Baby's birth a mother's fresh start
By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK, Times Staff Writer
"I want her to be happy . . . to just live," Smith, 24, said Tuesday of her second child, Hernando County's first baby of 2002. "She's just special."
Smith shared similar dreams for herself.
After a year that found her at times homeless, jobless and alone, she had no grand plan, no huge ambition. She wanted only to find work, complete her education, create some stability for herself and her children.
"I want a better life -- that's all," Smith said, still resting in her Oak Hill Hospital bed just hours after delivering Quatasia by Caesarean section.
No friends or family members surrounded the mother and daughter. The only gifts beside the bed came from the hospital staff. A soap opera repeat blared away on the overhead television.
"I've struggled for the last nine months," Smith said. "That's for real."
Smith related how she left her other daughter, Kebreceia, to live in Pensacola with her mother so she could spend time as she pleased, without any ties to bind her.
When she got pregnant last spring, she and her boyfriend lived mostly in motel rooms, having given up an apartment for personal reasons. Soon after, the couple fell out, and Smith found herself without anywhere to go.
"I didn't have nowhere to stay, didn't have anything to eat," she said, running her thumb along Quatasia's tiny fingers. "I cried every day, and God looked out for me."
Pregnant 71/2 months, Smith found refuge with a cousin who provided a place to sleep and regular meals. Just weeks ago, Smith rented an apartment -- a goal she had before her baby was to be born.
"God blessed me. I got my own place," she said. "I'm not giving it up for no one else."
Smith was a little nervous, but mostly excited, about what the future holds for Quatasia, Kebreceia and herself.
In many ways, she viewed Jan. 1 more than just her daughter's birthday. Too, the new year offered a fresh start to this mom who desired something different in her small corner.
Perhaps she'll get her high school equivalency certificate, a first step along the path to her dream of becoming a nurse. The world Smith faces once she leaves the hospital later this week is filled with many possibilities.
"I'm still kind of struggling," she said. "I want to get well, get a job and take care of my kids."
Quatasia Smith was born at 11:04 a.m. Tuesday. She weighed 6 pounds 41/2 ounces, and was 18 inches long without her green knit cap and booties.
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