A Story from our Community Home Visitation Program: Katelyn

If there is one lesson that life teaches everyone, it’s that change is difficult.

For Katelyn, a 22-year-old mother of four, life has been a whirlwind of change. Katelyn’s ability to accept change and then adapt to it has helped her to build a beautiful, healthy family, but it hasn’t always been easy.

An essential part of Katelyn’s wellbeing during challenging times has been her willingness to ask for help. EveryStep’s Community Home Visitation program answered her call. 

In early 2018, Katelyn was recently married, had just moved into a new home, and was still adjusting to a growing family after she and her husband gained custody of his three children from a previous marriage. She was also preparing to give birth to the family’s newest member, Amado.   

As if giving birth for the first time wasn’t scary enough, Katelyn recalls the added stress of also juggling family issues on the phone. Sensing her distress, a nurse offered Katelyn assistance from the Community Home Visitation program, which she quickly accepted.

“I have no issues accepting help most of the time,” Katelyn said. “If you need it, you need it. And I needed it.”

Katelyn was soon assigned to Stephanie, a nurse who works in Maternal Child Health, one of the many programs offered by EveryStep. Stephanie visited Katelyn at home every couple of weeks to check in on both her and the baby and continued to do so until Amado is about 6 months old. Her primary focus was making sure that Amado was in good health and reaching his developmental benchmarks, but she also paid close attention to Katelyn’s needs and how she was adjusting to her new role. 

Stephanie’s guidance and help was a buoy for Katelyn when two weeks after Amado was born he came down with the flu and had to be hospitalized. 

“I just went downhill after that,” Katelyn recalls. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Stephanie visited Katelyn’s home twice that week, and after realizing Katelyn was having a difficult time coping with the situation, she suggested that she try another one of the Community Home Visitation services. Again, Katelyn was open to welcoming the program into her life, and was soon introduced to Laura. 

Laura visited Katelyn at home to offer personalized care, emotional support, and mechanisms for coping with postpartum depression and everyday stressors.

“She comes in and focuses mainly on me,” Katelyn said. “She’s like a therapist— someone I can really open up to and trust.”

Although Katelyn has been seeing a professional therapist for six years now, she feels that Laura is especially helpful and knowledgeable when it comes to her life as a new mother. She also feels like Laura can personally relate to her situation because they are both stepmothers and share a similar background.  

“She knows how crazy it can be,” Katelyn noted.

 Thinking back, Katelyn recalled the suddenness of her transition into motherhood.

 “I woke up, met my husband, he had kids, I accepted it. Right away. I didn’t have to accept it, but I did. And here we are, three years later,” she recounted.

Assuming the role of impromptu caretaker is not something that was new for Katelyn. As the oldest in a family of six, she has been helping to raise children almost her whole life. “My mother has been kind of obsolete at times, so it was my grandmother and grandpa who raised us. And my father hasn’t been in the picture either.”

Although she is experienced in adapting to tough transitions and challenging roles, it’s still not something you get used to.

“I’ve been tossed around a lot, ever since I was little. So changes— big changes— I’m used to. I don’t like change, no, but I was forced to have change,” she said.

But, looking down at her son, Katelyn has no doubt he was a happy change.

EveryStep’s programs have helped to make sure that Katelyn is given the tools she needs to enjoy the positive changes that are happening in her life. Her family is still blossoming, and she hopes to have one more child in the next year. She is pleased that someone saw she needed the extra boost that Stephanie and Laura were able to provide for her.

For other young mothers who might need a similar boost, Katelyn recommends the Community Home Visitation services and offers this advice: “Be honest on how you feel, because that’s how they’ll help you. If you feel like your symptoms make you a bad parent, it doesn’t. They know how to help you. They understand… they’ve seen it all.”

“Hang in there,” she said. “It gets better.”

This story is an edited excerpt of a piece written by Drake University student Maddi Cheek.