kelliMy name is Kelli, I am 17 years old, and I have a 19 month old daughter named Nevaeh. It was December 2009, when things started to change for my family; it was like our world was turned up-side-down.

It was December 23, 2009, when I found out I was pregnant; I was 14 years old and had no clue how I was going to tell my parents that their youngest child of five was pregnant, when they had already gotten the worst news they could possibly get. Just two week before, my parents got into a car accident. We found out my mother had broken a few ribs and my father had lung cancer. Then, I had to tell them I was pregnant.

When I told my mother, she was disappointed in me. Who wouldn’t be? But she told me it was another thing we had to go through together. My father, on the other hand, did not take it so well. He said I was too young and that I wasn’t ready to go through any of it.

My boyfriend was abusive and manipulative, but I was too in love to see it and too scared to leave him once I did see it. I became so stressed, my blood pressure rocketed, my liver and kidneys were shutting down; they had to take my baby at just over 6 months. The doctor thought I was going to die and that my baby might not make it either.

I had to focus on my own recovery the day my daughter was born. The doctor told me I wouldn’t be able to see her until I had my own health under control. Nevaeh was doing remarkably well;  she was breathing on her own, but she needed a tube feeding to eat. She was only three pounds when she was born. She couldn’t come home until she started to gain weight consistently. Nevaeh got to come home with me after 15 days of being in the NICU.

While I was in the hospital, I got to see firsthand how my boyfriend treated others who were important to me. Seeing him disrespect my family gave me the strength to move on and focus on my baby. I didn’t want Nevaeh to grow up thinking its okay for people to treat her badly or for her to see her mommy get hurt or treated badly.

As you can see now, I am still here and healthy, and so is my little girl; she is now 19 months and very healthy and happy. I don’t think I could have done it without the help from my family and the Meld parenting group we have at my high school.

I was in class when I was called down to the counselor’s office to be told about the Meld parenting groups held by Terry Lynch for teen moms and moms-to-be. At first, I didn’t think I would be interested because I had already been cut down by so many other people that I just didn’t want to meet any more people who would look down on me for the mistakes I had made. It was my first day in the Meld group, and I had already felt as if we were a family. I immediately felt that this was where I was supposed to be; I was not the only one in this situation. I have people to talk to that I actually trust, people I can literally tell anything to, and they will not judge me for it.

I enjoy the Meld group because I know when I walk into group meetings, I am not alone. There are other young mothers that are still going to school, working, and taking care of their babies, just as I do. It is nice to have people to talk to who actually understand what I am going through and to compare different discipline techniques to see which ones work the best for me and my daughter. Our Meld group leader always has different ways to approach situations we come across as well. The Meld group not only gives me a sense of belonging, but also has taught me and continues to teach me how to better my communication skills, budget my money, relieve stress, and properly care for my baby.

I have been in the Meld group at my high school for three years now. It has taught me so much about being a good parent. It is hard to say where Nevaeh and I would be today without the help we have received. We both can’t say thank you enough!!

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