The Breast and The Bottle

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I knew as soon as I found out that I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed my son. I went and did as much research as I could. WIC provided some great resources and my midwife gave me a lot of suport. Some of my family was very supportive and some just told me not to get my hopes up- that it’s very difficult. For me I paid them no mind honestly, I knew what I wanted to do.

However, skipping ahead to my labor and birth; nothing went as planned. I ended up having a c-section. My son was born with low blood sugar so had to be taken to the NICU. I gave birth to my son at 6:55am and did not hold him till 3:30 that afternoon. He was given a bottle and a pacifier, and no one told me that I should have pumped. I was nervous and very upset that I would not be able to breastfeed my son. In the hospital I would breastfeed him then give him a bottle then I would go and pump. The process took awhile, it was a lot of work; I honestly didn’t know how long I could keep up with it.

I did this continuously for about two weeks before my milk supply was enough for him. I was so excited to be able to just feed him off of my breasts. I experienced my first cluster feed with only feeding him off of my breast. It was pretty scary at first I felt like I didn’t have enough milk, and it felt like all I was doing was feeding him. I mean sleep? I barley experienced that in my first two months with my son. But cluster feeding is a topic for another day.

I ended up getting mastitis, an infection of the breast, when my son was almost two months old. This infection was horrible; flu like symptoms, 104 fever, and having to take care of my son on top of that. I remember there was a point at where I made a bed on the floor and put the heater on my back, because I had the chills that bad and breastfed him like that. As a result of this infection I lost my milk supply. I was back to square one. I was so discouraged. I was so upset. Apart of me felt like I was failing my son. I did everything to get my milk supply back up, but I am still only making 3-4oz for him when he needs 5-6oz per feeding. So as of now I am breastfeeding and bottle feeding my son. At first I was self-conscious to feed my son a bottle after I breastfed him. Other times I was self-conscious to breastfeed him. I was worried about what people thought, was worried that they would judge me for the way I choose to feed my son. It’s something…getting nervous about what other people think about how I feed my son.

My son has always gotten excited when it is time to breastfeed, but now I see him get excited when I make a bottle. So what is my son truly excited about? That he is being fed, that I am taking care of him and nourishing him. I think as women there is so much judgment about breast or bottle, bottle or breast. Whatever choice you make; breast or bottle (or both) your baby will be thankful.   However, I feel as women, we need to encourage and support each other no matter how we feed our baby. We do not know everyone’s story of why they choose to feed their baby the way they do. So as women lets empower each other.

 

Don’t Forget About You!

CalvinHobbesParenting

The number one thing people tell you about parenting?

Kids come first.

End of story.  No discussion, no questions.

Now, I don’t disagree with this advice, but there’s a fine distinction between the “kids come first”, and the “I have to do what’s best for my kids” approach.  The moment you do something for yourself, there are plenty of people ready to write you off as a selfish parent.  Don’t listen to them.  Listen to you kids.  Ask your kiddo, “Do you like it better when mom and dad are stressed out, or when we’re happy.”  Gee, I wonder what they’ll say.

Thankfully, people are starting to realize that if you want to raise happy, healthy kids, you have to be healthy and happy too!  This is important to remember, and I noticed it the most in this Proud to Parent program.  Every meeting, we go through a few questions at the beginning.  Guess which question is the hardest to answer….

“What have you done for yourself this week?”

This might seem like a strange question to ask, especially coming from the “drop everything for the kids” approach to parenting.  But it makes a lot of sense, and I think people need to remember that.  Any parent, no matter what age, will tell you that parenting is exhausting at times.  Parenting is a tough job, no doubt about it.  But it’s also so incredibly rewarding, and in order to get the most out of parenting, you have to be able to take a step back and reflect on it.

If you’re like me, it’s always hard to take time for yourself.  Between work, school, kids, and every other obligation I’m signed up for, “me-time” isn’t exactly a top priority.  You feel guilty, you can’t stop thinking about work tomorrow, or that exam coming up, you miss your kids.  But I’ve also started to see how important it is.  Trust me, if I’ve had time to hang out with a friend or relax and read a book, I have way more fun with my son.  Sleeping too; man does getting enough sleep help…

So don’t be afraid to help yourself help your kids.  If you need a break, that’s ok.  If you need a night out or time to yourself, don’t let anyone tell you you’re not entitled to that.  Parenting is a full time job, and full time jobs have vacation time for a reason.  Everybody needs a vacation, even if it’s just one night.  Trust me, taking a day to recharge, catch up with an old friend, do some yoga, take a nap, whatever, will pay back tenfold.  If taking a night to yourself lets you be able to relax and have fun with the kids all weekend, it’s totally worth it!

So let me ask, what have you done for yourself this week?

