For four out of the nine months that Natasha was pregnant with her second child, she lived in a shelter for women who are victims of conjugal violence.
“During the pregnancy, it was very stressful,” she said.
Natasha gave birth in December 2018 and didn’t have access to a car to get from place to place. The Montreal weather coupled with the fact that she experienced complications during her pregnancy made this chapter of her life particularly difficult.
“Everything simple was so complicated,” she said. “Just to get milk, even. … I live alone.”
Natasha is a 29-year-old single mother and lives in government housing downtown with her two children. Every morning, she gets them ready, embarks on public transportation and drops her two-year-old daughter off at daycare. Then she purchases groceries, brings her son home and does some work around the house before picking her daughter up again.
Complications with her pregnancy aren’t the only thing that made this year challenging for Natasha — she has also been dealing with legal issues with the father of her children.
“He’s making problems with child custody,” she said. “He wants to pay less, he doesn’t want to pay for the period of time that he did not pay for — more than a year, and also for the divorce, he’s giving me a hard time.”
Natasha has few to turn to for help.
“The main help I get is by the social worker and other services for single moms,” she said, adding that her own mother is around, but is busy. “She already has two jobs, so she can’t really help me.”
Other than her mother, Natasha has a best friend to lean on, but she doesn’t have much experience with kids.
“She can’t really help me with that,” Natasha said.
This year, Natasha will be one of the thousands of Montrealers in need to receive a $125 cheque from the Montreal Gazette Christmas Fund. The fund helps make the holidays a little easier for those in tough situations.
Though Natasha doesn’t celebrate Christmas, she plans to use the money to purchase groceries or perhaps something for her children.
She also wanted to use this as an opportunity to share her experience.
“The first thought that came to my mind is just that there are a lot of women who are in my situation,” she said.