Amanda, a YOUNG MOM, this is my story.
Amanda, 18 lives in Wayne County, North Carolina with her husband Jack* and their son Zachary (21 months)
*Name changed for confidentiality
Amanda is a two year veteran of the Young Families Connect program. Amanda, her husband Jack* and their son Zachary have learned essential skills in the program, from early infant and childhood development to the ABCs of safe sleep: Always alone, on his Back to sleep, in a Crib or sleep space of his own. During the next few weeks, Amanda will share her story about being a young, expectant mom with her (then) fiancé Jack (now husband). Amanda talks about the sadness of having lost one child and the fear of the tragedy re-occurring. Amanda also shares how her support team (her family and Young Families Connect program) helped her to get through this period of anxiety. Enjoy your reading!
Starting a New Family
My boyfriend at the time, Jack*, and I started living together ever since I was fifteen. We actually had a pregnancy before our son Zachary which ended in a miscarriage. That was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with, but nine months later I found out I was pregnant was Zach. We were scared, happy… so many emotions combined in one. We planned Zachary. I was in high school, Jack* was working. I had some health issues (polycystic ovaries and endometriosis) so I had been told that if I wanted to have a healthy pregnancy, I would have to have a baby at a younger age. Since we were planning to get married we decided to plan our son. My mom even knew I was pregnant before I did! She said “you’re pregnant, I know you are!”
I decided to take a pregnancy test because I noticed a stretch mark on my side! Something told me to get tested – I knew my body well so I knew what was up! I went from being excited about being a parent to being scared after thinking about our first loss. It had been nine months since this loss. When the pregnancy test confirmed that I was pregnant, I went to school the next day and spoke to my guidance counselor about the news. My guidance counselor and I developed a fast pace curriculum which helped me to graduate that year (a year early). I took classes online and at school during the school year.
Young Families Connect
I learned about Young Families Connect (YFC) from Ms. Diana and another staff person. Both were doing an informational presentation about the YFC program at my high school during the time I was pregnant. I liked how YFC emphasized education and how they would support participants’ education. I was already pregnant so I called Ms. Diana and have been going ever since! Ms. Diana is AWESOME! My pregnancy was pretty easy – no bouts of depression or mood swings. My family was so supportive that I didn’t feel like I had any real complications – except during my third trimester. I couldn’t control what was going on within my body. My blood pressure was through the roof which meant I had to leave school and stay home on bedrest. I was induced at 37 weeks.
During my pregnancy, I had a wonderful support system, my mom, grandmom, my husband and the Young Families Connect group. Everyone was extremely supportive. I knew that if I ever needed anything there would always be someone there to help me. If I ever needed anybody to talk to, if I ever felt stressed out, I could just vent with my family and Young Families Connect program. My case manager, Ms. Diana, helped me get into a Certified Nursing Assistant program and think about how I wanted to live my life by setting important life goals.
When I was pregnant with Zach, I had three medical appointments because of the doctor’s concern with my blood pressure. I was induced at 37 weeks but was only 5 centimeters dilated after 26 hours. That’s when they told me I was going to have a C-section. It was almost 18 hours before I was able to see Zachary. When I finally saw him, I was filled with pure excitement and love. I was happy to know that I was finally able to make it happen – to have my baby! My husband was so supportive the whole way.
When we were preparing to bring Zachary home, we had a few scares. One issue was that we were having a hard time getting him to eat. The doctors kept an eye on the matter but couldn’t tell us what the source of the problem was. Knowing something was wrong with my baby without knowing the cause or condition was very stressful. We continued to think about the loss of our first baby and how we needed to keep Zachary healthy. Jack and I were both extremely concerned about our baby – but no one ever confirmed what the health condition was.
As this situation was going on, I couldn’t help but also think about all of the things I had heard in my Young Families Connect group such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, infant development and safety. Instead of sleeping, I would just watch Zachary sleep. We were able to take him home eventually where our family members were supporting us emotionally. The Young Families Connect team supported us by visiting us in the hospital, reminding us that they are always here for us. Ms. Donna was calling everyday to make sure we were doing okay, had transportation, checking on our basic and more complex needs. This really gave us a sense of relief.
Young Families Connect and Beyond
Since enrolling in Young Families Connect, I enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant I (CAN-I) program and have since completed that program. I then enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistance II. I completed the Certified Nursing Assistant series when Zachary was 4 months old. Now I am working full time as a CNA-II. I really value my support system – my family, Young Families Connect and the group support from the program. I also appreciate being able to tell my story today, whereas before I was shy and less able to talk in groups.
The skills I’ve learned from the program have even been used in my work setting. I am more outgoing and able to talk to patients at the hospital I work in. I feel comfortable being able to support another young mom by giving her valuable advice and guidance. To date, I have sent many of my friends to the program where they have had a place to talk, to share their fears and dreams. Additionally, I have become a much more confident mother. I appreciate how smart and advanced Zachary is, how well he is developing and my relationship with him. I credit Young Families Connect for this growth. Even though I am graduating from the program, I am still focusing on my goals, one of the most important self-development parts of the program. In a year from now, I see myself in nursing school. Luckily, I have a good job that will pay for my education. I am proud to be in Young Families Connect and proud to have worked with Ms. Donna and Ms. Diana.