Elaine: I have a purpose

“It’s being compassionate with yourself.”

Elaine gave birth to Terry at age 17 after an unplanned, difficult pregnancy and frightening birth experience.

It was very traumatic for me to be pregnant—you can imagine. I’m Catholic. My family let me stay at home. Yet there was a lot of angst with the whole thing. I wasn’t physically sound. I had toxemia. This affected Terry’s health as well as the fact that she was taken out with forceps, which puts pressure on the brain. Terry had seizures afterwards and was in the hospital for a while. She was on phenobarbital and it was undetermined what her abilities would be.

Following a decision to keep her baby, Elaine married Terry’s father, and had two more children. Her husband’s alcoholism led to a separation when her children were ages one, three, and five and they divorced two years later.

Terry struggled with a learning disability during her school years. Then in her late teens, she attempted suicide. During the time surrounding Terry’s suicide attempt, she made poor decisions about how to spend money. She attended high school, worked part-time, and bought expensive clothes that she might wear once. Since Elaine wanted her daughter to learn to be responsible in managing her money, she asked Terry to move out of the family home. She provided financial help so Terry could rent an apartment close by. Elaine realized her own immaturity likely influenced her decision to ask Terry to move out. She was trying to do what she thought was best for Terry. They both had faced critical events at age 17a pregnancy for Elaine and a suicide attempt for Terry. Elaine reflected, “Unless you deal with things, all you’re doing is replicating past family patterns.”

More of the Story: Life Challenges for Terry