Jailhouse pregnancy: An inmate’s journey

June 8, 2014 12:00 a.m.  •  0 comments

When Cristina Salazar went into labor, she was let out of jail to have her baby. The little girl suffered from a lung infection and spent some time in neonatal care at Sacred Heart. Salazar was allowed to spend those days with her infant daughter, but then she had to report back to Kootenai County Jail. Now she’s finishing her sentence in southern Idaho while her mother and younger sister look after her baby. Salazar illustrates the stark reality of a jailhouse pregnancy and a young mother determined to turn her life around and be there for her child.

Related story: Going to term

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“It’s rough. I feel all big and huge,” Salazar said. “It’s not the best, but I mean, I just gotta tough it out. I imagine it wouldn’t be much more comfortable being out there, being this big.”


“I’m going to name her Nova,” said Salazar, 22, at the Kootenai County Jail in Coeur d’Alene on Feb. 25, 2014.

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Salazar is escorted through Kootenai County Jail by Deputy Stephen Webb, center, with Chaplain Larry Green on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014.

Kathy Plonka The Spokesman-Review Link

Salazar, front, stands in the lunch line on Thursday, Feb. 27 2014, at Kootenai County Jail in Coeur d’Alene.

Kathy Plonka The Spokesman-Review Link

“I have some really good friends in here,” Salazar said. “They definitely watch out for me and definitely care for me, that’s for sure. And the baby.”


“I talk to her every day,” said fellow inmate Tia Lunen, left, as she and Kaylee Peterson visit with Salazar while lining up for lunch at Kootenai County Jail on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2014.

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Salazar examines her lunch on Thursday, Feb. 27 2014, at the Kootenai County Jail. Because she’s pregnant, she gets extra milk with her meals, a prenatal vitamin and a snack before bedtime.

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“I was happy I could hear her cry,” Salazar said. “I was scared, though.”


Salazar shows a cell phone photo of her daughter, Nova, on March 3, 2014, at Kootenai Health. Nova was born with respiratory complications and was transported to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

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“I just don’t like seeing her sick like that,” Salazar said. “I just want her to be good, to be healthy.”


Salazar waits for word from doctors at Kootenai Health about her newborn daughter, Nova, on March 3, 2014.

Kathy Plonka The Spokesman-Review Link

“It hurts me, it really does,” Salazar said, thinking about missing the critical bonding time after birth. “But I just gotta change it and just be better for the future. Like I can’t do anything about it now, just change for her.”


Salazar visits with her mother, Elvia, and her daughter, Nova, over a video-phone system at the Kootenai County Jail on May 4, 2104. Elvia will care for her first grandchild while her daughter serves the remaining time of her sentence.

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Salazar looks at her daughter, Nova, over a video-phone system at Kootenai County Jail on May 4, 2104.

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“She’s beautiful, I can’t believe how big she is already,” said Salazar.


Nine-week-old Nova listens to her mother’s voice over the phone at Kootenai County Jail on May 4, 2014.

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“I want to be 100 percent for my daughter. I want to be thereā€¦.I can’t be doing this anymore, ‘cause if I continue then she’s not going to know me.”


Salazar adjusts the ring from her boyfriend at the Kootenai County Jail.

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