Written by Dani Branham, Clinic Nurse
Driving to work today, I heard a song on the radio that reminded me of the clients that we serve at The Next Door—“Somebody’s Daughter” by Tenille Towns. In this song, she reminds us all that we are valued, we have family, and there are always people in our corner rooting for us, regardless of who we are. No matter what is going on in your life, how you are feeling, what you have done, if you are homeless or you suffer from substance abuse, you are still a person. You are “somebody’s best friend,” “somebody’s sister,” or “somebody’s daughter.”
The lyrics to this song embody the environment at The Next Door. It is a safe place for women to come, despite their pasts, where they will always feel listened to and no one will judge them. I am a Clinic Nurse at TND, and I also work as a Labor and Delivery Nurse. One of the main things we see with obstetric substance abuse clients is that patients feel they are greatly mistreated or judged when coming to the hospital. This often causes women to not seek treatment or to stray away from health care providers because with so much already going on in their lives, they do not need one more person placing judgment on them.
In today’s society, it is so easy to be stereotypical, especially with clients in this population who are pregnant. It is easy to wonder why people do the things they do or why they cannot change. What we need to remember is that regardless of a patient’s decisions, she is human. She makes mistakes. She is someone’s best friend. She is someone’s sister. She is someone’s daughter. And now, she is going to be someone’s mother. She has an army of people surrounding her, and her recovery and sobriety mean as much to her as they do to the people rooting for her.
The Next Door accepts pregnant clients to be admitted up to 38 weeks. These clients are showered with love and support by TND staff to help them maintain sobriety. Clients who arrive at TND later in their pregnancy remain in treatment until they go into labor and return to treatment once they are medically stable after delivery. Returning to TND after giving birth is an emotional time for most women, because they are away from their new baby just days after delivering. A client’s choice to return to treatment following delivery exemplifies her first duty as a mother. Although she may miss the first few weeks, by staying in treatment, she is taking the first steps to be able to stay in her child’s life forever as a sober parent.
I had the pleasure of meeting a pregnant client when I first started at TND. When she first arrived in treatment, she went through the stages that most go through. She was in the midst of her withdrawals. She did not feel well and was anxious, irritable, and often stayed to herself. As the days went on, her personality slowly started to shine through. It was obvious that she was feeling better. She was cheerful and excited about her new baby. She had other children at home that she had felt she failed, but she was eager to take her life back and show them how much she was willing to change. Working at TND is inspiring because you hear traumatic stories from these women and watch them overcome obstacles and make huge strides in only 28 days or less.
I had contact with this client only a small number of times in a few days. Due to my schedule at the hospital, by the time I returned to work at TND, she was no longer a client. Whether she had completed the program or not, I was unsure. A few months later, on a shift in Labor and Delivery, the nurse I was getting report from had limited nice things to say about the patient she was handing off to me. The nurse stated that the patient just got out of treatment and that she and her family were unnecessarily rude. As I walked into the patient’s room, it took me a moment to realize I knew her from somewhere. As the night shift went on, I realized she was the client I had seen at TND.
I did not experience the same rudeness or disrespect that the previous nurse had. As we spoke throughout the night, she began to warm up to me. We spoke about her life, the people in it, her fears about labor, and her excitement for her future. Regardless of her past, we spoke about the endless possibilities she could have, and what she would be doing when she left the hospital. Never once did we talk about her substance abuse. Our connection from TND was not something that was discussed, and honestly, I don’t know if she even recognized me. Her baby was born that night, and I was lucky enough to be her nurse for her delivery. Working in labor and delivery is always rewarding, but it was incredible to see how far this patient had come. The joy in her eyes as she held her baby for the first time. Her accomplishments and pride shining through. It was emotional and raw and beautiful. Her delivery room was filled with her parents, her children, and her grandchildren, all ready to support her and cheer her on.
She was somebody’s daughter.