I will never forget the day I arrived at the Elinor Martin Residence for Mother & Child. I had less than twenty dollars in my pocket and was four months pregnant. I had no idea what I was walking into and fear ran all through me. The staff was really nice but I figured that’s how everyone is when they first meet you. It didn’t take me long to realize EMR had my best interest at heart when they immediately supported me with two of my goals – registering for college classes and finding employment. I was in school and working at the Salvation Army in no time. Things began going in the right direction on one end but on the other, I still didn’t know how to be a mother, change a diaper, or even make a bottle. The great part about EMR is that everyone in the house is a mother. There is always someone in the house available to teach you, whether it be one of the house mothers or a fellow resident. It didn’t take me long to get comfortable living at EMR. Everyone there became like my extended family. It all happened so fast and in no time I realized that I was doing everything that people told me I couldn’t or wouldn’t do.
While I was living at EMR during my pregnancy, doctors diagnosed my daughter with trisomy, a condition in which an extra copy of a chromosome is present, causing developmental abnormalities. Most fetuses with trisomy are miscarried during the first trimester and those who survive have Down syndrome. When I found out this news, I was heartbroken and ready to give up on myself and on my child. EMR, of course, didn’t let me do that. Between counseling, the staff, and the other residents in the house, I had so much love and support around me. What makes EMR different from other homes is that you have staff that care about you and the love is real. I remember one night EMR’s case manager, Diane, and I prayed, and from that day on, I gave all my issues to God. I began to believe that “it’s not over until God says it’s over,” something Diane would often say. On December 16, 2013, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named McKenzie Abigail Jackson. Not only was she gorgeous, but she was healthy and born without trisomy. Throughout it all, I never gave up. I had faith and believed in myself. If it weren’t for EMR, I don’t think I would have been able to do that.
My journey since leaving the Elinor Martin Residence for Mother & Child has been amazing and as time goes on, more and more blessings seem to pass my way. I am so thankful that God brought me to EMR. As scared as I was in the beginning, it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life. I believe EMR helped to mold me into the young lady that I am today. Living there, I learned self-respect and a lot about priorities. I know what it feels like to have someone give up on you and one thing I can say is that EMR never did. Since the very first day, they have supported me in everything and believed in me even when I stopped believing in myself. Here I stand, twenty years old, an amazing mother, a senior and soon to be class of 2016 college graduate! I am looking forward to pursuing my dream as a police officer within the next couple of years. To Michelle and the Elinor Martin Residence staff, I say thank you and I love you all from the bottom of my heart!
*Executive Director’s Note:
I want to take a moment to thank Haley for taking the time out of her very full schedule, to share her journey with us! To give our readers an accurate picture, Haley somehow managed to get her story completed, all while doing Statistics homework at 4 AM in the morning, working double shifts at her job on Saturdays, and, of course, being a mom! Thank you Haley! Much love!