My Breastfeeding Journey

breastfeedingFrom the moment I found I was pregnant, I knew I was going to breastfeed. Formula is fine and all, but I wanted the absolute best for my baby. When it was time to start preparing for his arrival, people would ask me what kind of formula I planned on giving him. When I said that I planned on strictly breastfeeding, everyone had an opinion. I heard everything from your breast are going to sag to its not gonna be enough for him because he needs formula. I did not care because it was important to me. When my son was finally born his sugars were low, so he had to stay in the NICU. The nurses told me that he needed my milk to get his sugars up. I pumped my heart out and barely got a tablespoon of milk. She told me that if I did not produce enough, it would be best to give him some formula. I cried and cried when I finally decided to give him formula. It was so important to me that I breastfed and gave him the best and created that bond, so I did not give up. I fed him and pumped for a week before my milk finally came in and I could take him off of formula. There was no better feeling in the world than knowing that I was the only person in the world that could give him this one thing. I was the sole provided of his nutrients, and I took pride in that. When he was 3 months old, it was time for me to go back to school and again I had to face the heart wrenching decision of giving him formula. I felt like I was letting him down. I WAS DEDICATED. In the end, I decided it was best for both of us that I gave him both. He is now 7 months old and I am still at it. He has 4 teeth and he is a biter. I thought it was time to call it quits, but I can’t. It’s a special bond that we share and I am not ready to give it up.

Breast is Best!

Louisha

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

How can I be a Leader when I’m not Even Ready to Parent?

Cam PhotoLeadership

Leadership is kind of a funny word.  Oxford describes it as “The action of leading a group of people or an organization.”  Well, that doesn’t sound so hard right?

Except for the bit about leading (what is leading anyway?)…oh and finding a group of people that believes in you…oh and the bit about actually being able to lead them, having the time to do it, being able to speak so that those people will listen to you, and even getting people to realize that you could be a leader.

So, other than all that, I could be a leader, or you could be, right?

Exactly!  From the moment your child is born, you’re a leader.  Parents are leaders.  Think about it, this is probably one of the only times in most of our lives that someone depends almost entirely on us…for everything.  Our kids literally couldn’t survive without us (No pressure, right??).  So if we’re leaders for our kiddos, why does it stop there?

Being a Young Parent Leader

Being a young parent provides an amazing opportunity to become a leader.  Parenthood teaches people a lot about themselves and about others.  Even though ‘leading’ a 3 year old kid in his day-to-day life might be a bit different from coaching a team or managing a department, I bet there’s more similarities than you think.  I mean, those little eyes look up to you whenever they need guidance, and they probably will for most of your life.  People always need guidance, but with kids, it’s especially important to provide guidance.  Sometimes people think parenthood defines a parent, without realizing that every parent defines their own path of parenthood.

Especially when you’re a ‘young’ parent, people seem to think the doors to your future start closing.  Some people think “young parent” and “successful” are totally incompatible things.  Personally I look for every single opportunity to prove those people wrong.  Hey, I may not be perfect, but I can sure be a decent dad and a successful guy.  I refuse to let someone else label my parenthood is a limiting factor in my life.  All other parts being equal, for some reason, when you’re a “young” parent, some people tend to forget about the good things parenthood does.  Why is it when we see young parents, the “Congratulations!” go out the window, and in comes the questions:

“Are you sure you’re ready?”

“Will you be able to finish school?”

“Do you have enough money for to raise a child?”

I’m not even sure if people expect answers, they just love to point out that parenthood is going to be difficult.  Thanks for the heads up random stranger on the street, I had no idea I looked “too young” to have a kid.  Is it hard?  Sure it is, but parenthood isn’t exactly easy, whether you’ve got a fresh high school diploma or you have a social security check in your hand.  But, if everything in life was easy, how would we grow?  How would we ever rise to the occasion?  Being a young parent sure is hard, but it can also be an amazing step toward a life that we, as individuals and parents, can be proud of.

So really, being a young parent is an amazing way to become a leader.  There is no single force in my life as strong as my son.  Through him, I have grown stronger, learned and accomplished more, and reached new highs in my life.  Stop worrying about all the doors people say get shut, and start looking for the open window.  Think outside the box.  I’ve had more opportunities to help people since becoming a father than I can count, and I’m very proud of what fatherhood has done for me.  Looking into my son’s eyes, I have found motivation, responsibility, determination, confidence, inspiration, and so much more.

I dare you to ask someone about some traits leaders have.

And I bet you $5 they’ll say one of those traits.

-Cam

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Knowledge is Power

My name is Grace Garcia and I’ve been a young parent ambassador for the past 16 months. As my time is up I have had a chance to reflect on my journey.

When I first started the program I believed that I knew exactly what all young parents were like and what they needed because I was a young parent. I believed I knew everything there was to know about the young parent community but over time I realized I was wrong. Not all parents were on food stamps and not all single parents were mothers and not everyone needed to go to college to be successful.

I also went into the program believing that I had made a mistake by becoming a mom and I thought my story would prevent teens from having babies. But my whole view on teen pregnancy was wrong. I associated unplanned and unwanted pregnancy to teen pregnancy and there is a difference that I have come to know.

Being part of the ambassadors program helped me to become aware of the issues my community faced and how these issues directly affect me. For example, racism was something I believed didn’t exist  anymore but now I know how greatly it has impacted me and how racism still exist not just between people but also in the schools systems and in government institutions. This has changed my perception of life and it is a constant reminder when I step outside my home in a “bad” neighborhood.

When I started this program I thought I had made a mistake when I had my child at 19 and even though he made my life better I felt a lot of pressure to say the opposite. I almost felt lucky because I wasn’t like the other teens that were made to think and say that having a child ruined their life. Before I associated unplanned and unwanted pregnancy to teen pregnancy and this was not necessarily true. I love being a mom and I learned that it’s ok!

I have to thank every person who I have come across on this program especially the ones who made me smile. Thank you to the people who supported me during my toughest times. And I have to thank the program for teaching me so much that school and my community failed to teach me after all “Knowledge is power” and I look forward to whatever great things life has next for me.

 

How To Be An Ally To Young Parents

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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!