Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Meet Dr. Acevedo- Teen Mom to MD

Briefly introduce yourself. (name, hobbies, how many children you have and their age, things like that).
My name is Alizabeth Acevedo.  I am 34 years old. I have a 17 year old daughter, Ashley, and a 19 month old baby girl, Ava.  I was born and raised in Astoria, Queens, NY and I now live in NJ.  I have been married to my wonderful husband for 6 years.  I am a physician, specializing in anesthesiology (making sure people are unaware, pain free, and all their organs are functioning during surgery and making sure they wake up). I love to spend time with my family and I enjoy baking.

Describe your initial thoughts when you found out you were pregnant
Scared, disbelief, disappointment in myself, sadness for my parents, embarrassed, terrified because I had no idea how I was going to raise a baby & continue with school.  Ironically, I did feel a small bit of happiness because after all I was carrying a life inside of me.  I just didn’t know what to do with that new life and my own.

You have accomplished a lot in your life! 
What has been your biggest motivation to keep going?
How do you feel your pregnancy helped you become the person you are today?

My biggest motivation has been my daughter.  My 17 year old “mistake”, “statistic”, “problem”, as society viewed her.  I always wanted to be a doctor, but I got caught up with the wrong crowd and I started doing the wrong things.  I am convinced; that had I not gotten pregnant and had Ashley I would have remained on the wrong path.  I know that I would not have accomplished my goals without her. No matter how difficult it was, I needed that child to set me straight.  I am by no means suggesting that troubled teens get pregnant; I am just expressing how I feel my experience affected me.  I am the exception, not the rule, I am fully aware of that.  However, I know there are teens/young moms who need encouragement and these words are for them.

Who have been your biggest supporter, allies and motivators?
My parents!  They loved and supported me no matter what.  However, they did not make it easy for me.  My mother did not quit her job/her life, to take care of my baby.  I had Ashley in my senior year of high school.  I had only 4 more months of school remaining before graduation.  My sister-in-law (my brother’s wife, also a former teen mom) selflessly cared for Ashley for me to complete high school.  I took 6 months off between high school and college and I worked.  Once I started college my mother cared for Ashley after work while I went to night school. This continued until Ashley was old enough (2.5 yrs old) to attend the daycare at my college.  My parents mostly cared for Ashley for me to go to school, work, or study.  Hanging out with friends was not a priority for them or me.  I had to find another sitter if I wanted to hang out. This tough love made me see that being a parent is hard work.  It also kept me from having another child for a very long time.  Besides my parents and my family, my husband has been with me through a lot.  He’s been my rock and the father Ashley needs.

Being a doctor have you seen first hand a lot of teen/young parents, if so do you feel your past experiences help you when speaking to them?
Yes.  I do try to encourage my patients who are teen/young moms when I encounter them.  As part of my practice, I placed epidurals in women who are giving birth.  I have seen many pregnant teens and I usually take that opportunity to tell them my story, after the epidural of course!

What would you like see in terms of education to young teens and adults when it comes to sexual health education?
Sex Ed at school can only do so much.  I feel sex ed should involve parents.  Unfortunately, teen/young moms tend to be mostly Latino and other minority groups.  In these cultures speaking openly about sex is taboo.  Sex-Ed should try to help parents be more open with their kids instead of pretending that not talking about it means its not happening.

Do you feel being a young parent has in a way helped you understand what your daughter goes through?
Yes.  I vividly recall being my daughter’s age and feeling the things she feels.  However, being a parent is a double edged sword. On one side I can be very liberal, but on the other side I can be strict because I remember so much.  Ashley can attest to this. She has told me that all her friends think its cool that her mom is so young, but she tells them its not always a good thing because of how strict I can be.

Aside from graduating from Medical School and motherhood accomplishments what has been your own personal greatest accomplishment?
Currently, my own personal greatest accomplishment is getting Ashley past the age of 16 successfully.  That is, I’ve always feared her being 16 and getting pregnant.  I never wanted her to go through what I went through or myself going through what my mom went through.  I can proudly say that the “statistic” stops with me and my daughter did not do what society expected her to do.  She is academically successful, emotionally stable, and very well adjusted.