This amazing story is by Noelia Valdez who was born in Argentina, moved to America at 15 and had her first baby at 16 years old.

My breastfeeding story, struggles, determination and love

I always knew that I want to breastfeed my kids, in fact I never think in other way to feed a baby. I remember when I was a little girl, while my friends bottle feed their dolls I breastfeed them. It seem to easy at that moment I always say “oh I can’t wait to have my baby and breastfeed him or her” and  I’ll never forget how I  tell everybody ” I going to  have five kids”. At that moment (about 6 or 8 years old) the fact that my mom was a teen mom, it was normal to me, later on she told me about this and who much she struggles with me.
All my mom speaks go to the trash when I get pregnant at 16 years old, But even that I knew is not right, even that everybody tells me that I can’t, I was determinate to rise this child, to breastfeed him, to love him with all my heart and even more. I know thats is not the best to have a child at 16, but he didn’t ask to come, and is on his way now, so I deside to give him the best of me.

During those 9 months I read as much as posible to prepere my self, that was hard because I came from a family who asumme that they know everything and never take the time to learn something new. I keep reading and learning about almost everything, I went to a natural child birth clases all by my self, I read about vaccines, how to bath my baby, who to know if your baby is ready for solid food, even potty training. I never read or recived any information about breastfeed a baby. No body tell me how hard or how many struggles I could have. I asume it was easy, just put the baby on the breast and he do the rest…OMG!!! I wasn’t preper me for that.

On September 14th 2001, I was 2 weeks over due, so my ob-gyn send me to the hospital for induction, my natural child birth plan was ruin, but the health of my baby was more inportant. When I get to the Hospital  I was 3cm dilated, oh I was so happy that lavor start on his own, I breath on every contraction but I knew this was the lavor that I dream about, but I never feel so scare in my life.

On September 15th 2001 at 1:20pm. My son Lautaro born on a drug free delivery, beautiful baby boy,  he weight 9lb 2oz. My most beautiful wish came true , may be he came a little early in my life, but after all this is what I dream of since I was a little girl. Oh gosh my heart was bumping so hard, “he is perfect, I can’t wait to breastfeed him” I tell my mom. But the nurses take him, they say “we need to check him and then we bring him back” ok I say, I was so happy and I didn’t know what to expect, what are the rules on this hospital and I was scare to ask.

I take a shower and wait for my son in the room, 2 hrs later I was worried so I ask was going on, I call the nurse and ask for my baby. I wasn’t prepare for what comes next. They bring my baby, he was sleeping, I carry him in a football position and take my breast out “he already eat” say the nurse “what, what he eat? why?” I reply, “we give him formula, there is a pack under his crib” I just cry and say again “why?” she replay in a very mad way “because your baby needs to eat”.

How hard was this to me, I was sad, I was mad but more than ever I was determinate to breastfeed my son. I start by holding him close to my breast, alot of skin to skin contact. No body tell me that, it was just instict I gest. He was very sleepy the first day, any way I attemt to breastfeed him every hour without any success. He already had a very bad nipple confusion and I didn’t know what to do, no body in that hospital wants to help, in fact they were pushing me to use formula. Ten years ago I even know that lactation consultant exist, I realy feel hopeless, my mom didn’t breastfeed me and my aunts who both had infants at that time bottle feed them.

I never understood why they give him formula, I was so frustrated that I forget about my fears and call the nurse again, she give me the most stupid excuses “oh because you are so young, we think that formula it was the best for you and your baby, is hard for a young mom to nurse”. Oh realy?, so because a woman is 4 or 6 years older that me thats make breastfeeding more easy? that frustrate me more, why they assume that I don’t want to breastfeed? in what way formula was better for me and my baby? it was very confusing to hear that from a health professional. To make the thing worse my nipple were flat, my milk was already there and my breast was sore.

The next day my mom bring me a breast pump, I start pumping no only to give my baby “My Milk” but for my effort to give my nipples in shape. While I was puming another nurse came in and told me ” if you can’t breastfeed, give him a bottle, his starving” ohh how mad I was, but at that moment I knew it I can’t let him get between my determination on breastfeed my son, they no going to understand me. So I smile and say “ok give me the formula” as soon as she left I throw it to the trash.
Once at home, I was so engorged, the pain was afoul every attemt to nurse him frustrated me more.

Any way I keep trying, I didn’t know how to hold him, who to make him latch correctly. He only was able to take a tinny part of my nipple and that was very painful. I cry for 2 days straigh, more than once feel to give up, but I couldn’t fail my son, he deserve the best and I deserve this beautiful experince in life, at that moment I didn’t know that breastfeed my son could be so beautiful. It was just the right natural way to feed a child. Women breastfeed their childrens for years, even before the formula was invented, so why not me? what is the different between those woman to me? even many years ago woman has childrens very early in life, be a teen mom is not a reason for not breastfeed.

I keep pumping, “at least he has mine milk”  that was enough for me I want to do what nature make me for,  nourish my child.

Day number 3 came and after taking a shower to relief my breast it came to my
mind “a nipple shield” I scream calling my mom, she say “what? what is that?” “a nipple shield is a silicone nipple to put in my nipple, that may be work”. She went to buy one, two hours latter finaly I was breastfeeding my son from the breast. How beautiful, oh gosh all my life I was having this picture in my head and it was finally happend. That day I understand that breastfeed my son is more than feed him,  is a conection that I never had with other human being, is pure love.

