Then vs. Now

Today I walked in my moms office to talk to her about some stuff. As soon as I opened the door I was hit with heavy air and cigarette smoke. Now this is not to speak badly about my mom shes an amazing person. The thing is I hate the smell of cigarettes and the way they make an enclosed room feel even smaller. However, If I had opened that door a year, year and a half ago, I wouldn’t of minded. Honestly I would have been happy because that means my mom wouldn’t smell the smoke off of me. I use to smoke almost two packs of Newport’s a day. How much I smoked really just depended on what was going on that day. If I was drinking I would smoke a lot, if I was at a club I would smoke a lot, if I was around people that smoked I would have one when they did. What I’m trying to say is that I wasn’t healthy. Ya I was a vegetarian and didn’t drink soda or anything; but I drank jager like it was water, I smoked cigarettes like they were healthy for you. I would eat out a lot, mostly pizza. I guess I was just being 21 in some ways. Then I got pregnant and that’s when everything changed. Not only did I stop smoking but I stopped being anywhere that there was smoke. I started walking 2 miles a day. My eating habits became way better, mostly veggies, and spinach and fruit smoothies. I removed myself from anything that was dysfunctional or negative. I found some coping mechanisms that not only entertained me but kept me going. It was difficult; mainly because I would miss certain things or feel chained down. The thing is I knew I wanted to be healthy so that my son could be healthy. I was his vessel; I was the only one that could make it healthy and safe for him. My biggest motivator to do all this was not wanting to repeat a cycle. Was not wanting to do to my son what my biological mother did to me. At the age of 21 I was just living life day to day, took it as it came. I was in school and working. I was just always up for the unexpected. Sometimes I felt like I was stuck though. Ya I was working, ya I was in school, but what else? Well when I got pregnant with my son Liam I saw what the “what else” was and I am not sure I would have ever of saw that if it was not for him. So from 21 to 22 I went from being the unhealthiest me to the healthiest me. Getting pregnant young definitely has its cons. However, for me it was life changing in a beautiful way. So I ask the next time you see a young parent please do not assume that their life is over and they have no future. Do not see what was taken from them, but rather what was given.

10 Steps Forward 5 Back

I recently went to the RMV to take my permit test. After waiting 3 hours I was told that I could not take the test because I had my son with me, who they do not allow in the testing room. They told me they assumed I had someone with me to watch him. They told me that if I was taking a test in school I would not be allowed to bring my son in with me.

If this had happened to me a few years ago I would have reacted a lot differently then I did. I kindly let them know it would be a courtesy to the customers to either put up a sign, put it on your website, or tell us at customer service. I kindly told them that if I had to take a test a school I could bring him. I kindly told them that I do not have someone I can just leave my son with.

When I was first told I could not take the test I was so angry and discouraged. After failing the test 6 years ago I was so afraid to go in and take it. I got past that fear and went and studied and was ready. I never needed my permit/license until I had my son; it would make life easier for both us. It would also free up space on the bus and train; my carriage is pretty big. I was embarrassed; I was ashamed, and so upset. Honestly, I just felt like I was being shut down; like a door was being shut in my face.

A part of me gets it. They do not want anyone to fail the test because they were disturbed. However, I feel like they need to accommodate their customers if they have children. Why are you turning down someone who is trying to better their life for themselves and child? I have a 4 month old son who breastfeeds every 2-3 hours so he needs to be with me. I should not be turned away because of this.

A big part of me does not even want to go and take the test now. I am more nervous then I was before. I am going to stress about how long it has been since I last breastfed him. I am going to worry about if I can get someone to watch him or come with me; will I have to pay them to watch him? All of these factors are going to affect me while I am taking the test. So what are my chances of passing now?

I guess the only thing I am positive about is that I will go back and take the permit test, I have to. I need this for me and my son. If I fail, then I fail and will be better prepared for next time. I will not let the way certain things are shut me down like they have before. After all it is no longer just about me. Hopefully society can learn to support young parents, learn to help us, and learn to not shut us down.

The Struggle of Coparenting

Ariadna, Mónica i Sergi

You’re not in a relationship.

…and it’s still complicated.

I can hear the collective sigh of frustration.  I know.  I get it.  Coparenting is tough.  But it’s also so very important for your kids!  The other day, I found myself clicking through random articles on the web.  I came across one about the “Best Arrangement for Kids of Divorced Parents.”  Being ever so curious, I opened it.  The article just said what we’ve all heard a hundred times before:  it’s important to have both parents in the picture.

Well of course it is!  That’s easy to say for a researcher with no kids, or for a parent in the perfect relationship.  But what about the rest of us?

The article conveniently left out the fact that coparenting is difficult.  It’s hard to deal with the other parent sometimes.  It’s hard to be flexible, to be understanding.  It’s tough to agree on the same rules and the same schedule.  Every time you drop him off or pick him up, it’s important to make sure you both know the child is the most important part of the relationship.

I’ve been pretty lucky, both of us are in the picture, and we both get a long pretty well, for my son’s sake.  It can still be difficult though, especially when you two don’t agree on something.  Try to remember that the little human in the carseat is still the most important thing to your world.  If you truly want what’s best for them, it’s important to try and make it work with both parents.

You may not think the other parent is amazing, but your kid probably still loves them, and they’re very lucky to have both parents in the picture.  Every time you drop them off, you’re teaching your child that family is important, even if you don’t get along.  You’re teaching your child respect and love.

If you have trouble (like me) try some of these tips for coparenting!

  • Try and have some consistency with rules, schedules, etc.
  • Focus on the kids, not on your feelings or frustrations.
  • Always treat the other parent with respect.  Never say anything bad about them in front of the kids.
  • Try to commit to honest, frequent conversation with the other parent.
  • Be flexible with your time.  If you want a few extra hours with the little one this week, make sure to return the favor.
  • Remember what’s most important, you kiddo!

Being a young mom and suffering from Depression

Being a mother and suffering from depression can be the hardest. Now being a young single mother and suffering from depression can be even more hard for you. I know from experience. There are times where you feel like being in a dark place where nobody bothers you at all. There are times when you don’t want to see or speak to anyone. Sometimes you may even feel like your world is ending and that nobody cares/loves you when in reality you have alot of people who do.

Depression is something you cannot control no matter how hard you try. All you can do is stare at your beautiful child and start asking yourself questions like “what have I done so wrong? Why can’t I be the best mother I can be?” when in reality you are the best mother you can be. No matter what you are going through please NEVER give up. We have to be strong for our kids and they need us. When you are feeling down Play with your child and look at their smile, that’s what’s going to motivate you even more to keep pushing forward.

Never let anyone say you can’t make it because you could. Never let your mistakes tell who you are. We are all human and will make mistakes our entire lives. Our children needs us more than anyone. There’s no pure love like a mother’s love❤💞.

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.

 

How To Be An Ally To Young Parents

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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.