“I don’t see how I’m going to get through this. I don’t see how I’m going to be able to adequately be a mother”
This is what was going through Sandra’s mind after she and her husband found out she was pregnant for the fifth time. Already parenting her sons, then 16, 13, and 8, as well as her 7 year old daughter, Sandra’s pregnancy came as a surprise. Then, she found out she was pregnant with twins. Sandra recalls praying “Lord, I’m struggling with the kids I already have, and now I’m responsible for two more mouths?”
Sandra recalls that she never imagined she would face these challenges in life. Sandra had been born to a 14-year-old mother and 16-year-old father, both of whom “were not ready to take care of a baby”. Sandra lived with different relatives throughout her childhood, and set off on her own at age 17. By the time she was 22, she was parenting her two young sons, as well as caring for three of her younger siblings who were in foster care. Despite these early struggles, Sandra was determined to work hard and succeed. Sandra was the rock that her family leaned on. She worked as a banker for a number of years, and was highly successful at her job, consistently exceeding her goals and going above and beyond. “My goal at the bank was to get thirty new households a month, and I was getting 100 new households a month”, but Sandra recognized that there was no upward mobility or room for growth. She was overworked and stressed, taking on three times the workload without any additional support. Sandra knew that she had to earn more to continue to support her family, but knew that it wasn’t possible at her current job. Her husband was struggling with a drug addiction, out of the home, and wasn’t contributing financially to the family. At the same time, Sandra was struggling to make ends meet. “My income on paper was too high for any type of services, but I looked at my refrigerator and we didn’t have any food”. After paying all of her bills, Sandra couldn’t afford to buy food for her family out of pocket, but, because her income level was too high to qualify for services, she couldn’t use food stamps to feed her children. Sandra made the heartbreaking decision to quit her job, and recalls thinking “well, at least if I don’t have a job, I can at least get food stamps and make sure my kids can eat every night”.
Sandra took on a part time seasonal job, working for a local sports arena. It was a big change from sitting all day at the bank, and it was a difficult adjustment for Sandra. She describes being in a very dark place, struggling with her marriage and stressed out. “I was severely depressed and my diabetes was off the charts, I was really bad. I wasn’t happy with myself, I wasn’t happy with my weight, and I just wasn’t happy.” It was then that she found out she was pregnant with twins.
Sandra was at her wit’s end. She was doing everything she could to keep her head above water, but she was used to being the one that everyone turned to for advice. When Sandra’s husband suggested that she needed to talk to someone about what she was going through, Sandra didn’t know what to do. She was nervous that someone was going to judge her for her situation or that her children would be taken away. But Sandra knew that she needed help. She reached out to the resource specialist at her doctor’s office, and was referred to Good Shepherd’s Pregnancy & Parenting Support Program.
Sandra admits that she didn’t know what to do when she first met Angie, one of our Pregnancy & Parenting Support Program workers. Sandra recalls that the first thing that Angie did was just listen. After that, they started working on a plan together. They started meeting on a weekly basis, and every week, Angie brought two boxes of diapers with her, one for each baby that would soon be born. By the time the babies were born, Sandra had a fully stocked closet full of clothes and diapers for her babies.
At 35 weeks into Sandra’s pregnancy, her sons, Tommy and Theo, were born. They spent four weeks in the NICU, and every day, Sandra went to the hospital to breastfeed her sons. Angie and Sandra continued to work on her plan, especially with her employment goals. She had taken time off after her babies were born to recover, and but later worked another season at the stadium, part time. About six months after the twins were born, Sandra applied for a full time supervisor job at the airport, making more than twice as much as she had at the stadium. She and her family moved into a new house, which happens to be right across the street from Sandra’s best friend. Tommy and Theo, now healthy 8-month-old babies, are thriving.
Though Sandra’s journey has been tough, she takes time to reflect on the blessings along the way. She remembers the hard times, the nights of crying, of losing her car, of struggling during her pregnancy. “It’s funny, because sometimes you don’t know what God is trying to do and you don’t see what He’s doing until He’s actually doing it”. Sandra credits her trust in God for getting her through the rough times and “turning darks into lights”.
Sandra now recommends the Pregnancy & Parenting Program to young pregnant women that she knows, recommending a program that she can trust, with people like Angie that are there for her. Sandra recalls the days of calling programs that no longer existed, or had funding cut off, or that weren’t able to help her. She wants to be able to share how much Good Shepherd’s Pregnancy and Parenting Support Program with other women with unexpected or difficult pregnancies, because she knows how hard it can be. “I’m so grateful for Good Shepherd. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for this program”.