Baby Madyson glows with good health as she sits on mom Holly McKee’s lap in the NorthBay ABC (A Baby’s Coming) Clinic in Fairfield. Just 2 months old, she doesn’t know she inspired her mom to turn her life around at warp speed.
When Holly, 24, arrived at the ABC Clinic for prenatal care, she was homeless, using methamphetamines and smoking marijuana and tobacco. Her biggest fear was that her baby would be taken away from her.
“I needed help, but I was afraid to open up about my drug use,” Holly says. “As I came to my appointments I began to feel I was in a place where people not only cared about my baby, but for me too, and that I could trust them.”
At the clinic, she had regular checkups and attended prenatal classes, all provided at no charge. The ABC Clinic provides prenatal care for more than 600 low-income mothers each year. Holly received care from Ann Marie Ziomek, the clinic’s certified nurse midwife.
“The more comfortable I became with Ann Marie, the more I was able to open up and tell the truth about the changes I needed to make,” she says. “I was ashamed of myself and knew I had to tell on myself, no matter how hard it seemed.”
She finally discussed her addictions with Ann Marie, who suggested she and her boyfriend talk with Heidi Beck, the ABC Clinic’s counselor.
“Heidi helped me talk about the things I needed to change without judging me,” Holly says. “She also was there to help me and my boyfriend discuss any problems we were having with each other.”
Heidi referred her to the Solano County Substance Abuse Assessor who then referred her to Project Aurora in Vallejo, a substance abuse program that helps pregnant women become drug-free.
“I no longer felt alone in my battle and I got the help I needed to give myself and my baby a better and healthier chance at life,” Holly says.
She also completed the entire Prenatal Education Program taught by Kathie Thoming. “Through the classes I realized the harm I was doing to my baby and it really helped me to care more about myself and my unborn child,” Holly says. “So I changed, and once I did, I was able to see how easy it could be to change. If you want something badly enough, you can turn your life around and make it happen. I wanted my baby more than anything and I was determined to keep her.”
She credits the Baby’s First/ABC Program for helping to change her life. “The best thing that ever happened to me was getting pregnant and being a part of this program,” she says. “They never forced me to do anything. They gave me the loving care and support I needed to see I had options and that I could be the decision-maker of my life for the better. I will always be grateful that I had their help. All they really wanted to do was help me take my child home.”
She and her boyfriend and their baby now share an apartment in Vallejo. “My life has never been better than it is now and I’ve never been happier, thanks to the way they helped me to help myself.”