Julie was eight weeks pregnant when she first came to the centre. A friend who she had met at the Family Resources Centre, while attending their Baby’s First Program, had referred Julie to our Earn While You Learn Program. Julie came with the expectation to gain some parenting skills, but what she felt she actually received was so much more….
At 26 years old, this would be Julie’s first pregnancy. Though she was overjoyed about the growing life inside, Julie’s circumstances were far from joyful. Julie was single, unemployed and struggling with anxiety. Worse, her home environment was a toxic nightmare. With everyone in constant conflict with each other, Julie often felt like a prisoner in her home. Adding to her misery were harassing texts from an emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend (the unborn baby’s father) who was also demanding Julie to have an abortion.
As Julie’s client advocate, it was clear that Julie was in a difficult place. Julie would merely step inside the centre when a floodgate of emotion would release. By the time Julie made it to the counselling room, she would completely come undone. Whether I decided to play an educational video for Julie was hit-and-miss, especially at the beginning. Quite often I would just stay with Julie for the entire hour and talk about her struggles. This was a critical step in helping Julie make sense of her present situation. Another critical step was helping Julie set goals so she could move forward and create a life she wanted for her and her baby. Moving forward, actually, was easy for Julie as she was fiercely determined to give her child the very best!
As time went on, Julie cried less and smiled more. She moved out of her mother’s home and into an apartment with a friend in a neighbouring town. It still was not ideal, but there was peace. This distance was healing for family relationships to the point each member could now be a support to Julie, instead of a hindrance. Julie also found and worked with a lawyer who helped her manage communications with her ex partner. She even found an exciting sewing job that she could do from home. Not only did it provide extra cash, the job helped Julie relax and be creative. Life was finally looking up for Julie.
On March 24 2016, Julie’s baby daughter, Jody, was born. Jody was healthy and beautiful, and Julie could not be happier! Julie continued to access the centre even after Jody’s birth, but visits became more and more sparse. Eventually they stopped coming at all. While we were a little sad to no longer see their shining faces, the fact our support was no longer needed was reason to celebrate!
When I reconnected with Julie several months later, I asked her to reflect back on her experiences at the centre. Julie confessed that she was shocked by the intensity of our programs. Our Earn While You Learn Program, according to Julie, “went on way longer than expected. And, I wasn’t just provided the information. I watched interesting videos and did homework every week that helped me really grasp it for later on… To be rewarded for my effort through free baby supplies was super amazing!” What Julie says came most as a surprise was the non-judgmental support she felt she received. “It didn’t seem to matter what mood I was in, I was listened to and cared for no matter what!”
While life has not always been easy for Julie, the path she has chosen has made life easier for her and her daughter. We wish Julie continued bravery and success for the future!
By: Heidi Wagg, Client Advocate