If there was ever a day I wanted to go home... that was it. 5 days later when I went into the population and faced people I honestly did not fit in with - and had to walk to the chow hall through halls lined with men yelling horrible things at us and telling us to show them our private parts, I felt even more humiliated. That feeling was all the more overwhelming two weeks later when I found out I was pregnant with my first baby - and due before I was scheduled to be released.
I went to jail on a Friday and that first Sunday was Mother's Day. I spent my first Mother's Day behind bars, unaware that I was a mother. And although most would say that finding out you are pregnant while incarcerated for a year would be horrible, somehow, it gave me something to hope for... something to look forward to... something to dream about and live for.... something to love.
There just ain't a whole lotta love going around a jail. And maybe it was naïve, but I really needed love. If I couldn't get it, I needed to give it. I had to fight for everything there, from prenatal vitamins to my asthma medicine and to be allowed doctor visits. I swear I was constantly calling my lawyer... But somehow, as much as it irritated the other inmates because they would tell me I was going to have to go without, I always got what I needed...
The trips to the chow hall became even more difficult as my belly began to grow past the jumpsuit and they told me they didn't have a different size for me... I would walk into the chow hall and the awful smell would have me throwing up. The food was horrible. I asked to be allowed to stay in my bed while they went but they refused to let me and had me carry a trash bag to throw up in.
I was given work release and I worked at Dunkin Donuts (which is also really hard while nauseous!) and every time I either went to work, or had a visitor, I had to be stripped and searched. They had women do it, but the woman who always did it ironically was a girl I had sold drugs to in the past who was also a lesbian and had came onto me outside of jail. But now she was in charge.... imagine lifting your arms and spreading your cheeks for someone who had more than her job in mind. Horrifying.
One day a couple of months in, a girl signed out her razor to shave her legs... and 30 minutes later, the guard realized she wasn't in the shower. The bathroom door was busted in and there she was - this heroin addict who had no hope, on the floor covered in blood, her muscles on both arms completely exposed from her wrist to her elbows. After they carried her out, they told us to clean her blood. I refused. I layed on my cot and cried like a baby... no way was I going risk infecting my baby with anything she might have had. What were they going to do, lock me up?? The other girls started yelling things at me like "you're pregnant not disabled" and I didn't so much as budge. I just begged a God I didn't even know to help me survive this nightmare I was in and keep my baby safe along the way.
And there began my life as a Mama Bear.
When I was 5 months along, my lawyer brought a letter my doctor had written with concerns about my baby's health in front of the judge and he accepted his request to release me for the remainder of my pregnancy on house arrest. On July 17, 2002, I was let out the back of the building of the jail with all of my stuff in a big black trash bag that reeked of smoke that I threw over my shoulder and carried down the long road and up a big hill to where my mom was waiting for me. A guy I was using with before I left for rehab pulled up next to me and asked if I wanted a ride - he had just returned another friend from work release. I kept looking ahead and said through tears "No, I'm going home."
I know probably everyone who walks out of jail says they aren't going back, but I meant it. I was going home and I was going to stay there. And not just because I was on house arrest! I was a mom now and I was going to be good at it, even if all the odds were stacked against me. And I knew this to be true because the mom I was following behind was waiting there to meet me. She never left my side.
Desirae was 4 months old the first time I was free to leave the house with her without having permission. I thank God for how he used the hard in my life to bring me to a place where I would never use drugs again. A place where I had a little person I had to care for, who needed me, who removed all my desire for 'fun' (which was a notion anyway!) and gave me all the reason in the world to be better. I thank God for the fighter he put inside of me... for the strong will that drove my mom crazy when I was a child, but has helped me to endure so much and not break... for the way He pursued me and used whatever means necessary to get my attention and ultimately to draw me to himself. I thank God for making me a mother.
This journey of motherhood has been anything but easy. It hasn't been glamorous. It hasn't been perfect or gone as I've planned or how I hoped as a little girl. This journey of motherhood has made me dig deeper and surrender completely. It has made me admit how often I fail, how little I know, how much I can love, and how desperate and needy I am for God. It has made me smile, laugh, cry, and ache more than I ever knew anything could. Becoming a mother literally saved my life. Becoming a mother changed my world. Becoming a mother was all I ever wanted and more than I ever deserved.
And I would have had no way of knowing back then how complicated being a mom could be.... when your child is taken from you and you can't pour out the love on them that is exploding from your heart for them. When I went for Rachel's ultrasound, my biggest concern was what gender she would be and when I left, it had turned into meeting her alive, if only for one minute.
I know that my road with Desirae and the way having her led me to Christ was all part of God's plan to prepare me for Rachel. He knows everything that will ever happen and time is not to him what it is to us. I can't imagine having walked this road without Jesus by my side. I'm thankful I didn't have to. And as much as I want to puke reliving those memories from jail, especially being in my first trimester again right now as I do, I can honestly say I would endure all of that again if it was the only way to meet Jesus. And for me, I think it was.
We went to Rachel's grave today after church. Mother's Day is one of the days, like my birthday, where I *need* to stop at her grave. It hurts too much to have a day of mine not include her in some way. I bought her a pink plant (we got this kind last year and it bloomed through the fall! hoping for that again!) and the boys picked dandelions and lined them up on her stone. I took a picture with all 7 of my babies together - as close as we can be for now... and as I walked away, I signed I love you and said "I'm thankful I'm your mother."
I sit here writing and I look up to my wall... I can hardly believe that since that day in 2002, I have given birth to 6 amazing babies and have another on the way. It seems like so many at times and at other times, it feels like so few. But mostly when I look at them, I just can't believe I am their mother - and I'm so thankful that I am.
|I didn't dress the big boys, but they both ended up wearing Rachel shirts today!|
|her tulips bloomed for me today ♥|