out from the many mothers they encountered day after day, mothers of all ages. Their unquestioning faith in me, gave me a boost to persevere over my first mommyhood fears and do what needed to be done in the best ways I could.
These women may not ever realize that they do the work of angels, but they do. They set a standard for me then and led me toward a path I will continue to walk throughout my life time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A fifteen year old with a birth plan?

I'd written my birth plan over and over. I'd spent the entire pregnancy not taking a single Tylenol, forcing my prenatal down no matter how often it made me vomit. Never allowing anyone to smoke near me, and doing everything I thought was healthiest for the little one inside of me.

Having this little baby was my homework, my project and her birth would be my final exam. I took it as serious as any other student would their S.A.Ts. I'd only had the one ultra sound in the beginning of my pregnancy because I worried about the effects of the sonogram and didn't want anything unneeded.

In my last month I began Lamaze at the hospital. Once a week I'd ride the elevator to the maternity ward and sit one on one with my instructor. She explained to me the birth process. Most of which I'd learned from books and talking to other moms. Then we'd practice breathing. They didn't put me in a class with the other moms. Maybe they thought I would be uncomfortable or maybe they thought the other moms would be unkind to me. I don't know the reasons. I just knew I was there in the room formulating a plan.

I decided to write the birth plan on my own. It wasn't the instructors idea, in fact she looked at me like I'd lost my marbles when I proposed it. I'd read about the idea and liked it.

I brought it to my doctor. She scanned it and nodded. I don't think I was taken any too serious, but maybe I should have been. Maybe if she explained to me more about what I was headed for, we could have tweaked it a bit. All I knew for certain was that I wanted no drugs, I wanted matter what. No drugs for me or my baby, no c-section and I wanted to breast feed.

Reality strikes.

In the final weeks before my due date, I was made to stay home with a tutor. She's been a substitute teacher at my school. She was encouraging. I worked hard. I was determined to do my best. I was bored and lonely though. I was beginning to feel the rift my pregnancy was spreading between myself and other kids my age. Not that my true friends weren't there for me because they were, but I was beginning to feel the slightest twinges of being left out.

Not because anyone wanted me to be, or because they didn't find ways to spend time with me but because physically I had to be. I certainly couldn't have endured going to an amusement park or a concert even. No ones world stopped because I couldn't go and I wouldn't have wanted it to but those were the first indications that I was going to miss out on somethings I otherwise would have enjoyed. I would be making memories of another kind than my friends would be.

It was hot...I was due in June. I was huge. I'd gained a ton, at least forty pounds and constantly craved water. I need water all the time. I remember the last few weeks as just being hugely uncomfortable and hot. My baby was an overly active baby. I wouldn't realize that until later pregnancies because I assumed it was normal. She moved all the time. If I dropped silverware into the sink, she would startle and kick around.

One night I just couldn't sleep. Maybe because I was constantly sweaty, or because she'd been moving non-stop, or that I felt like an alien in my own body. My body was this lumpy mass that didn't feel like mine anymore. My milk started leaking in my fifth month. Everything about my body was alien to me. I got up. I didn't want to read. My mind was just going, thinking. My legs ached, were swollen. I rocked in the rocking chair, it was the middle a sticky, muggy night. Normally I listened to music. I listened to a lot of music. I played music into my stomach whenever I thought to. I was too dreary but my head was racing.

I realized how terrified I was. In a matter of weeks, days even..I would be a mother. It hit me that I had no idea what I was going to do, or how I could handle it. I was fifteen, still a kid myself. I did what kids do. I woke up my mom. She wasn't mad, she reassured me this was normal. It would be okay. We would make it work. Reality had hit and when I woke up in the morning I knew I needed a plan.

My body is a science lesson for the class?

Maternity clothes are not cute. There came a time when I gave up trying to fit in with my classmates. It was depressing. I was huge and nothing fit. I had a huge belly button that poked out through any shirt I put on.

My classmates were pretty good to me. No one made fun of my waddle. Most days whoever sat next to me in my class kept their hand on my belly while my baby kicked like she was in a crazy kick boxing match.

They had a lot of questions, I know most conversations were about the baby coming. I didn't talk much about teenage things anymore. The boys were always nice, I had a few ask if they could pretend to be the baby's dad. Most people made me feel good about being pregnant.

The birth of a worker bee

I was fortunate enough to have a multitude of baby sitting jobs, good pay ones. Everyone who knows me, knows and knew then, that children and babies are my favorite part of life. I went to school and held a few babysitting jobs.

