Both for the Observer Magazine, this was a short series of articles investigating motherhood in the justice system. Born Behind Bars featured shocking testimony of what it’s like to be pregnant on the inside, as well as the redemptive nature of mothering. Families Divided By The Care System featured women who had faced having their children permanently removed by the State. What’s it like to be judged an unfit mother?
I worked through my pregnancy. I was scrubbing skirting boards, cleaning bedrooms. One room had blood and human waste on the floor. I was eight months and I was on my hands and knees, heaving.
You're handcuffed the moment you leave the prison, and uncuffed in the hospital waiting room where all the other expectant mothers are there with their partners. It was embarrassing to be looked at, assumptions being made. I began to lose weight, so they planned to induce me two weeks before he was due. When I went in for a scan, they couldn't find his heartbeat. The placenta had come away. If I hadn't been scanned then, he would have died. They rushed me in, cut me open and got him out. I was in a lot of pain, and at the end of the pregnancy the scar from my first caesarean was rupturing.
In one case conference, I admitted I'd used drugs. They said, "We'll wipe the slate clean from now. If you use in the future we'll take the children." But a couple of days later they said the children were being removed from my care because I had used in the past.
I was allowed to see them once a week, but I had to be supervised at all times. The best thing about visits were the cuddles, the worst was leaving. You feel like part of yourself is lost.
Selection of Articles 2015/2016 for Refinery29
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