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Table 2 Elements of the Teens’ Life Journeys

From: Early breastfeeding experiences of adolescent mothers: a qualitative prospective study

Teen 1 Teen 2 Teen 3 Teen 4 Teen 5
She hopes to make her parents proud, finish school, go to college and become a nurse. She wants to be a good mother and she also hopes to be married to her boyfriend so that he can take care of her, her family, and the baby: “I just want to get married because I want him to be beside me and be there for me and my baby taking care of us and stuff… He want to be a good father and want to take care of my baby and my family and me.” She does not want any more children until she is 30, or at least after her 3rd year in college. She desires to be a cosmetologist and a fashion designer. She plans to complete high school, study business at the community college and provide for the baby in the best way possible. She wants to go to college for the arts and possibly marry the baby’s father. If she doesn’t marry the baby’s father, she wants to find someone that will “love her and her baby.” She wants to go to college after completing high school. She mentioned that she wanted to be a pediatrician or an attorney, but she has not decided.
She reported during the baseline interview that she felt she was too young to be a mother. She is excited about becoming a mom, but her current concerns center around raising a boy: “I was just talking to my, uh, my, uh, my mentor about the way I’m just nervous about having a boy… I really wanted to have a girl, because I thought I could relate to her better, you know? But I didn’t think I could really raise a boy, but since I now I know I’m having a boy, I’ve got to deal with it .” She does not want the child to end up in juvenile facilities or to do the same things that she used to do. She wants her baby to “be civilized and a good person.” At baseline she did not report any concerns except “delivery”. She reported at baseline, “They say ‘Babies are a blessing’, but what, I mean, I’m not saying my baby was a mistake, but it wasn’t on purpose either. So I just hope she doesn’t end up like me…getting pregnant. I want her to be able to do her plans. I was like, ‘I’m going to college. I’m getting out of high school, going to college. Get married first’, you know, all that good stuff.  
    Now I have to change my life. Okay, baby here. Go to college. Maybe get married to the baby’s father.  
She is living with her mom, dad, brother and sister. The baby’s father married the teen, and has also moved into the home. The teen’s family and the baby’s father help her with the baby. When she goes to school, the baby “goes to day care.” She mentioned that she gets help from the nurse at school, but she did not specify the kind of help that she receives. Her grandmother and sister watch the baby when she goes out with the baby’s father and when she does her homework. She believes she gets support from her family “Like when I get tired and stuff they take care of my baby. . .sometime I need a break. Me and my husband go watch a movie”. . . .I’m okay [with being a mother] because, you know, after school I get to spent time with her and I got time to do my homework. That gives me a little time because I’ve got support from my family. They can take care of her while I do my homework and all the stuff. She is living with her mother and siblings and was preparing to live with the baby’s father at the time of the follow-up interview. Of her life she states, “It’s been 2 months since I had my baby. Now I work at least about 50-something, 40-something hours at my job. I still hang with my friends and stuff, and I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend. He helps with the baby a very lot. I put him in daycare this week. My mom keeps him when I go to work. Together at home, we just like just sit up and watch TV. I’ll play with him. And like he’ll want a bottle or something, and I’ll feed him, and he’ll sleep like half the day, and half the day he’ll be up. “ She has not yet gone back to school. She currently lives with her mom, sisters, brother and grandmother. Her boyfriend “Is learning slowly but surely” [about helping with the baby]. Her mother just had a baby: “it’s kind of a pro and a con. Because it’s a pro because she can help me and I can help her…But it’s a con because it’s like two babies”. Her grandmother and boyfriend’s aunt will help with the baby while she is in school. She gets support from her TPMP mentor “I text her all the time…Even if it is not about the baby. She just checks up on me. Like we’re friends.” …She told me that if I ever felt overwhelmed or if I just need like ‘oh, my goodness, I need somebody t o talk to or something’ she said I could call her.” She is a freshman in a college, which stipulates: she must live in the dorm; she cannot bring her baby to her dorm room; and she must spend the weeknights at her room: “My residence director told me “don’t bring her here, because if she falls off the bed, she get hurt or something. I’m like ‘she doesn’t even move. She’s going to sit right there.’ I can see if she’s one years old running around. But they were like ‘to make it fair to everyone no matter how old your baby is she can’t come’. And I was like ok. But she can stay in the parlor if she’s with me.” She goes to her mother’s house after school and then takes the bus back to campus to be there by 11pm curfew. Various family members and the baby’s father help during the day and her own mothers keep the baby at night. She currently lives with her mom and sisters and brother. Her grandmother watches the baby when she is in school. The teen’s father helps when he can, but he lives across town and does not have a job.