Balancing Life and Parenting

lifeI feel that due to all of the expenses and obligations in daily life a
lot of parents are not able to spend all of the time they would like
with their children. Having a child is a life-changing experience, and
supporting them is too. I have struggled daily with thoughts that I do
not spend enough time with my girls. Many times I feel ashamed of the
little time I spend with my daughters. Juggling work, school,
financial obligations, and just life in general has made it hard for
me to be with them at all times. Sometimes I feel like I am a bad
parent and I get emotional because I feel like I am missing so much
while at work. One of my fears was that they would forget about me, or
get closer to someone else and not want me. The most emotional thing
for me was that I did not get to see Genesis take her first steps when
she began walking. I wanted so bad to be there for that moment but it
wasn’t possible. I was very hard on myself about missing her “firsts”
but from that I have learned to better appreciate the time I can spend
with my girls.
I want Genesis and Samyrah to know that everything I do in my life is
for them and that I really do want to be a great mother to them. After
work I fly home and hug them tight. I miss them every day. I keep
pictures at my desk and it helps miss them a little less on some days.
Thinking negatively about me as a mother was not going to change the
time I spent with them, what I missed, or how they felt about me .I
may not be the perfect mother, but I strive to be the best mother I
can. Working and getting my college education is something I am hoping
they appreciate when they are old enough to understand. It is my way
of building a foundation for our future life.

Headless Chicken

218px-headlesschickenI have been sitting here staring at this screen on and off for the past hour trying to figure what I have to say about being a young parent. Clearly I have decided to start typing, but I still have no idea where to start. I know what I want to say. The problem is how do I tell my story without sounding like a crazy woman.

Here is my attempt…

Since becoming a young parent, I do not remember the last time I was not tired. Between work, school, and caring for my son, I feel like a chicken with its head cut off running around aimlessly. With that being said, I have never been happier in my life. I smile so hard that my face hurts more than my exhausted brain. The best part of my day used to be falling asleep to Netflix. Now, the best part of my day is when Caleb is asleep and his diaper is full. I pray that he doesn’t wake up while I am changing him because I have so much work to do, but by the time I’m done and I look up at him and he’s awake. My first thought is, “Just great!” Then he looks into my eyes and he smiles at me and I can’t help but smile back. I feel like giving up EVERY SINGLE DAY, but his smiles gives me the push that I need to keep going. I laugh when I should cry, I watch him sleep when I have a million other thing I should be doing, and while people thought becoming a young parent meant my life was over, but I have never felt more alive.

To all the other chickens with your heads cut off, I can’t tell you how things will work out for you because I am still trying to figure that out for myself. What I can say is that you are not alone. Stay strong and be #proudtoparent !

Louisha

Hard working single mom’s

denise imageBeing a single mom is very hard, stressful, and depressing. Being a single mom and working is even more stressful and depressing. Work causes stress, and being a mom also causes stress so you feel so stressed out and don’t know what to do or where to go. You get so desperate that you feel like you are all alone and don’t have anyone to help you or cheer you up. You feel like your not a good parent because you have to work enough hours to get enough money to pay bills and take care of your child. I am here to tell you that you’re doing a GREAT job and keep up the good work!!

I know exactly how you feel because I am going through it myself. I am a young single hard working mom. I am my daughters mother and father. Alot of times I get out of work so tired that I just want to lay down and sleep my life away, but then reality hits me that I am not able to do that because I have to take care of my daughter first and put her to sleep before I can get some rest. Most of the times I feel like I’m stuck in between these four walls and can’t get out. But then I think of all the help I get from my family and how lucky I am to have that help.

Never feel alone. There’s always someone out there willing to hear you and give you advice. Never feel like you are not good enough, because you are. Keep working hard even if you feel like giving up because “Hard work pays off”. Give all the love you can to your child because they need to feel it. Never give up, strive to do better in life for you and your child because in the future that child will thank you for never giving up on 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.

A Different Teenage Life

Six months ago, it was April. So much has happened that it becomes overwhelming to write about. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot to change in my life but it is definitely full of surprises and that’s why now I know to take day by day as it comes and not plan ahead too much. These changes that happened were good for the most part. Some weren’t good but we never know why things happen.

On a personal note I have been through several obstacles that have emotionally wrecked me but made me stronger. I realize that what I am living now, parent-wise and all, life will be hard and it is up to you to make it the best you can. As a young parent ambassador, I have grown in the last six months as a friend and as a parent. That is because I have grown close relationships with the people I work with and we help each other with the resources we can and support each other as we all go through similar things. Being around other young parents I have concluded that we go through relationship problems, co-parenting situation that end up not as easy as we think, housing, childcare, trying to balance school or work with parenting, it’s a wide variety of things. We can all get through these situations with the help of those whom believe in us.