Weeks fly fast and a 8 weeks old we wean the nipple shield and both master the art of breastfeed. Soon enough to start school, at that moment I’m even care about nurse in public, I was doing the most natural so what my school mates think of me to be honest I do not care, no person in this wolrd could be more inportant that my
son, there is no person in this world that I could love more than my son.

I was happy and sad at the same time. Leave my son when I go to school, the absent of my baby’s father, the lack of support from my family who always was telling me “you can’t graduate, you are ruin your life, you don’t know how to raise a child, you this, you that…etc”. All this take me to a deep post partum deprecion. To make everything worse, the idea to let my mom take care of my son while I go to school kills me. Don’t take this in a bad way, I love her, but the true is that she never take care of me, she didn’t have any experience with babies and she was telling me to give
my son yogurt at 2 months old. But I didn’t have a choise and I realy apreciate her help.

For this 2 months I pump for my son, so he can have my milk (not yogurt) while I’m at school, everything was going great and I was prepare to start my senior year. But more barriers came to my right of breastfeed my son.

Here comes my new challenge in motherhood, school was from 6am to 2pm, take my pump with me for pumping sessions between clases or at lunch time. Soon I found out that my school not allowed me to pump, if I want to pump must do it in the bathroom sitting on the toilet, what of curse was very disgusting.

The pain of my congestion breasts was terrible and I have embarrassing  leaks all day, and the nursing pads fail to handle it. Hopefully my mom agree to take my son to school at lunch time for a feeding. Oh how thankful I was with her, I couldn’t survive the other way. It was hard, no only because I was a student and a mom, but also I was a inmigrant from other country learning a new lenguage trying to finish high school so my hard work was doble.

Months past fast and then I remember what the nurse told me ” we think that formulait was the best for you and your baby, is hard for a young mom to nurse” wow!!! I can’t imaging me with all the work that I had, getting up to prepare bottles. I was realy happy for my determination to breastfeed, now I just take my breast out and continue sleeping or even do my homework with him in the breast.

I finish high school then I start a my nursing carrear, while having a part time job selling newspaper on the miami streets, and of curse continue with my ESOL clases. I did it!!!, life was very busy but when I was breasfeeding my son life stop and I was able to breath again, to take this time to enjoy our self, that was my break my reward
for a long day of hard working finaly my tight body can relax with a warm hug.

Breastfeeding my son was the picture that I had in my mind when I was a little girl, but I never knew how inportant can be this to me. To be honest I was depress, very depress and this wasen’t something new, I didn’t have a nice childhood, my mom was a teen mom, my dad leave when I was 1 year old, I meet him for the first time when I was 13 years old and my mom had a hard time keeping a relationship, many mens enter and leave our life all the time, it was a very disfuntional family. But the idea of having someone to love, have a unconditional love in my life help me, I have to admit after 3 attemt of suicide, the birth of my son save my life. When I was 14 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post traumatic streess disorder (something happend to me when I was 5) with severe depretion I always try to hurt my self, I was hateing my life, before my son came to this world all my sky were very cloudy. Those bad memories it seem to no matter any more since I saw that pregnancy test.

Now I have this little person to love, to give the best of me, breastfeed my son was more than feed him, it was pure love. I never felt that way before, his eyes looking at me  with a thankfull expresion, everytime he smile at me with my nipple in his mouth it was a life saver therapy.

He change me, breastfeed him change me. I feel proud of me for never give up, for trust my body and my maternal instit. If I have to past all my bad experience in childhood to have him at the end I do it again.

I may be feel sad or depressed sometimes, life isn’t perfect. But when I looked at my son and start remember those days, his smell, oh how beautiful. Dosen’t exist any anti-depressed more efective than breastfeed my son. Is hard to put in words how our heart feels, but if someone ask me what its feel when I nurse my son I say ” I feel like my heart is trying to get out from my breast, as a milk”.

I breastfeed him for 24  months untill he wean him self, no body can take that away from me now, that beautiful picture is going to be with me until I say my last good bye. No body take never a picture of my son nursing in my peaceful arms, in my gentle breast. But I remember every little second, I no have it in my mind, I have it in my heart. Now I know what nature put our breast close to our heart.

Ten years past from those days, Lautaro is an amazing almost 10 years old now, very kind, always trying to help others. He is in 3 grade with a 6 grader level, very responsable with his school work.

His teacher  just told  me:”he is amazing, is a joy having him in my class, he is very polite and always volunteer to help his peers. He love you to dead, in one of his redactions he wrote how inportant you are for him, and how him wants to make you proud”. I was in tears when she told me that.

I can’t be more proud of him, and you can see it in my face. He is an awesome big brother, he care about his sibling so much, he teach them, and he always was there to help me, or just give me a glass of water when he saw me breastfeed his little sibling. Last week I was breastfeeding my 4 months old and Lautaro say ” Wow mama he is getting so big and he is so healthy because you give him your milk, you give me your milk too, good job!!! and by the way thanks mama”. you no have any idea how my heart start jumping in my chest to hear that from my son.

People can say, that teen moms, are iresponsable, they can say teen mom can’t finish high school , that they marriage fails, that  their kids are bad behaved or fail school, they can say we are to young to take good care of our kids, even say that we can’t breastfeed.

Well I’m the proof that all this is wrong. I’m not saying “is easy” because is not, in fact is realy hard, now with my 4th son I’m a stay at home mom, I been married with a wonderful men for almost 8 years now, I own a home and Im just enjoing taking care of my kids full time.

Motherhood is not easy, not only for teen moms, for all new moms. But at the end we realize that we can do it and is the most rewarding career of our lifes.
Noelia Valdez

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