University of Massachusetts Amherst

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When her mother asked her what she wanted for her sweet 15, Amanda had to reveal that she was pregnant. Her mother didn’t take the news well — she told her she brought shame to their family, so Amanda left Puerto Rico when she was almost seven months pregnant. Shortly after, she gave birth to a premature baby girl who she describes as everything she had. “I cried, but of joy,” she says. “I knew I would never leave her alone, not one minute alone.”

Video Transcript

One day my mom asked me what color I wanted for my sweet 15. I stayed quiet and didn’t say anything, because I knew what she was going to say to me: ¡Tu eres una puerca, preñada esta edad! ¡Toda la familia va a ser avergonzado por usted! But I didn’t care, so I left Puerto Rico, and came to the USA at 6 months, going to 7. I imagined having her at 9 months, holding her, breastfeeding, spending time with her.

When I was 7 months, I had a beautiful baby girl. She was 3 pounds, 11 ounces, 12 inches. I didn’t get to hold her. They took her upstairs to the NICU. I stood downstairs waiting with my dad. After an hour, they finally called me. I went and all I seen was little tiny babies. I started crying, cause it hurts, seeing babies like that. She had an IV through her head and legs, and a tube going down her nose. I can still hear the sounds of the machines. They put stickers on their chests to see if their heartbeats are staying steady or going down. I walked till I got to my baby, she was so little, I didn’t even know how to hold her. I cried, but of joy. I knew I would never leave her alone, not one minute alone. She was everything I had. She was the only thing that kept me alive. I held her on my bare chest, holding her close to keep her warm. [name] was there for 27 days.

When I took her home, I was so happy, but I was sad, too. Every girl has that dream, of having a quinceañera. I saw other girls having their sweet 15, they were happy. They enjoyed their bonding time with their moms, being loved by them. I never got to pick a color.