When I was half way done with my pregnancy I was lucky enough to be sent into a work program through my school. A few days a week I worked at the Board of Education in Torrington, CT. Doing what I do best, (other than caring for little people)..typing.

I earned a decent amount for a teenager between the two and quickly learned how to put things on layaway. My stroller and car seat were the first big items I bought for my baby all on my own. Of course I had a baby shower and my family and friends were very generous in spoiling my baby and myself. Still its the remembrance of the things I worked so hard to buy on my own I was most proud of.

I looked for lists in parenting magazines and books of items expecting moms should have ready. I made a list and one by one checked them off.  Because of work programs and parents willing to trust me and give me a hand up, when my due date came, my baby would lack for nothing.

I gained job skills early in life and for that I will always be grateful. I know because of the programs open to me, I was able to get my life on track quickly and had a better chance than most to beat the odds handed to young parents across America.

This is why it also saddens me that so many programs have been cut.

Craving pickles

The mind of a teenager is a funny place to be. With the same oppositional attitude I'd previously used to rebel about everything around me..I turned around and used as a positive. I used that same stubborn streak to prove everyone that not only could I raise my baby but do it right.

My first steps were the obvious, sleep and food. I did a ton of sleeping. Which was why my mother wasn't surprised when i told her I was pregnant, she'd guessed. I'd never been a sleeper. Suddenly i couldn't get enough.

I ate and ate, determined not to have an underweight baby like the doctor predicted. I was about 90 lbs when I conceived. The doctor was so certain at my one and only ultra sound that i wouldn't be keeping the baby, he never printed a picture out. When I ask him for one, he more or less told me that he didn't think I would want one. I never had another ultrasound.

I am grateful I lived at home with my mom, who is a fabulously healthy vegetarian cook. Looking back on my first grocery trip, I remember buying everything diet. What does a fifteen year old truly know about nutrition? I thought diet equaled healthy. A fact I am embarrassed of now, but I was too young to know any better.

My friends were great and kept me stocked in snacks from what I call a gas station diet. I also had a major pickle craving. Which I now cant recall if it started because I thought pregnant woman should eat pickles or not?? But I know it turned into a major craving. My daughter is now a total pickle addict herself and I always wonder if there is a link there? Somewhere toward the end of my pregnancy I ate a jar of pickles that just didn't taste right, that was enough to kick the habit.

I had morning sickness that was more throughout every minute of the day sickness. I'd so to school, eat an egg sandwich and orange juice and run to the bathroom. There is nothing attractive about morning sickness, especially when your a teenage girl still hoping to be attractive to teenage boys.

Needless to say I still gained a healthy forty pounds. What did you crave during your pregnancies? Did your children have a liking for those foods later in life?

Alcohol and pregnancy..not for me

It would be months before I entered the home for teenagers mothers located in West Hartford, CT. I spent that time working on myself.

 I turned fifteen within weeks of finding out I was pregnant. I wasn't only facing motherhood, I was also facing the common dilemmas of being a teenager. I had to make good choices on a consistent basis. Temptations were everywhere along with the usual high school peer pressure. I continued to date. I went to dances, I spent nights at my friends' houses. I was there, I was in it all and yet somehow I wasn't. My heart and mind were always with the baby growing inside me.

Like all teenagers I was offered cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs..but unlike most teens, I had a "valid" reason to say no.. I was pregnant, at least valid in eyes of my peers. Of course, I could have made a decision to say yes like so many others.

 I remember sitting on the floor at a house party. I was fairly big in my pregnancy. The couple who provided the alcohol had to be in their thirties. The woman was insistent it was perfectly safe to drink just wine coolers! "For goodness sakes she drank with all her pregnancies and all her child were fine!" ( mind you she didn't have custody of any of them)..and I remember having to stop, decide if I should listen to this adult almost giving me an order to drink or step back and stick to what I felt in my heart was right for my baby. I knew better. I'd read enough, plus I'd become somewhat religious at that point. Deciding my baby was most certainly going to be a little boy, I'd name him something biblical, Gabriel Jacob. I knew God would frown on drinking. I went home.

That was a cross road. It was a test, and looking back I passed.
What are your views on drinking while pregnant?

Being a good mom at any age is a concious choice.

Being a good mom at any age is a conscious choice. Don't let anyone fool you into believing that it comes natural at any age. I had the world against me and had major choices to make, choices that would last a life time, maybe two.

