By: Dashira Pomales-Rivera
My name is Dashira Pomales-Rivera. I am 18 years old and a mother to a beautiful six-month-old baby boy named Mason Dean Pomales.
I found out I was pregnant at the age of 17 on March 14, 2013. My due date was set to be October 24, 2013. I was scared. Not only had I never held a child before, but also I was young. I was stereotyped and shamed by my so-called “friends.” I cried, but had hope. I had a human being in my womb, a little half of me. My future began at the perfect moment, and here’s why.
I dropped out of high school on my sixteenth birthday. I was a very depressed individual. I was in a terrible relationship with the father of my child. I knew I had to end it but I just didn’t have the strength and courage in me to let go. I had suffered so much but my son gave me the strength to say enough is enough. I didn’t want my child to grow in that environment. So, with that being said, I ended that relationship soon after I found out my child was a boy.
I can honestly say that leaving was the best decision. It was a big relief like a weight had been lifted. I hadn’t felt that good in so long. It was definitely hard. I just kept reminding myself that it was for the best. I am so lucky to have my family’s support! My depression soon turned into impatience and being anxious to just hold my boy.
During one of my first appointments with my midwife, I saw an ad on the wall about a school named The Care Center in Massachusetts. It is an alternative program for pregnant and parenting teens that have dropped out of high school. I felt this ad was placed there just in time for me to see it. It was fate and a perfect time to get started on living my life, which felt controlled for way too long. I immediately called and got in touch with one of the counselors, and before I knew it, I was a student!
It took a while, but I finally went to take a test at the Kittredge Center in Holyoke’s Community College on September 25th. Not too long after, on October 7th, I found out I had passed via phone call. I’ll never forget that day. I was standing in the middle of my building, my son’s crib had arrived and my oldest sister was there. I was full of joy. I couldn’t believe that was it. Just like that I was a step closer of being a mother in college!
On November 1, 2013 at 10:21 p.m. I experienced perfection and beauty. My son was finally here. I brought him into this world. All of my worries flew out the window and out of this world. It was just he and I. This moment was what I had been waiting for. This little man stole my heart.
Months later, I got an email stating one of the women from The Care Center would be flying to Washington D.C. to participate in a briefing to discuss young parenting issues during a week of action dedicated to us. The briefing would take place on May 16, 2014. I would be the mother flying and speaking at the briefing. Me!
I had mixed emotions at first because I haven’t flown in ten years and I would be flying alone! I felt extremely excited that I would be able to do something for such a good cause. There was no shame in being a young parent. This briefing was dedicated to sharing our experiences, not to judge, but to find ways to support. My anxiety rose to a higher level. Despite this, I knew I could do it. ¡Soy poderosa! (I’m powerful).
The taxi picked me up at home and dropped me off at the airport. Everything was great. In fact, it was better than I thought! Finally I got to the hotel (which was awesome! Another thing I’ve never done!). I had arrived to Washington, D.C. Who would’ve thought that I would be there? Definitely not me. I was anticipating the briefing. Knowing people wanted to know about my experiences and what they could do to help meant so much to me.
This briefing was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I want to thank The Care Center for this opportunity, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and The Woman Organizing Across Ages for providing support with advocacy training, and to my son, Mason Dean, for making me the woman I have become. Gracias. This won’t be the last time you hear from Dashira Pomales-Rivera. This is only the beginning.