  She puts her baby in daycare and her mother also cares for him when she works. She believes her extended family is supportive “Like my mom, she helps – she’ll keep the baby while I work or my boyfriend would, or his mom. And like if I need somebody like if I got a lot of things in my hand or something, I’ll say “can you grab that bottle. . . And like financially, um, my boyfriend, my mother, and his mother buy stuff. And that’s about it.” She also gets support from her mentor at the TPMP.    
At 9 weeks postpartum, she said “I don’t feel like I’m young, I feel like I’m getting old. I feel like I’m a mother, a woman… And I like it.” Her hardest struggles included the baby’s crying and not getting sleep: “Because you in school, you know, at night when the baby cry you don’t get much sleep. When you go to school, you don’t real concentrate on the school, because you get tired.” She described changes in her lifestyle since becoming a mother as “I don’t party as much as I used to, I don’t do drugs, I don’t hang out with the wrong people.” Current struggles include financial constraints and the necessity to keep the baby with her: “I really want to get him circumcised and I don’t have money for it. Or if I want to go somewhere and I don’t want to bring him, that’s a struggle I have…I have a baby now. I’ve got to bring him or I’ve got to stay at home and can’t go anywhere. After the birth, she spends most of her time with her baby and the father: “Since I had he r I really try not to associate with a bunch of people…I think once you have kids your mindset kinda changes, and you…don’t want to hang around and do stuff you used to do as much…So I spend most of my time with my boyfriend or her [the baby].” At four weeks postpartum she stated, “My life changed a lot… Pretty much in good ways. Because I find myself, like I said, not wanting to like do things tha t I know that shouldn’t be doing. I always like think before I do something. It makes you a lot more cautious in what you do. I just – I just look at her, and I’m just happy that, you know what I’m saying, even though me being such a young age, I think that it’s made me mature and grow up, which I needed to do (laughing). It’s not easy, but I think after it’s all said and done it’s worth it.” Most of her struggles after becoming a mother stem from limited finances due to not being able to work, being in college, conflictual family relations and perceived dwindling of personal support and relationship with the baby’s father. She has food stamps and Medicaid, but she explained that her mom is “going through hard times too” and the family needs money. She is concerned about filing child support papers because of the perception that this action would put more strain on the relationship with the baby’s father. She also struggles with the limited time that she has with the baby: “It’s unhelpful to me I always don’t spend as much time as I want to with her.” She recognizes the trade-offs as she is wistful about missing programs at her college in order to spend time with the baby every day. She likes to have the baby sleep with her and see the baby smile when she wakes up. “I – I just want to be a good example for my baby. I just – I want her to be able to be proud of me. Some people who have teenage mom, they’re not – it’s like they’re so ashamed of their mom or something. I don’t want that. I want her to be so – so proud. I want her to be able to, ‘My mom did this,’ and ‘My mom did that.’ I want her to brag. Not brag till people want to slap her. I just want – I just want her to be proud” and “So, all this going through this is like, ‘Why did I choose to keep her?’ but when I look at her, I – I see why I chose to keep her. [My baby] can have apple juice. So, I buy her apple juice, because I’m pumping as much milk as she eats. I can’t pump that much every two hours if I’m away from her for 12 hours. That means I’m pumping every two hours. But I’m only pumping two ounces. She eats six ounces every time she eats. So, just give her apple juice. Give her soup. Let’s get her food. Don’t be lazy and just put a bottle in her mouth. Feed her food [My family won’t] do that. And I’m like, ‘Please, feed her food. She’s not going to have anything to eat’ They have formula in there for back up. She doesn’t need formula for back up. Y’all might as well throw that away, because it’s going to get old. Don’t feed her formula. Feed her food. And they’re so lazy they don’t want to do it. She said: “We hardly go out unless we’re going out to lunch or something…“Everybody is supportive, spending time with us and taking us where we got to go. Because I don’t have a car. I don’t got a job. So, I rely on somebody all the time. I mean I don’t get frustrated, but he does like - He stays awake all the time. It’s a struggle having to rely on everybody for everything. I want him in daycare so I can get a car and a job so I can do it on my own and not have to rely on everybody else. But I just love being a mom. Just brighten my world. It changed a lot, but it was for the better.
As far as she knows she is the only teen her age to have a baby in her community.   The biggest struggle she mentioned is not getting enough sleep.