Client story – Lorena.

Halfway through eighth grade, Lorena found out she was pregnant. She was scared and really worried about how things would go. Her mom had just gone through health trauma and her dad was not around. The father of her future child was no longer a part of her life.

“It was really hard and I didn’t know what to do,” Lorena said. “Since I was in middle school, people made fun of me. I was really confused. I didn’t really know anything. I knew how to change diapers, but I wasn’t sure on how to take care of a baby. It was scary.”

Her local health clinic told her about Nurse-Family Partnership and Lorena voluntarily enrolled.

On a cold December day, Sara – who was to become Lorena’s nurse home visitor – arrived at Lorena’s house in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota. She sat down in a dim-lit room, and asked Lorena some questions.

Sara knew since Lorena was only 13, hers was a high-risk pregnancy – with a greater chance of delivering preterm.

Lorena was quiet and slow to warm-up. When asked how she felt about being pregnant, Lorena responded “okay,” while shrugging her shoulders and trying to mask her nervousness.

Lorena later remarked, “Yeah, I was a little shy, I guess…You know, the first time meeting somebody.”

As their relationship grew, Lorena had many questions for Sara about how her body was changing. In addition to the normal self-conscious anxieties around body image that come with being a teenager, Lorena wondered if her stomach stretch marks would go away.

After completing eighth grade, Lorena gave birth in July to a beautiful baby girl, who she named Amy.

Then Lorena needed Sara’s help with signing up for health insurance, welfare, food support and scheduling well-child check-ups for her baby girl. Lorena’s mom was supportive of her daughter, but as a primary-Spanish speaker – who had emigrated from Mexico – she could not assist Lorena with making appointments.

While parents typically do the scheduling and inform their young teens of their next doctor’s appointments, Lorena – now 14-years old – had to find the courage to do it for not only herself but for her baby.

Lorena said, “I didn’t like talking to people on the phone. I wasn’t sure what to say.”

“Making phone calls can be scary for a young person,” said Sara. “I remember at that age being intimidated to order a pizza.”

Luckily, Lorena had Sara to talk her through how to navigate the health care system.

“We would call together, and put the phone on speaker,” said Sara. “I would say listen to how I talk, we introduce ourselves, summarize what we are calling for, and ask for the right person.”

That’s how Lorena learned how to share her health care concerns and ask questions.

By the end of their visits together, Sara saw a confidence in Lorena as the young mom now said, “I can do it. I know how to do this now.” She would follow through on the goals Sara helped Lorena set at each home visit, and make appointments by herself for things like dental care.
Lorena also has impressed Sara with her love for reading. She currently can be found immersed in 700-page fantasy novels.

When Lorena was pregnant she told Sara: “I know I will be successful as a parent if my daughter comes home from school one day and decides to read a book instead of turning on the TV.”

Now each night before tucking Amy into bed, Lorena reads Amy a book. Amy’s current favorite is the Dr. Seuss classic “Green Eggs & Ham.”

In addition to teaching Lorena about the importance of reading to build vocabulary, Sara also taught Lorena to speak to Amy about everything she is doing to help her learn words.

“I make sure I talk to her a lot even when I am changing her diaper,” said Lorena. “Like say, ‘Oh, I am changing your diaper.’ You know, so she can learn quicker. It has really made a difference.”

Two-year-old Amy is now putting sentences together and according to Lorena, “talking a lot.” She is on track developmentally, Sara remarked, and is “so expressive and social, happy and loves to look back at you as she is playing with a mischievous smile.”

When commenting on what life is like as a teen parent, Lorena remarked, “At first, it was hard being a mom and a high school student at the same time, because you can’t hang out with your friends and that stuff you would normally be able to do. But I mean, I love my daughter…being in school means a lot for her. It means a lot for me too. But if I don’t have a future, how can I be a role model for her?”

Lorena is grateful for the support Sara gave her to keep her focused about staying in school and using time management. Lorena was able to start her freshman year at a special high school for teen moms that offers daycare. She later transferred her sophomore year to a mainstream high school to take higher level classes to prepare her for college.

“I’ve thought about my life and what I want to do with it,” Lorena said. “And with Sara’s help, I’ve been able to figure it out even more.”

“I can’t wait for college!” she exclaimed. Now in her junior year, Lorena is excited about the college fair coming up and she is planning to take the ACT.

“It’s a pleasure to hear her think out loud what she could be,” said Sara. “Sometimes young women really struggle with school and not believing that they are good at anything. With Lorena, she knows she can do something with her life.”

On one home visit when Sara and Lorena were doing a lesson on child temperament and personality, it sparked Lorena’s interest in talking about her own strengths.

“I really like science, thinking about biochemistry,” said Lorena. “I think I want to be a registered nurse. I like Sara’s job. It’s cool. I like helping people get well and finding out what’s wrong with them. I’ve asked her questions about what it is like. She said that I could do it and that I am a quick learner.”

“I believe in her,” said Sara. “I know she can go far. She is a really smart and driven young woman.”

As a pregnant 13-year-old teen, Lorena overcame significant adversity to become the confident, young woman she is today. At a critical time, her nurse Sara provided the support she needed. Sara’s belief in Lorena empowered her to discover her life’s dreams and give her daughter Amy a brighter future.

This Nurse-Family Partnership program is implemented through St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health in Minnesota.

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“I’ve thought about my life and what I want to do with it. And with Sara’s help, I’ve been able to figure it out even more.”
– Lorena

Download the entire client story >>


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