At the end of her final year in high school, Kaleena Pysher found out she was pregnant. Being a teen mom was not part of her plan -- she knew she would not be able to raise a child by herself. In November, when Kaleena's baby was born, the little girl was adopted by family friends.
Kaleena knew, however, that breast milk is vitally important for the development of an infant. She decided that she had to do what was best for her little girl and that meant providing breast milk. She fought through the physical and emotional pain to provide what she could for her little girl.
"Your whole life has to be put on hold because your whole life is dedicated to that life."Kaleena knew she did not want to rely on her parents, or go on welfare to help raise her child. She had seen the struggles of a teen mom firsthand when her sister gave birth at only 14-years-old.
Pysher had made her decision for adoption only three months into her pregnancy. However, she was advised to wait to find prospective parents until she reached seven months. Kaleena knew that adoption was the right option for her. She heard that a family friend, and her partner, would adopt the child. Kaleena felt that this couple was the right choice.
"I would trust her with my life. I would trust her with my baby. She will get quality love, parental guidance and a good education. She wouldn't be able to get that with me."An open adoption was agreed upon, which means that Pysher could play a role in the child's life.
Part of that role, it turned out, was to provide the natural nourishment for the infant. Pysher suffered physical pain in the form of cracked, bleeding nipples. Her emotional pain was just as real, as the absence of her baby weighed heavily on her.
"I was not wanting to grieve for that loss," she said. "I basically swept all of my feelings under the rug. I know in my heart and my mind this is the best thing."
She sees a therapist once a week and it helps.
The couple that has adopted the little girl is now starting to add formula into her diet. As the demand for Kaleena's breast milk dwindles, she worries that she will no longer be needed.
"As long as I'm still giving them breast milk, they still need me for something. (The baby) still needs me," she said. "But now that I'm tapering off, I feel like they're not going to need me anymore."
She is finding other ways to help out. She will be donating her surplus to a milk bank in Colorado. Her breast milk will be used to feed premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.Kaleena's biggest fear is that once the relinquishment papers are signed, the adoptive parents will not allow access to the child. The couple, however, assures the teen mom that will not be the case. Kaleena can look forward to a future of birthday visits, video chats, and even buying Christmas gifts for her little girl.
Adoption is a hard choice for any mother at any age. Kaleena, at 19 years-old, has faced her struggle and did what was best for her and her child, proving that love can get us through almost anything.
[Image via Screenshot from Alaska Dispatch News]