As I mentioned in my earlier blog, I was 14, pregnant, going to an alternative middle school (because I'd been thrown out of the main stream school system), I was a chronic runaway, and I was on probation, minutes away from being sent to jail for fighting. I was always fighting with other girls, other people, and running away for no reason other then I wanted to do what I wanted to do. At the time my biggest goals were getting pregnant and running with a gang. Yes I was an aspiring gang member. A fourteen year old white girl from small town U.S.A, as I made mention I was the frame work of which talk shows would one day be made of.

When the talk my baby being taken from me turned serious, so did I. I knew a few teen moms raising their children, I also knew a few teen moms whose children had been removed. My step sister at the time, had been in jail, and had a baby at 16. She also lost custody of my "nephew" during the time I was pregnant. She went to jail again, this time adult jail. That was tragic enough for me to start to make changes.

I bought every parenting book from every second hand shop I could get my hands on. I read and I read. I wanted everyone to see I was taking this baby business seriously. I ditched the wild crowd I'd been running with for the normal teenage future success story crowd I'd been on the outskirts of for sometime. I brought my grades up and then I made my proposition.

Sitting facing my mother and my probation officer, listening to more ideas of adoption and Department of Children and Families involvement, I said it.. I said what I'd been keeping in for months into my pregnancy. What if I moved into a home for unwed mothers. Even then it seemed like dinosaur of an idea. Some throw back from the 1950's but I was shocked when my p.o. stopped what she was saying..looked me in the eye with surprise and told me that was a good idea, she would look into it. That became the plan.

What I expected while I was expecting..meant nothing compared to what people expected from me

I remember the long walk me and my high school girlfriend took to Parenthood the day I found out I was pregnant. It wasn't my first trip there, when I was 12, my best friend and I went in to find out information on birth control. She was 11 and sexually active. I was thirteen before I made that leap. Losing my virginity was again a conscious choice for me. I wasn't in a "relationship"..(I throw up a little at calling anything between two tweens a relationship) but hooked up with a boy from school who was both popular and cute, all the requirements a 13 year old girl might consider, were met. He called me and offered. I simply said yes and we met a while later. Like I said, I was the original teen girl gone wild and that was just another milestone I hoped to reach.

Anyway, back to Planned Parenthood. Although I intentionally got pregnant, I was stunned when it actually happened. Again, the father of my baby wasn't someone I was in a relationship with although I believed at the time I was madly and helplessly in love with him. He wasn't my boyfriend.

I don't think the nurse at Planned Parenthood was ready for my uproar of hysterics. I probably scared every woman in the place with my wailing. I cried until there wasn't a tear in me. Then I called my mother. As you can imagine she was not please. I don't remember exactly what was said. I remember the walk back to town with my girlfriend. Within that half hour I went from hysterical to excited. We proudly told everyone we bumped into, which was a number of other kids from school.

As typical with many of today's teen dads, the father of my baby instantly denied paternity. He also managed to call me every not nice word I'd ever heard and some I hadn't. He wouldn't tell his family. I later would, in my fifth month when he started seeing my step sister. There would also be a paternity test. Yet another trend that was just in its begining stages.

People's reactions were mixed. A lot of people didn't believe me until it became undeniable. Nothing changed much within my circle of friends just then, that would come later.

I was shocked when I told my favorite teacher at school and she weld up with tears. I couldn't imagine why her reaction would be tearful. This was a baby! I was thrilled! Fourteen years old and ecstatic!

The first confessions of a former teen mom

 I was fourteen year old when I decided to get pregnant and yes I did it on purpose. I was the original Maury "teen gone wild" poster child, before his show ever covered a single mouthy pre-teen girl. Watching the media explode with stories about teen motherhood in the 2012 has been more than amusing.

 For one thing, I gave birth at fifteen to my daughter in 1995. This was long before reality TV, and talk shows were still a fairly new trend.  Had a camera followed me around in those early days of motherhood, viewers may have been bored.

Watching the current shows circulating MTV regarding teen motherhood are much more entertaining then the realities. Although I could be wrong, maybe my life would have made the tabloids at one point but if anything, I seemed to have taken the road least traveled because I had no one on screen setting a standard of how a young mother should act.

As I made mention early on, I was more then wild in my preteen years but the sudden on-set of motherhood mellowed me rapidly. I was in the juvenile justice system at the time I conceived. On probation for a girl-on-girl fight at the railroad tracks behind my middle school. The cold harsh reality set in when talk instantly started between my parents and my probation officer of my unborn child being taken from me when she made entrance into the world. A possible reality I couldn't handle. A terrible threat that rocked my world.

This began the change in me. This is when true mommy mode stepped up and it took its first fragile steps.