A NEW LIFE: Jackie was able to start over as she embraced motherhood with her little Cleo. Photograph by Miranda Mayle Photography.
As part of our 1 Million for Mums campaign in 2020, we're sharing the stories of some of the mamas The Babes Project has walked alongside.
We began with Jackie, who stared down a tough past to build her daughter a beautiful future.
“I told him it was me or the drugs, and he ended up choosing the drug life – and I found out not long after that I was pregnant.”
It seemed like a nightmare scenario when Jackie discovered she was expecting in late 2018.
At 23, Jackie had used drugs and alcohol almost daily for eight years, trying to numb the pain of a traumatic childhood, and an adult life spiralling out of control.
“I knew I was doing really bad stuff, it had even gone to court but luckily charges were dropped and I was on a good behaviour bond,” she explains.
“I’d even had an overdose scare, I had to be resuscitated on a train.”
Although Jackie wanted to make changes, the traumatic death of her fiancé, and several toxic relationships, meant old habits were hard to kick.
“I’d tried before to get clean, but being pregnant made me go, that’s total quits now. And I haven’t touched drugs ever since.”
Choosing to have her little girl Cleo, and quitting drugs to do it, was by no means an easy decision – but Jackie is confident that her choice saved her life.
“I couldn’t have turned my life around for anything else, I couldn’t even do it for myself. I used to see drugs as comfort and solace, but nothing’s worth losing Cleo over. Everything is worth it for her.”
And the determined young mum is sure that she’s been lucky in her journey, especially being recommended to The Babes Project by her hospital.
“There was a massive waiting list, and when I first made contact in September, I wasn’t going to be able to get into the program until after January!”
“But then I got pushed through, and was in by November – and that made a huge difference dealing with so much emotional stuff.”
Dealing with her own anxiety, and violent outbursts from Cleo’s father, Jackie found peace and courage in the supportive atmosphere at Babes.
“For me, it was so important to learn that I’m not alone in this, there’s other women that do struggle and are making it work, and that I can build a support group around me,” she explains.
As Jackie shares her story with the Babes team, founder Helen holds little Cleo – who falls asleep as the interview progresses.
“That’s the thing about the support team – they’re always entertaining, and fun to be around,” Jackie laughs.
“The lunches were definitely something to look forward to for us - I have barely left the apartment apart from those!”
Throughout the pregnancy, the brave young mum even grew confidence enough to labour on her own, and said she’ll never forget the moment Cleo arrived.
“I just bawled my eyes out, she was finally here – my saviour!”
Jackie said her future looks bright, as returning to study clears the way for building a career.
“I’ve done levels one to three of my first aid so I can start being a dental assistant,” she says.
She’s also looking at pathways into police forensics, building on past experience embalming at a funeral home.
Jackie is still shocked at how motherhood, and the right support, has transformed her life.
“I’ve realised that everyone’s capable of being strong, everyone. I used to think everything was impossible, but nothing’s impossible now.”
Please give to our 1 Million for Mums campaign, and ensure Babes is there for women like Jackie, now and whenever they need us most.