My name is Rachel, I am 19 years old in high school for the first time in about 3 and a half years and I am 27 weeks pregnant with my first child, a baby girl. I am preparing to be a single mother and to live honestly and completely independently for the first time in my life. I live at a pregnancy care centre called Michael House and I can credit this house and its amazing staff for how much my life has changed today.
My life before living here has been nothing less than chaotic. I was born to my mother, Sarah, at the young age of 17. My mom always said I was as healthy as could be, beautiful and full of promise. My dad at 21 was not so ready. So at the ripe old age of 8 months old, my parents had broken up, and my mom left the city. At the age of 5 I had lived in about 4 towns had a brother and sadly became aware of the physical abuse in our home, also becoming a victim myself shortly after.
Years later my mom was beaten to the point of hospitalization and my brother’s dad had fled. We were forced to move again. Barely scraping past grade 8 I was so tired of school and constantly moving. At this point my mom was hardly home and I was forced to take care of my brother, the household and cooking, as well as go to school. Frustrated and feeling like I wasn’t being heard, I quickly found a friend in using hard drugs and alcoholism to drown out the pain of my past and the pain of my mom not being there. This was my cry for help; I felt that my voice would never be heard so eventually I ran. Because of my age I was quickly put into CAS care. I was taken in as a foster child and quickly felt safe, at home, at peace and most importantly loved and wanted. On my 14th birthday I was removed from the home I was in and placed back into my mothers care for only a short 2 weeks only to be kicked out 4 days before Christmas. After many years of not speaking; I had my father come and pick me up to come to Guelph where I have been on and off since.
After moving home I attempted to keep my life straight and succeed in my school career but family conflicts caused me to bounce around and slip back into the same habits that I so feared.
Last year a short 9 days after my 19th birthday I took a home pregnancy test and it came back positive. After everything I have been through and all I have seen I can say this moment was the scariest moment in my life. I knew that something had to give. I needed to change. I was hysterical, frightened, homeless, and alone. Not wanting to see me on the street again my cousin reached out to the community and found Michael house. At first I was reluctant and scared. But after an intake I felt at ease and like this was the best choice for me. Since that day I have enrolled in school (I have gotten 10 out of the 16 credits I need so far!), graduated one parenting program, enrolled in many others, and am working with a staff here at the house to better handle my emotions and to cope with my past so my mistakes aren’t repeated. I now have a safe warm place to come home to with food in my stomach, I also have gotten medical and dental care that I have needed since I was a child and have made friends with young ladies that are going through struggles like me. I have support and people to call me beautiful on the worst days even when I feel ugly. I am very proud to say I am clean and sober and I will never turn back. If it weren’t for Michael House I honestly don’t know and fear for where I may have gone. They showed me that life is more than a struggle without reward, and that you don’t have to do it alone. And for that I am so very thankful.