Breastfeeding is Empowering!

I breastfed my daughter for a year and six months (maybe a little more). I do not remember exactly when I stopped breastfeeding, even though it was a huge moment in both Lily’s life and mine. I tried to stop breastfeeding as soon as she became 11 months but breastfeeding was heaven for me. I gained an amazing connection with my daughter that I will forever be thankful for. I believe that our bond became stronger because my daughter felt safe, happy, and comfortable through this experience. After lily shots or when she was sick I would breastfeed her and that would calm her down in seconds. I never had to struggle to put my daughter to sleep as soon as she was on the breast she would drift away. My daughter and I were in our own bubble when I was breastfeeding her.

My daughter’s health is great and I believe breastfeeding was the cause of this. It is rare for my daughter to get sick; she does not get as sick as other children in the winter. So I am thrilled that she does not have health issues.

Breastfeeding was comforting to my daughter. I know that when I breastfeed lily she was more relaxed and happy. Everyone in my life supported my decision for breastfeeding. I would have my mother Spanish remedies to increasing my milk supply. I think that having this support made a difference in the connection that I had with my daughter. Having people cheer you on about breastfeeding is great and makes you want to continue and make the experience last a little bit longer.

I weighed 150 lbs. when I gave birth. After I stopped breastfeeding I weighed 98. Losing this weight was bittersweet. It was bad because I wanted to gain more weight after birth, but the good thing is that my body looked great afterwards. I could not believe that breastfeeding could cause such a weight change.

I stopped breastfeeding because I was becoming too skinny, my daughter used my boobs for comfort, and my schedule did not work with breastfeeding. My daughter would want to stay on the breast all day. She would pull my shirt and position herself for it, would play and watch TV while still being on the breast. It was weird to have her do this. But even with those negatives I wanted to continue breastfeeding.

It was empowering. I felt like any other mother out there. I did not feel just like a young mother, I felt like a powerful mom. Breastfeeding makes you feel powerful. That’s what I loved about it. I feel that my body was made to nurture a child. If I could go back in time, I would do it all over again to gain those emotions and awesome breastfeeding moments.

Tips on breastfeeding:

  • Always have that medical soothing for sore breast. It helps to apply it when the breast hurts. Helping to prevent sore breast.
  • Drink lots of fluid throughout the day. The more you drink the more your breast supply.
  • Remember what you eat and drink will influence what your child eats and drinks
  • Wear clothing that is easy to pull your breast out easily.
  • Turtle necks are a hassle when trying to breast feed
  • Breastfeeding bra are great but not necessarily needed.
  • Do not through away all your old bras, you may actually go back to the same cup.

Leave a comment below with your questions and tips!

And Then I Remember…

There are days when hiding in my closet is an option

There are days when pulling out my hair is an option

There are days when I can scream ’til my voice is no more

And then I remember I have the strength of two lions

That I’m not the same person I used to be

That bald may not be the look for me

That my closet doesn’t have a light and I really don’t like the dark

That I like talking

There are days when running is an option

There are days when crying is an option

And then I remember I have enough babies for that so turning into one may not be the best idea

That I’ll get one hell of a work out running and I’m sure I’ll get chased

Point is when the negative comes creeping just remember I do. :)

Breastfeeding Helped Me Too

IMG_9850 (1)Since the moment I decided to continue with my pregnancy with my son, Christian I knew that I wanted to breast feed. I liked the idea of being able to transfer my immunity to my small baby who would otherwise be exposed to so many illnesses. I also was very worried that if I didn’t breastfeed, I would have to spend a lot of money on formula and I just didn’t want to deal with the extra  headache of struggling to buy formula.

Around my third trimester I was 100% sure that I wanted to breastfeed until my son was 6 months even though I heard that breastfeeding would make my “boobs sag.” To me that wasn’t an issue. After I gave birth I told my nurse that I wanted to breastfeed and if she could teach me. The first time was really painful because my nipples hurt a lot  all while my uterus was contracting. I had a really hard time getting my son to latch on but every time it was feeding time I would attempt to latch him on first and if I couldn’t I would call the nurse and tell her to help me out. Thanks to her I learned a lot tricks that helped me out when I was struggling to get him to latch on.

