It wasn’t until Diane was rushed to the hospital that she found out she was pregnant—and going into labor. “I was drinking and on drugs,” Diane said. “My water broke, but I didn’t know what it was. I was so scared. My blood pressure was off the charts. They told me I was having a baby. I had no idea.”
Diane had noticed some swelling and weight gain, but assumed something worse. “There was a girl who used to party with us. She got really swollen and was gained weight, and it turned out she had congestive heart failure. I thought I had that too. I was just too scared to find out.
“I’m diabetic and I was doing drugs. I knew I was gaining weight and blowing up, but I didn’t feel anything. I never thought it was a baby.”
After her son was born, Diane told the doctors she couldn’t keep him. “It was a big surprise,” said Diane, who already had a 5-year-old daughter. “I tested positive for drugs and so did the baby. They tried to place him with my family—my mom wanted to, but I told her no. My upbringing with her was not good. She basically wasn’t there. I felt like she wanted him to make up for her being so bad.”
But one day Diane received a copy of her Department of Children and Family Services report, which included photos of both her daughter and her son. “It was her picture and his picture—they were right next to each other. It was just like, ‘Oh my God. This is my son. He needs to be with me.’ I felt like I had to make it work. Something was going to work out.”
Diane was granted visits with her son, Andrew, and got custody back in May, a month after settling into the mission. He’s now 19 months. “I love it here,” she said. “The transition wasn’t hard because we had never had our own space. It was easy for my daughter. It’s something new, and with all the other kids, it kind of feels like camp. And everyone loves my Andrew—even the volunteers. He’s so popular, my son,” said Diane, laughing.
Diane is also in a much better place. “It turns out, I needed to seek help for mental health,” she said. “(The stress) was breaking me, and I got to the point where I was crying every day. I just couldn’t deal with it anymore.”
The staff at the mission helped Diane get into therapy. “I’m seeing a psychiatrist now,” she said. “They tell me I need to take care of me first so I can take care of my kids. The therapist said it’s like when you are on an airplane, you put your (oxygen) mask on first. That’s what I’m doing now.”
Next, Diane is headed to a transitional housing program in the valley, where she will continue to work on getting back on her feet. “I’m so glad the (staff at) the mission helped me to see that I needed to take care of myself. If not, I’d still be killing myself. Everyone is so helpful here. I can talk to them and even my daughter, they’ll talk to her too when she’s having her little moments. They are so great here.”