Blog

Moms

The outlines of a project I hope to continue, exploring the uncertain territory where motherhood, poverty and drugs intersect.

Pregnant women have not been immune to the rise in opiate addiction afflicting Ohio and other parts of the United States. 

Through the Pathways to a Healthy Pregnancy and the Maternal Opiate Medical Support programs, two dedicated nurses operating out of Ohio University's Community Health programs work a labor of love to support expectant mothers considered at risk due to substance abuse or other socioeconomic and medical conditions. 

Of the nurses' 147 clients in 2014-2015, more than 90 per cent achieved full term pregnancies

This is the first baby that Lydia Bateman has kept.

At 28 years old she has lost custody of three previous children due to substance abuse, the children adopted out. “I haven’t used since the day they took my daughter away,” says Lydia.

 Polydactyly is a rare congenital abnormality that causes extra fingers and toes.  Usually it’s benign and affects just one side of the body. But baby Ayden has the even rarer kind that affects both sides and is accompanied by kidney problems. His condition was detected while still in the womb. Part of the nurse's job has been to reassure mom Lydia Bateman she didn't cause her baby's condition and to help reduce the stigma of having a child with birth defects so that mother and child can bond successfully.

Polydactyly is a rare congenital abnormality that causes extra fingers and toes.

Usually it’s benign and affects just one side of the body. But baby Ayden has the even rarer kind that affects both sides and is accompanied by kidney problems. His condition was detected while still in the womb. Part of the nurse's job has been to reassure mom Lydia Bateman she didn't cause her baby's condition and to help reduce the stigma of having a child with birth defects so that mother and child can bond successfully.

"One of the great joys in this work is to be able to show clients, both in word and in deed, that their lives matter. Helping them recognize the importance of their own roles as pivotal parts of the family unit is an integral part of what we're doing."

Growing up in Ethiopia, nurse Stacy Lee remembers witnessing the suffering around her and thinking, "I’m going to change that." She never imagined she would end up working in Appalachia, helping women to overcome addiction in an effort to have healthy babies.

Many women choose to stop breastfeeding soon after birth.

Aside from the loss of health benefits for both mother and baby, formula is expensive. Subsidy programs only cover part of the cost, and many low-income families struggle to find the money for supplies in the last week or two of each month. Part of nurse Stacy Lee's job is to help moms like Lydia Bateman navigate those choices.

 Nurse Stacy Lee discusses housing options with Lexie Banks, mother of Josh and baby Cayden, at the Highlander Motel where the family is staying temporarily on Wednesday, October 21, 2015.

Nurse Stacy Lee discusses housing options with Lexie Banks, mother of Josh and baby Cayden, at the Highlander Motel where the family is staying temporarily on Wednesday, October 21, 2015.

The stress shows as great grandmother Joyce Brandeberry cries on the shoulder of nurse Stacy Lee on October 21, 2015.

Joyce has been homeless before and is currently living with her granddaughter, her teenage partner and their two sons since it's easier to find emergency housing for families than singles.

Having secured housing with the help of a caseworker, Lexie Banks and her two sons Josh and Cayden narrowly avoided homelessness. Stacy Lee has been encouraging Lexie to complete her high school education but, in their new townhouse in Nelsonville, Lexie spends much of her day in front of the television.

 Lexie's new partner and ad hoc dad to her boys, Dustin Hutchinson in the fading moments of daylight on October 22, 2015.   Accustomed to cramming into single hotel rooms, everyone crowds into the one upstairs bedroom. The electricity isn't yet connected and so it will be a dark night, but at least the space is theirs.

Lexie's new partner and ad hoc dad to her boys, Dustin Hutchinson in the fading moments of daylight on October 22, 2015. 

Accustomed to cramming into single hotel rooms, everyone crowds into the one upstairs bedroom. The electricity isn't yet connected and so it will be a dark night, but at least the space is theirs.

 Becky Kiser never expected to be preparing to have a baby — she had thought she was gay until she got involved with a boy and fell unexpectedly pregnant. She is no longer with the father of her baby but her brother Bobby has been helping out. They're twins and he says he's been getting sympathetic morning sickness.

Becky Kiser never expected to be preparing to have a baby — she had thought she was gay until she got involved with a boy and fell unexpectedly pregnant. She is no longer with the father of her baby but her brother Bobby has been helping out. They're twins and he says he's been getting sympathetic morning sickness.

The landscape surrounding Becky Kiser's trailer is heavily wooded and peaceful. Out her front window, Becky can look across and see her parents’ home where she grew up. At the time of this visit, there were 2 dogs living in the mobile home with Becky and a calico cat with a litter of 4-week-old kittens. Trailers are notoriously poorly insulated and as winter arrives in the hollow, it will get chilly.

As her pregnancy progresses, Becky experiences aches and pains. Everything hurts, including her feet.

Bobby Kiser removes bottle caps from the ceiling of his trailer in Carbondale, Ohio on November 11, 2015. He has moved out so that his twin sister Becky can have a better place than her camper to prepare for the birth of her child.