April 9, 2021
Amanda’s childhood was filled with pain, loss, and instability. Amanda lived in 16 different homes before she was 18, including rooming houses, shelters, and friends’ homes. In these homes she was exposed to drug use from her mother and sexual abuse from her mother’s boyfriends. Her dad passed away when she was a teenager. All of this led to unhealthy relationships and struggle. Amanda had become addicted to drugs and was with an abusive partner who gave her drugs so he could prostitute her out – she was soon pregnant and had no idea who was the father. She wanted better for her child. She stopped using drugs and tried to straighten out her life. Her mom was the only family she had and good or bad, she was still her mom. Unfortunately, Amanda’s mom passed while Amanda was pregnant, and she really struggled with losing her one person. I do not think many of us could imagine not having anyone else in our lives to turn to, but Amanda truly had no healthy family or friends should rely on for support. Having struggled with depression and anxiety since she was a child, Amanda had a very hard time holding a job and she lost her apartment.
In 2018, Amanda was 18 years old and 19 weeks pregnant. Moreland OBGYN referred her to the Safe Babies Healthy Families program, and one of our case managers, Shaylen Ondricka contacted her immediately to set up an appointment. Shaylen listened to Amanda’s story and worked to connect her with education as well as resources to meet her goals. During Amanda’s pregnancy Shaylen helped provide education on how to have a healthy baby, get ready for childbirth, get baby supplies and build her support network. Shaylen connected mom with respite care, where host families can help with transportation, childcare for doctor appointments, and housing. Initially they connected mom with a host family that assisted her with transportation.
After Amanda delivered, she cared for her baby on her own and bounced around from one living situation to another. Amanda said she needed more help and was not able to take care of her baby on her own. She really needed time to get on her feet, and she truly wanted to do what was best for her son. She wanted better for him than what she had experienced. When Amanda’s son was about 1o months old, she asked the host family to take her baby for one month so she could get her life together. Amanda grew a very strong bond with the host family during the time they cared for her little one. Through their help she obtained her high school diploma and a car.
Amanda had tried therapy in the past, but it did not go well. Through Shaylen’s persistence and regular mental health check-ins, she had finally agreed to therapy, a huge step in the right direction. Unfortunately, there was a waiting list, and she could not be seen immediately. But in the meantime, she had Shaylen to meet with on a regular basis. Shaylen worked with Amanda on creating healthy relationships and setting boundaries with toxic friends and family. Amanda was able to begin processing her feelings about her mom. She realized that while her mom may have loved her, her mom struggled with her own demons. Amanda has been able to see all the things she would like to do differently with her son.
Also, during all of this, Shaylen continued to work with Amanda on developmental milestones and positive parenting skills. Her baby scored well on developmental screens. During these developmental screens Shaylen asked questions about baby’s development in 5 areas- communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and social/emotional. Shaylen continues to monitor at regular intervals if baby is on track developmentally, or if he would need any additional services to make sure he is developing at an appropriate pace. Through discussions with Amanda, she has learned about normal developmental milestones, age-appropriate behavior, and how to build a stronger relationship with her child. As Amanda’s stress levels have gone down and she has strengthened her positive supports, she in turn has been able to connect with her baby on a different level.
Currently, Amanda and her baby are living with the host family, while she is waiting to move into her own apartment with her son in March. She is so excited to start creating a home and roots for her son. Shaylen connected her to Family of the Month, who will help her get supplies for her new apartment. Amanda is currently working full time and is training to be a manager. This is the first job Amanda has said she loves and is happy at. Recently, Amanda was accepted to WCTC in the fall to start the phlebotomy program.
Amanda values her time with Shaylen, and never misses an appointment. Shaylen has been her one consistent support through pregnancy and parenthood. Shaylen has really taken the time to build Amanda’s self-confidence and set realistic goals that she has achieved. Amanda felt she was failing her son by moving him around so much. Shaylen has taught Amanda to look ahead and plan to start celebrating her own traditions and create a loving home for her son. Amanda’s son is now 2 ½ years old, healthy, and enrolled in daycare. He has the consistency that Amanda always wished she had for herself. As a result of the relationship Shaylen has built with her, Amanda finally has hope.