Updated: Feb 23
Heather met her husband, Corey, at the beginning of the pandemic. Corey brought two grown daughters into their blended family, and she admired his relationship with them, especially given the difficulties they had been through together. “I fell in love with him because of how he is a dad,” she says. “I knew that: A. He makes beautiful kids and B. He’d be a good dad.” Heather and Corey began trying for a baby, and quickly welcomed their daughter, Juniper, in February 2021. The family was introduced to Family Lifeline through Women, Infants and Children (WIC). They began partnering with Healthy Families Parent Educator, Aliyah.
Heather suffered from postpartum depression after Juniper was born, exacerbating the usual stresses of new parenthood. She was grateful to have Aliyah there for guidance and support. “It was really helpful to have that check-in with Aliyah to stay on track,” she says. “It was affirming to know that I was doing things well. I think that was really life-giving for a while.” Heather also met with a Family Lifeline clinical social worker, who encouraged her to seek out therapy and medication.
The first year after Juniper was born was tough on the family financially. “I work, I make money, I should be able to pay my bills. Unfortunately, the way the economy is, it’s not always quite that simple,” says Corey. As a Parent Educator, Aliyah connects families with resources in their community, and she helped the family access diapers, clothing, and food. “You don’t know what you don’t know, right? I don’t know about the resources out there until someone tells me about them,” Heather explains. “The fact that I’m connected makes me feel so grateful that I’m not alone.”
But asking for help isn’t easy. “I have to be so far down and out before I ask for help,” says Corey. “There are people worse off than me. Do I really deserve it?” That’s why Family Lifeline’s services are based in partnership, building upon family strengths and community resources so that families can build the life they want for themselves. “The approach you guys are taking versus the approach a lot of other organizations take is a lot more dignifying,” Corey says. “I like that when this program has helped us with diapers and stuff, I don’t feel like less of a person because I’m not able to do it on my own.” Heather adds: “You never know when you’re going to need help. I’ve been able to give throughout my life. This program has taught me to be good with receiving, to be part of the flow.”
After Aliyah was promoted to a new position within the organization, Heather began partnering with a new Parent Educator, Ashland. Both Aliyah and Ashland are also moms, and Heather says that their wisdom has been invaluable. They understand her challenges as a new mom, not just professionally but personally. Additionally, Aliyah and Ashland have helped the couple navigate parenthood together. “It saved our marriage,” Corey says. “Having someone there who is a third party is really helpful.”
Juniper is now 17 months old and is a happy and outgoing social butterfly. The family will continue to partner with Ashland, exploring new opportunities for healthy parent-child interaction at their weekly home visits. “Family Lifeline really has been a lifeline,” says Heather. “It has kept me grounded. It’s been affirming and validating of where I was at. I’m no expert. I’m still figuring things out. And it’s nice to know that my instinct is correct most of the time.”
Family Lifeline’s Growing Well programming is grounded in the principle that parents are their children’s first and most important teachers, advocates, and protectors. We empower and uplift, knowing that, given the right support and resources, all families have the ability to thrive.
Story from Family Lifeline's 2022 Impact Report