Because I had some complications after giving birth I stayed in the hospital for 4 days and by the third day I was breastfeeding without any help! When I went home I rented a pump for $75 per month and it came in handy every time my breasts were full. It took about 2 weeks for my nipples to get use to breastfeeding and eventually the pain went away. After those 2 weeks I found breastfeeding to be a breeze. It felt really natural and it was an awesome way for me to bound with my son. I also didn’t have to get up at 4 am and make bottles which I loved!!

I was able to get a pump from the WIC office and I ended up returning  the other pump that I was renting. All though it was a  cheaper version and made a lot of noise when I used it, it got the job done. I breastfed exactly until my son was one year old and I saved so much money because I didn’t have to buy formula.

My son only got sick once during his first year and I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with ear infections or colds when he was very little. Breastfeeding  also helped me shed all the extra baby weight I gained and I was a lot lighter then before I was pregnant.

I enjoyed eating everything and I was still able to loose weight .  It was also a really great way for my son and I to bound and I honestly wish I was still breastfeeding my almost 2 year old! Now that my son has been of the breast for 7 months my breasts still are in good shape! I think a lot of people think their boobs  will change dramatically if they breastfeed but mine didn’t change too much. They are a little different but the benefits outweigh  the small change my breast went through. I’m glad I was able to protect my son for a lot of illnesses his first year and that I was able to benefit from it and loose so much weight!

Getting Started on Your Anthology Submission

Our current culture is often having discussions about young parenthood without including the voices of young parents. We’re often told what should motivate us, why we should be happy, and our dreams are defined for us – without our input. As we advocate for respect, autonomy, support, and recognition, our viewpoints have often been considered unconventional.

I know how frustrating this can be.

The idea that all young parents need the same things is inaccurate and unjust. We all live different lives with different stories, backgrounds, and histories. The one thing we do experience is feeling like way too many people are trying to narrate our lives from their perspectives.

The annual young parent anthology is an opportunity for young parents to share stories, views, opinions, art, and creativity through their lens. This anthology is a collection of honest and genuine pieces created by young parents for young parents. Our mission is to publish and distribute these anthologies to other young parents and continue spreading positivity and empowerment throughout our communities.

If you are interested in submitting a piece, the submission guidelines are simple. There are 3 themes (motivation, happiness, and making your dreams a reality) and all submissions can be in writing or art form and in any language!

If you need help getting started, here are 10 prompts to think about:

1. Share a story about a time when you felt the happiest.

2. How would you define success as a young parent? Does it differ from others’ definitions?

3. What are some of your dreams and how are you achieving them?

4. How do you find and maintain your happiness?

5. If you could create an ideal environment for young parents, what would it look like?

6. What are some of the amazing things you have learned about yourself through struggles, obstacles, and hardship?

7. What motivates you? Write about the good, the bad, or the weird things that have motivated you to keep going.

8. Tell a story about a time when you challenged someone else’s definition of happiness or success.

9. Describe your epic journey. If your child wrote you a letter to you in 20 years, what would you hope he/she would say about your journey?

10. Write a letter to a younger you. What motivating and inspiring things would you tell yourself?

Comments? Ideas? Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! More details about the anthology can be found here: BeProudToParent.org/Anthology.

A Mother’s Fight

I realize that you feed off my energy, my fight, my love and for that… I fight.

I realize that feeding you, bathing you, dressing you is only half the battle.

I will fight because better me = better you.

I was told never to use the saying “Do as I say not as I do,” because when you see me do or say something, you are bound to do the sooner or later. I can’t fight you for what I have taught you and since I know you’re watching, watch mommy put up a fight for you, watch how mommy loves you, teaches you, supports you, always forgives you, and never let you go.

As you watch, pay close attention to the words I use to help you to help us to fight and make sure you choose those fighting words wisely. Know that along with a fight comes sacrifice and for you I will always do that, no matter what. So as I pave the way, you may see mommy cry but just know they are tears of joy and when I look at you, know that it’s because you make me so happy.

This fight ain’t easy sweetie and boy did mommy have to start young, but guess what… we got through it.

One Toddler, Two Languages?

I grew up in the Dominican Republic and was taught to speak, read and write in Spanish. During the years that I lived there, Spanish was my only language spoken. When I was 8, I came to America and all of a sudden, my primary language was being changed. I had no option but to learn English, learn the way people live in this country, and adapt to how we are supposed to interact with one another. If I wanted to succeed, I needed to know English, there was no way that just speaking Spanish was going to get me by in school and out in the world.

