“I’m a New Person”

By Nichelle N.

I was connected to Healthy Babies Project when I became pregnant with my son. I was scared before my first visit, but the staff here made me feel very comfortable. They helped me find a stable home for me and my child and also provided one-on-one counseling. I loved coming to HBP and feeling loved.

A new program for teen moms

Photo by Beverlie Lord, Satsun Photography

Once my pregnancy progressed, I was introduced to the Teen Parent Empowerment Program (TPEP) which helps pregnant teens become wonderful mothers and care takers.  The staff taught us how to care for the baby before birth and after delivery. I met a lot of mothers-to-be who were going through the same experience as me and made good friends. TPEP showed me that there was much I could accomplish, even though I was young. I grew strong bonds with the instructors who were like mother figures to me. My case manager made sure I was healthy and doing what was necessary during my pregnancy.

A new opportunity

After I had my son, I continued with TPEP and with counseling sessions. As part of the program, the class went on a weeklong retreat with our babies to upstate New York. Each cabin at the retreat center had a play room for the children. In the morning we got the babies ready for the day, had breakfast, and took the babies to their day program. I was afraid the first time I took my son, and I even cried, but the staff took good care of my baby. After we dropped the babies off the mothers participated in activities and games. After our day was complete we collected our children, had dinner, and went back to our rooms to prepare for bed. I had a wonderful experience. I was challenged to do things I thought I could never do. I meet other young mothers from all over the world and we all told our stories. When the trip was over, I was a new person and also felt I’d become a better mother.

A new and better life

When I returned home, I was more dedicated to school and making a better life for myself and my son. I got my own apartment and started college. In July I will graduate from Everest College with an Associate’s Degree in Medical Assistance. Through it all, the HBP staff supported me by calling me, checking on me, and making home visits.  After I completed TPEP, I graduated. That day was one of the proudest times in my life. I don’t know where or who I would be if hadn’t enrolled in TPEP. I miss my TPEP friends and the support, but now it is time for me to be on my own.

If you’re a teen, I encourage you to continue your education and go on to college before you think about having a baby. Let me say one thing to pregnant girls. Stop and think about what makes you happy and what is best for you and your child, no matter how negative or discouraging others can be. There are people who will support you. I found them at Healthy Babies Project. This has been a wonderful experience. I look forward to sharing my story again to give hope to other women.

If you know a pregnant woman or expectant family who needs help, please refer them to HBP at (202) 396-2809.