Yesterday, when I walked into the POD of the Jail to teach the men's parenting class, one of the men was waiting patiently with a huge smile on his face...He had great news to share with us!
Let’s rewind about 7 months and move to another Jail we work with. This story involves the women's pregnancy class. We had a new, young woman in class, pregnant with her first baby, in jail for the first time. She was very excited and very nervous. She told us about the father of her baby, how supportive he was, and how in love they were. She also told us that unfortunately he was incarcerated as well in a different jail. Because on confidentiality, we could not tell her we go to that jail too and may meet him.
The next time we were teaching there we had a new young man in class who shared with us, with a slight smile, that his fiancé was pregnant with their child a different Jail.
As unfortunate as this situation was for the two of them, we saw this as a great opportunity to ensure their continued bonding with one another, and more importantly, with their baby. And although we could not disclose to either one of them that we actually did teach the other, it became clear that they exchanged this information with one another!
For many months we heard stories from each of them about letters that he had written to the baby, and about their future together! It was amazing and encouraging to all of us at Birth Behind Bars to see what was being learned in our classes actually utilized! We were observing a family in the making! She was always excited to tell us about letters that he had sent to the baby, and I will never forget the day that he shared with us how proud he was that they were having a baby girl!
As much as we were looking forward to being able to support this mother during the birth of her baby, we were even more excited to hear from her that she had been assigned to a Mother Baby Program and would have her baby there, and not have to leave her after 2 days in the hospital! She would get to breastfeed and bond with her baby with no lost time!
After she was sent to the program, the father, who still attends class every time we are there, was sure to keep us posted about her health and the status of her pregnancy. He shared with us that she talked about us regularly and was so grateful for all of the tools that we had given her during our time together. He thanked us regularly for having been so supportive of both of them and showing concern and interest in her even though she was no longer a part of our program. He promised that as soon as he knew anything, and he saw us, we would know.
Fast forward to yesterday...he was waiting for us so that he could share with us that their baby girl had been born on Sunday night. A healthy baby girl, a healthy Mommy, and a proud Daddy! He promised that he would bring pictures to the next class to share with us, and that he would send her our love and congratulations! I wished that I could have reached out and hugged him! Instead, I smiled and congratulated him on his support and love for his family.
This was amazing...seeing from all sides of the story the impact that our work has.