LilyNow that I’m a mother and I’m raising a child in America, I have a hard time choosing which language to teach my daughter. I have had so many pleasant and unpleasant conversations about the language that my daughter should speak. The issue is that people feel like my daughter should maintain her “Latina culture” but what they don’t seem to understand is that I am her mother, not them. I will teach and show my daughter the Dominican the culture. I will do this not because I have to, but because it is good for my daughter to know where her mother was born, where her family is from. I want my daughter to be educated on her family history. I know that by exposing her to as much Dominican culture and language as I can, I will give her a form of clarity of who she is as a person. Overall, it will be my daughter’s choice on how she takes in all this information and what she will do with it. Regardless of what my daughter learns, I do not have the last say of who she becomes or what language she will speak. My daughter will interpret all the information I hand her, in her own way.

My daughter is two years old and for her to learn two languages and two different cultures at this age is a lot. I know that explaining and teaching her two languages now means that she may not know how to explain herself to certain people. I believe that there is no rush for a two year old to learn her “Latina culture” right now, she has a lifetime to do so.  As a young parent, I’m constantly questioned the decisions I make because people assume I put no thought into them. In reality, I spend a lot of time thinking deeply about them. I use my own experiences and what I have learned to make these decisions. So it’s unfair to question my parenting just because my daughter isn’t speaking Spanish.

The Support I Needed to Help My Son

My son was born 9.14 oz when he was born! He was a giant baby and because of his weight I believe it made it so much easier for him to sit up and crawl and stand up at an earlier age. He was a really strong baby and because of that he even took his first steps at 9 months!

He was also was very good at exploring the world around him. He never really found interest in his toys but rather in simple things like a shoe box or a remote control. I loved watching him be so curious because I knew that in that little head there were many many new connections being made in that tiny little brain. But around the time he was 15 months I really began to worry about him.

My son was at the age where he should have had at least 4 words in his vocabulary and he didn’t . He didn’t say mama or papa. He would also still cry like a 9 month old baby who couldn’t express his wants. When I mentioned this to his doctor she recommended that he get tested to see if he would qualify for early intervention and it turned out that he actually did need early intervention for his speech delay.

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Although it’s normal for kids to have a delay in speech it made me a little sad. Would my son not speak until he was 3? Would he have the same learning disabilities as I did when I was a child? These were all questions that I had. After finding out that my son had a delay I worked a lot harder to make sure he was getting the stimulation he needed to speak. I would repeat words to him over and over making sure I said it slow enough for him to hear the pronunciation.

He started getting speech therapy and even then he said nothing. I became frustrated because after weeks of trying to get to speak he still didn’t say anything. But one day, I went to pick him up  day care and his teacher said that he had been calling me all day, “mommy” . I felt my heart warm up a little bit and I thought it was the cutest thing and he has not stopped repeating ” mommy” over 30 times.

Today at 18 months he knows how to say mas (more), car, chu chu (train), leche (milk), and of course mommy. Even though I’m still waiting in him to say more words I’m glad he has progressed. I believe that reading books to him and having conversations with him has really helped him to start speaking. I also turned everything into a pointing game where I point to something and then name it with a high pitch voice. I have no doubt in my mind that he will one day be able to speak just fine. Until then I will continue to work with his speech therapist to make sure I am doing all the right things.

Being an Activist!

Being an activist for young parents is not something you can do from a text book. You have to be able to connect or relate to other young parents. Also to understand the foot steps we take on a daily basis and the obstacles we endure. It’s hard for young parents to take advice and encouragement from someone who cannot connect or understand. Criticism or judgement does nothing but push us away.

I found that sharing my own story can motivate other young parents, who may be going through the same or similar struggles that I am. I still endure the daily trials but I am also progressing in my parenting journey to provide a stable life for my son. My story is not one of success. This means that I can be an inspiration and give advice as to what I am CURRENTLY doing to make better choices to achieve my personal goals.

When I hear stories from others who have been through or are going through the same tribulations I’m currently facing, it makes me feel as if I’m not alone in my battle. This pushes me to continue making positive and beneficial moves for my family.

