My name is Alycia. I am 24 years old and this is my story. My own childhood was a difficult time. Things happened to me which I don’t want to talk about and I ended up in foster care from the age of 7 or 8. I had a lot of different carers because of my behaviour which they found difficult to manage, but eventually I was placed with a couple who I stayed with until I was 17. From the age of 17 I lived with friends, in temporary accommodation and at one time I lived in a car for a few weeks. I have a learning disability but still managed to find some work in a supermarket. They said I was too slow on the check out and in the deli, but I was good at counting the stock on the shelves.
I met my partner Matt two years ago. He has a learning disability and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). It was love at first sight but it wasn’t always easy. We became homeless before getting crisis accommodation with Hanover in Dandenong. I was surprised when I found out I was pregnant. Matt cried with happiness when I told him. I had a difficult pregnancy. It was good to start with, but became more difficult as my blood pressure was really high.
DHS child protection became involved while I was pregnant and told me about a program called Cradle to Kinder. It sounded OK as it would give me the support I needed to be a good mother and help me to heal with the struggles of being a mother. I met my Cradle to Kinder worker at Monash Medical Centre the day before I had James. I had been put into hospital with high blood pressure and had an emergency caesarean section as the doctors thought it would be safer if he was born, even though he was 7 weeks premature.
I got to know my Cradle to Kinder worker better over the next few weeks as she sometimes drove us to visit James in hospital, spent time with us and helped us to move into transitional housing before he came home. We have more than just a professional relationship. It is a bit more personal. We don’t always see eye to eye and it can be hard to hear that I need to make changes in some areas of my parenting. After our time together though, I do think about our conversations and the changes I can make to be a good mum. I am doing the best I can and know that I’m a good mum, even though I doubt it due to my depression.
The best part of the Cradle to Kinder program so far is having personalised support, the socialization of the groups, and having involvement with the QEC 5 day program which my worker referred me to. James is doing well. He’s a happy little baby and looks more like me than anything. One of the most gorgeous things about him is when he wakes up and gives me a big smile. I have good days and bad days with James, but I love being his mum. It’s something I could never have imagined happening to me.
My long term goal with Cradle to Kinder is to help me to build on my relationship with James.