“I Didn’t Know Where I’d Lay My Head”

By Kendra S.

I moved to D.C. after graduating from high school. I was searching for better opportunities and wanted more from life then I had. While I lived and worked in D.C. for three years, I also met a man and became pregnant. He promised to be by my side throughout the pregnancy.

But one day, when I was 27 weeks’ pregnant, he turned violent and threw something at me. My head was cut and my heart truly broken. I’d always dreamed I’d live happily ever after.

I got help right away at HBP

Fortunately, I immediately went to Healthy Babies Project and talked to the first person there.  The staff was incredibly supportive. Right away, the midwives at the Family Health and Birth Center gave me a checkup and found that the baby was fine. The staff explained my options. Together, we called the police who quickly came to take a report. Although the officer assured me that I would be placed in a home for victims, by the time we were finished it was too late – and HBP had closed. Instead, I walked to the home of a pregnant girl I’d met at HBP and stayed with her. 

It was a scary day, but it was not enough for me to change.  Two weeks later, I reunited with the baby’s father and returned to live with him. But the reunion was short-lived. He was violent a second time. I left and stayed with a friend until my daughter was born a couple of months later. 

The baby’s father came to the hospital. Things seemed good. I desperately wanted my happily-ever-after, so against the counsel of HBP, I returned with him to his parents.

Two weeks later, they evicted me.

Thrown out in the snow with a brand-new babysnow in the city

It was a cold, snowy night when I was forced to leave with my two-week-old daughter. I made our way to a friend’s home – a girl I’d met at HBP’s Teen Parent Empowerment Program (TPEP). She took me in and let us lay our heads down in her home that night.

But each day was a struggle. I didn’t know where we’d lay our heads at night. I did not tell the HBP staff what had happened, because I was ashamed of my choices.  During the day, I went to the agency to make phone calls from their housing list to try to find a place to stay. Each night, I’d stay at the home of a different friend.  

In the meantime, I continued to attend TPEP classes, focusing on becoming the mother I’ve always dreamed of being. I regret to say for weeks I did not take the advice of the HBP staff, but instead allowed myself to continue to be emotionally and physically abused.

But finally, I broke down. When I shared the complete story with HBP’s family support worker, she encouraged me to contact my family. I did – and they welcomed me home.

My happily-ever-after … finally

I have a different happily-ever-after than I thought I’d have – but it’s a happily-ever-after, nonetheless. My daughter and I have a roof over our heads.

I’m thankful to HBP and FHBC because they provide excellent care. The staff make me feel welcome and comfortable whenever I step foot in the door. I miss them. The agency offers resources and additional programs for new mothers. They helped me understand what I should and should not do for my baby.  The staff gave me guidance and inspiration to help me set and accomplish my goals during my pregnancy. 

I’ve spent enough time at the HBP office and in the TPEP class to know that more then half of the young women sleep in different places every night – even on buses. From experience I can tell you that being young and pregnant is hard enough. To not have a place to lay your head from one day to the next is even harder. HBP made it possible for me to find a solution for my situation. Others may not have a home to return to as I did. I pray that the agency continues to receive the support it needs to help young mothers like me.

Thank you, Healthy Babies Project, for being my family away from home! I love you and I miss you.

If you know a pregnant woman or expectant family who needs help, please refer them to HBP at (202) 396-2809.