My last blog

To My Dear Ambassadors and Three Great Supervisors,

I am so grateful to have met you all. Even though I am leaving or gone by now just know that I already miss you all. Its weird how we all got so close this past couple of months I feel like I know each one of you so personally. We are like a family we have the crazy one you know who you are the mom the funny one the shy one and so on and that’s what makes us so fun and unique.

More than anything we are all young mothers and we understand each other’s struggles and achievements we pick each other up when we fall . We laugh and cry together. I just want to let you all know that I’m so proud of all of you and I hope I will make you proud if me. You are all wonderful moms and great friends. I will be thinking of you guys when I’m scared or when I feel like given up because you all strengthen me. I love you all and God bless you and your families.

Sincerely,

Wonder Woman

Mommies Night Out!

photoAs we all know by now having a kid can get quite stressful, and that’s why we mothers have a stress getaway called “mommies night out”! As I have always said since the beginning of my journey being a mom, wanting a break and time away from reality is always okay and no mother should feel as if they were a bad mom if they wanted it.

Some of the YPA’s and I recently had a mommies’ night out. It was so much fun. Not because we were out and relaxing, but because we all had in common the fact of going back home to our babies. It’s great to go out and spend time with other mothers. We can talk about common stresses and find out new things about each other.

After a night of excitement and joy going back to your child is such a wonderful feeling and that is key. Having a night out doesn’t only give you a break from reality but also a chance to miss your child and gives a special excitement to seeing them again.

We all came to an agreement that we will definitely be doing these outings at least once a month. I am more and more grateful everyday to be able to share experiences like these with whom I consider my sisters.

I also think personally these outings are important because it’s one of the few ways that a young parent can balance being young and a mom, in my case having time to be a teenager because at the end of the day I am a teenager and having a kid doesn’t change that fact.

Having Young Mom Support

About a couple of months ago I met young mothers from the YPA program who were my age and who loved and cared for their children but who  also struggled just like me. I never thought I would get to know and love them as much as I do now. We have all seen each other at  our highs and at our lows. Being able to share with them the good and the bad has allowed me to be more comfortable with them. At the beginning of the program I had just broken up with my sons father and I was feeling  crappy. I was  known to go back to him many times but these ladies indirectly made me feel worthy and they taught me to  have self respect and to walk away from the very man who was still upset at the fact I had his child. Being part of this group helped me to love my decision of becoming a mother even if that meant no one else did. It took a couple of months for me to stand up to everyone and let them know that i loved my child regardless of our  situation. I no longer felt bad for having a child or being a single mother.I learned to embrace and love the life i am living.

I have a group of powerful strong minded women who encourage me to stand up for my son and I. These women have also made me realize the meaning of true friends.  Most of my friends dumped me after having a child but these ladies have shown so much love that I stopped caring for my old friends.  I have enjoyed laughing with them and  I’m glad i have people I can talk to all day about baby poop and little baby attitudes. I especially love when our kids get together because it reminds me that our kids are what brought us together in the first place. I will admit that I push all of them away at times but deep down I care so much for these women who have given me so much hope that I never got from everyone. They are my support system and I honestly don’t know where I would be mentally and emotionally if it wasn’t for them.

I Joined the Military

 

women-in-the-military_editThis past summer I made a big decision that would impact my son’s life and my life. It was very important to me and it was also tough. I decided to join the military with the support of my sons father.

This decision was hard because it meant that I would be apart from my son a little while. At the same time being a young mother didn’t mean my life stopped it just meant that I had one more person to live for. I am very proud to be part of something so much bigger than me. I pray and hope that in time my son will be proud of me.

I am nervous about leaving in January but I feel ready. My point with this is to let every young mom like me know that everything you want is still possible. Remember that you are still someone you’re not just a mom a wife a worker or a student you are you, and you need goals and dreams like anyone else. I feel like as long as you are there for your child love your baby care for him/her and make sure to make decisions according to what’s best for the both of you that you’ll be happy and at peace with your decisions.

First of all, plan ahead and think about what you want and take it one step at a time don’t rush or make decisions without considering your child. Make a reachable goal and follow through before you know it you’ll be we’re you dream of being. One thing that i learned is that when you have a child your dreams and aspirations change. Don’t get stuck to one dream explore your options and just be happy where you are for the moment.