The Fix: Mothers and Babies in Crisis, a year later

Published: Dec. 31, 2019 at 10:10 PM EST
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A Bellows Falls woman celebrates a huge milestone and says she's ringing in 2020 with a potentially life-saving new year's resolution: to stay clean, stay in school and stay out of jail.

At this time last year, Miranda Sevene was locked up in federal custody at the women's prison in Burlington for having, using and selling drugs.

Miranda was on pretrial release when she broke the law. She did heroin last Christmas while she was almost nine months pregnant.

Reporter Celine McArthur: What went through your mind that day, knowing that you were nine months pregnant?

Miranda Sevene: I don't know. There's no excuse for doing that at all. It's just my escape to when I get stressed out and overloaded.

There are many more mothers out there struggling with addiction. Their stories aren't being told, and it's the spotlight that helps shed light on what they need to survive.

We followed Miranda's journey as she had a baby as a federal inmate and saw the raw emotional toll it takes to navigate a legal system.

"Two hours after birth, and I'm leaving my daughter in the hospital alone, with two guards," said Amy Rawling, Miranda's mom. "She had a beautiful 6-pound, 13-ounce baby girl, was 19-and-a-half-inches long. Her name is Elleana Grace Sevene. Everything about her is perfect. She's amazing, and I have to leave her here in this strange place, with nobody. Words can't explain the pain I'm feeling right now, that she must be feeling."

Miranda tries to explain that pain in a letter to the federal judge who ultimately gives her one more chance to get clean.

For Miranda, 25, every moment she spends with Ellie is a gift. 2019 has been a life-changing year for Miranda. She’s nearly halfway through her one year of court-mandated drug rehabilitation. She showed us her court binder, with the work she is doing with her federal probation.

At the Lund Treatment Facility in South Burlington, she raises her little girl while getting treatment.

“It’s nice to be able to parent my child," Miranda said.

Miranda wasn’t there for her first child, Braleigh. When she was born in the summer of 2015, Miranda was consumed by a life of using and dealing drugs.

"I wasn’t there for Braleigh’s first steps, so it’s important that I am there and present for all of Ellie’s firsts," Miranda says.

Miranda is also approaching another major milestone. In the spring of 2020, she will finish high school through Lund’s New Horizons Education Program. Along with that ceremony, Miranda’s hometown high school will recognize her accomplishments.

"I’m excited! I get to wear my cap and gown for both graduations, I get to walk. That was my choice; I wanted to walk. It was a big thing for me," she says.

Miranda wants to pursue a career where she can use this experience for good.

Miranda Sevene: I want to work with mothers that struggle with addiction. I want to go into social work first, and as a long-term goal would be drug and alcohol counseling.

Celine McArthur: Why is that important to you?

Miranda Sevene: Because it’s something that meant a lot to me, that has helped me a lot. It only works if you want it though.

Every once in awhile, Miranda reflects back on where she came from by watching the first story WCAX did.

“When I watched it, I cried," Miranda said. "I am totally in a different spot from there. It’s amazing the growth that I have noticed in myself."

Miranda says it's a good reminder of where she used to be and where she doesn't want to be.

With the support of her family and her new beau, Miranda says she’s ready for 2020.

“He’s cute, I like him, he’s a good guy," Miranda says. "He helps support my treatment and he helps with Ellisauna. He's not part of the other life. He never was. This is a whole new Miranda."