Melissa Nieves Rivera, twenty, with her daughter Grace.

Melissa Nieves Rivera, twenty, with her daughter Grace.

Melissa My name is Melissa. I’m 20 years old. I have a daughter. Her name is Grace and she’s 3 months and a week.

Amanda What was that moment like when you found out that you were pregnant?

Melissa I was in Puerto Rico in my house. I took the pregnancy test. I was scared and shocked and I couldn’t believe it. I was kindof happy but scared at the same time. I was mad because I’m the type of person who likes to party all the time. And then I was like, “Wow a baby! Now I’m going to be stuck in the house. I can’t go out.” But then I was like,  “Maybe it will settle me down. I’ll get out of trouble and just be there for my baby.”

Amanda So did you tell your baby daddy?

Melissa I had broken up with him and I hadn’t heard from him for two weeks. When I finally went to go tell him they told me he was locked up in jail. So no, I didn’t get to tell him.

Amanda Do you want to talk at all about what your relationship was like before you got pregnant?

Melissa Well, I met him at a party. We were getting to know each other for like six months then we started to get serious for like six months. We were basically together for a year and a half and then I got pregnant and he got locked up. He was an… I can’t swear right?

Amanda You can swear. It’s fine.

Melissa He was an asshole. He used to hit me all the time and go out and cheat on me all the time. He was an asshole, that’s it.

I’m going to raise her right. I don’t want her to turn out like me. I want her to be a better person.

Amanda Did you ever have a good relationship with him?

Melissa When we first started off, when we were first dating, but then when we got serious it just started to suck.

Amanda Do you ever want him to know about your child Grace, or is that something you don’t want him to be a part of?

Melissa Well I do because it’s not her fault. I want her to know her real Dad and I want him to know that he has a daughter because it’s his first child and maybe if he knows that he has a child then he’ll change. But then again I don’t. Because of him I had a lot of problems out there.

Amanda Did you feel really young to be pregnant?

Melissa Yeah, I felt I was very young, very young. And I still think I’m very young to be a mother. Sometimes I don’t believe it. I look at my daughter and I tell myself, am I really your mom? But, I’m a mom and I love it.

Amanda How has it been so far with a newborn?

Melissa In the beginning I basically didn’t know how to deal with a baby and I would get frustrated and my mom helped me. But then after that it got easier for me. Sometimes I get frustrated and I start to yell at the baby but then I start to cry like, “What am I doing? She’s only a baby. She doesn’t know.” And it’s hard. I understand her now, when she’s hungry, when she needs her diaper changed. So it’s got easier and I’m doing it on my own.

Amanda Can you talk about where you’ve been living?

Melissa Well I came over here when I was six months pregnant. I first moved to Everett with my mom’s best friend, but I had to get out of there because she’s into drugs. Then after that I moved in with my boyfriend and it was a problem too because he had bed bugs so I was always getting bitten. Then after that I moved in with my step mother but then her mother was always whining ,“Oh when is she leaving? Oh the baby cries too much.” So then I moved in with my mom’s other friend and I don’t believe in witch craft or whatever but she sold herself to the devil. When I moved in with her I already had the baby. My daughter sometimes she would be sleeping and sometimes all of a sudden she would wake up and she was scared for me to touch her and she would start screaming. Any time the lady came near my daughter she would freak out, so I took my daughter to some place and they told me that that lady had done a job on her. So they made a little bracelet for her and I put it on her and they told me that I needed to get out of the house. After that I moved in with Roxannie. After that I moved in with her mother and I’m moving to Puerto Rico June 2nd.

Amanda Has it been hard to deal with all the transitions?

Melissa Yeah, it’s been hard because I want a stable place for me and my daughter. But I have no other choice.

Amanda So what is your daily schedule like now?

Melissa I get up around 5 in the morning when my daughter gets up. When she wakes up I feed her, I change her. I give her a bath and dress her. And I just watch TV with her all day. She loves the TV. She sees it and she just stares at it. And I’m always home now. I’m here.

Amanda Do you think that’s she’s changed you?

Melissa My daughter? Yeah, she has because before I was into drugs and I was always partying and fighting and stealing. And now that I have her I think twice about doing things and I’m not into drugs no more. I haven’t gotten into any fights. I don’t go out. I settled down. I got to think about her.

Amanda Can you talk about what your family was like when you grew up and if you are raising your child any differently then how you were raised.

Melissa Well my childhood. It was good until I turned 14. Then I started to do drugs, sex, disrespecting my mother a lot, going out and not coming back for like two or three days. Going to jail. I went to jail plenty of times.

Amanda So how do you think Graces life is going to be different?

Melissa I’m going to raise her right. My mom, she let me do whatever I wanted and that’s why I turned out the way I was cause I’m not like that no more. But I’m going to be strict with my daughter. Not strict to the extreme. But I’m going to raise her right. I don’t want her to turn out like me. I want her to be a better person.

Melissa Nieves Rivera’s own photos.