The beautiful Bri Caruthers and Titus (16 months).
Bri's pregnancy was unexpected and she wasn't with his father at the time. She was overwhelmed when she found out and more than anything was scared. She didn't have a job that could support them both at the time, was temporarily living with a friend and wasn't certain about the support from her community - her family and friends. Bri was about 20 weeks pregnant when it became apparent that she was about to become homeless.
She went to a pregnancy care center that helped her make phone calls and then she found a woman and children's shelter in Portland, Maine that she could go to in her third trimester. Bri was very sick throughout her pregnancy, throwing up every day and did not have the support of her sons father as she'd hoped. She finally got the call that a spot had opened up and the shelter would take her and so she made the drive. Bri came from a comfortable, conservative family and says her only exposure to homelessness were people panhandling on the street. It hadn't occurred to her that she was the face of homelessness, that was her, but here she was.
She dealt with a lot of guilt over her son being born homeless and not being excited about her early pregnancy but trusted she was in the place she needed to be. Three months after she'd entered the shelter, Bri gave birth to Titus just as she'd hoped. She had found her mothers Ina May Gaskin Guide to Childbirth when she was a teenager and knew from that point she was interested in birth. She felt moved to experience a natural birth and wanted to prove to herself she was strong and could do something like that. She delivered in hospital without medication or intervention and it was very wonderful experience. She's relived her birth over and over again and she needed that in the midst of her journey. Titus had an undiagnosed tongue tie they discovered at 1 month which led to some issues with her milk supply and made breastfeeding difficult but everything changed when she went to a breastfeeding support group.
When Titus was 6 months old, just five days before Christmas, he and Bri were finally able to leave the shelter. She is grateful for everyone who helped her along the way and the friends she made in the process and is currently working on her certification to become a birth doula to help other women herself. She's starting school in a couple of months and things are looking up.
Bri says that this experience screams of a brave and beautiful thing and she is ready to shout just that.