- Marisa Demarco
- Friday, April 29, 2016
Raquel Ortega was a week away from her 17th birthday when she had her baby girl Gennesis. Though she was skeptical at first, she agreed to participate in the Nurse-Family Partnership, which connects registered nurses with vulnerable first-time moms. They get to know each other during the pregnancy, and then continue meeting after the baby is born.
Ortega was facing a lot of judgment about having a baby, and she felt distrustful of the nurse program. But she eventually found the visits and the knowledge helpful. She is especially interested in her baby’s nutrition, working to make sure Gennesis eats organic produce and a healthy diet.
“When I was pregnant, I was so encouraged. I was like, ‘Yes, I can do this.’ And when she was there in my arms, I was like freaking out. I didn’t know if I was going to be a good mom.” But her nurse, Louise Kahn, assured Ortega that she could do it. “She walked me through it. I think she really shaped me in that way. I became more responsible for her, more aware, more precautious of her and her surroundings, and my surroundings also.”
She says she likes taking her baby on walks. She used to walk when she needed to think. Now, though, she says the experience is different. Gennesis likes to point things out, like the clouds, the sun, a lizard. When they walk together, Ortega says, it’s easy to forget about anything other than her baby’s experience.
Ortega’s goal is to get herself through college—and to make her daughter proud.