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New Life leads to a New Life
, Courier Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 11:00 AM
Tina Lewis pauses to kiss her daughter, Katana, during an interview recently. Lewis found out she was pregnant after being drugged and raped in New Orleans. She said she decided to move back to Indiana because she knew she would be able to find help at Choices for Women, a women’s resource center in Madison. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchiefirstname.lastname@example.org)
Tina Lewis and her 7-month-old daughter, Katana, sit together in their apartment. Lewis credits her daughter with changing her once-reckless life with no foreseeable future to a life of hope for the future. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchieemail@example.com)
Tina Lewis doesn't remember the traumatic events of a night that changed her life forever.
She remembers going to the bar where she worked in New Orleans, and she remembers her drink. But she doesn't remember anything tasting odd or different, the person who slipped something into her drink or anything else about the night that led to her pregnancy.
Lewis, who was 20 at the time, had been reading a book based in New Orleans when she decided to visit the locations written about in the book. Living in Madison, she packed up a few things and a little money before making the trip to another state.
After arriving in New Orleans, Lewis found a job as a bartender. Even though she was too young to drink alcohol, the state allows anyone over the age of 18 to work in an place that serves it.
But one night someone spiked Lewis' drink with GHB - an odorless liquid drug.
Nine weeks later, Lewis found out she was pregnant.
Without any help in Louisiana, Lewis returned to Madison - and to the Choices for Women organization that had given her help during her first pregnancy a few years earlier.
"I was just walking around, and I didn't know where to turn," she said of her first experience with the organization.
Her first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.
She again turned to the center when she didn't feel like there was anyone else to help.
"I didn't know anything about being a parent," Lewis said. "I didn't think about abortion, but I did think about adoption for a few months."
Yet after some thought, Lewis made the choice to keep her daughter, who she named Katana.
It's been a life-changing experience, she said, but one of the best choices she's made.
With the help of the Choices for Women volunteers, Lewis learned how to connect with her unborn child during her pregnancy. She took birthing and parenting classes. She even talked with volunteers about religious belief systems.
"They've helped me see a lot of things different," she said.
Katana continues to help Lewis gain a whole new and different outlook on life. Before getting pregnant with her daughter, Lewis said she often made in-the-moment decisions - like her choice to move to Louisiana.
Now she's busy planning for her daughter's future.
Friends and other people told Lewis time after time that a baby is a full-time job. But she doesn't see it that way.
Her daughter is a full-time responsibility Lewis doesn't mind to have.
"It's everything I never thought it was going to be," she said.
Even though her pregnancy wasn't planned, some good still came from a traumatic event in Lewis' life.
"I think more people need to realize life isn't all it's cracked up to be," she said, yet people can more forward from life-changing experiences like she did.
In fact, Lewis believes she might not be alive today because of the choices she was making before her daughter came along.
"Babies are life-changing," Lewis said. "She saved my life."
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