As I have changed a lot in six months, there will always be space for growing up, maturing and learning new things. I personally know that I have a lot if growing up to do but I do not feel the rush to do so because I have a kid. It is important to stat youthful because you do not want to get to your 30’s and say “I didn’t have a normal teenage life because of my kid.” I would rather say, “I experienced a different teenage life but it was never ruined and I never felt the need to grow out of it quickly.”

As young parents we will grow with our children. At points, I feel like my son and I bond like brother and sister, and that’s absolutely fine with me. Couldn’t have asked for it differently because we share a bond no one else does.

Parenting does make you change a lot, at the end of the day I am a teen, and step by step I will continue to grow as I have these past six months.

I Am More Than a Statistic

I am only 20 years old with only a high school diploma, I have nothing else special and no one will take me serious. 6 months ago that is really all I thought about myself. I felt like I was just another teen parent statistic. But over the course of 6 months I began to realize that I am something bigger, I have a purpose, and I am someone. I am and my story is a lot bigger than just and education and some fancy title, and that makes me the person and mother I am today!

I felt like because I was young, only had a high school education, received government assistance, and because I had my son at a young age that no one would ever take me serious, just as other statistic. Because in most of society’s  eyes being a teen parent is probably the worse imaginable thing they would think of. In their eyes I ruined my life, will be a welfare queen, and will forever be a statistic. A picture that society has painted, not teen parents. Growing up I was always told how having a kid young would ruin your life, you wont be able to finish school, go to college, find a good man, get a good job, and will forever live off the government. I was told this so much that I truly believed it, especially when I found out I was pregnant and had my son, I really thought my life was over. It began to take the motivation that I have always had, that I would do anything that I set my mind too. I slowly began falling behind in school and not going. I was depressed and felt domed

It took me a awhile to see my purpose, and to find my own way to help other young parents.  And working with the Young Parent Ambassador Program really help me find that out. I realized my story and my struggles are going to help others in my position,  or for others to understand some of our positions. I found this out all through blogging, public speaking, networking, interviews, group meetings, etc.

As a young parent ambassador, I feel like I was given the tools to tell my story in a way to help others.  And now I never want to stop telling my story. It might not be the best story legislators, providers, youth, peers, etc., but it’s my story! And it’s who I am!

All Hail Youth

The young carries the future. I believe that we as young people should have leaders, that share the same age bracket, to stand up for our human rights. As young people we are not always taken seriously. I find it to be a responsibility to support other young people like myself. Giving them a sense of pride and empowerment. It is important to me that the youth in my community have a voice when it comes to parenting, politics, healthcare, etc.

As a young parent who juggles work, household , and child things get tough and when you feel like there are no stipulations for your demographic, it’s even harder. I feel as if I make the same, if not more, decisions than the average thirty year old. It should be a responsibility to the world to encourage the young people around you to make positive choices. Whether they are socially , educationally, or financially. These things are significant in life on this big earth and so many people fall in between the cracks.

I am proud to be an example and leader for other young women. I’m not perfect, but I am real. I will forever be an advocate for the young people around me.

Influencing young people positively is not always the easiest thing to accomplish. There are some different ways that make it easy to keep young people focused on the right things. I grew up taking dance classes for the last fifteen years and I know for a fact that if I did not have dancing, I would have fallen into the wrong crowd. To this very day, I give back by teaching dance classes at the studio where I began. I continue to this because I know I may very well change some young person’s life. I believe that extracurricular activities play an important role in a child’s life. These hobbies will most likely become passions and then goals.  Over the years I have developed a sense of responsibility and discipline by being engaged in something that I love to do. Every time I set foot into a class, I know that the young girls are looking at me as a role model. This is the same way I looked at my instructors as a kid. When people tell me that I have made an impact on their child, I am so humbled and I know that I have done something great for my students.

My vision is to one day be a midwife and to support young parents, just like someone did for me. I believe in passing the torch. Having support plays a huge part when it comes to young parents. As a young parent, you already feel scared and sometimes sad and disappointed in yourself. Once I gained the support of family, friends, and especially fellow co workers , I knew that I was not alone in the world. I am honored to have people to exchange experiences and advice with. The one thing that I think is important in young parenting is being knowledgeable and not feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing. Support groups are significant with young parenting success. These groups make a great impact on young parents who may be having trouble dealing with  the everyday life of being a parent.

All of these things keep me wanting to wrap my arms around other young people and just show some love. They say “it takes a village to raise a child” yet so many people give up on the young people in their lives. I can honestly say that I will never walk away from this cause and it has truly become a passion and responsibility that I carry.

Back-to-School Time!

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