Your support of Nurse-Family Partnership creates bright futures - not just for the babies born into the program, but for the moms too! Here is a story about one of our families:
Hers is a strong, clear voice with an energy that young people seem to have when their future is undeniably bright. To talk with Brady today, you’d never know it wasn’t always that way.
"I was in a low point," she confides. A low point just before she met the young man who would quickly become the father of her child. Her first marriage had ended in less than a year, due to domestic abuse. The divorce was followed by job loss, and the need to move in with her grandmother for a while. But Brady began to pull herself up.
“I got a new job waitressing and moved in with a colleague who introduced me to Sean,” she said. “I tell people that he and I shook hands and we were pregnant!” she laughs, in hindsight. But at the time, it wasn’t something to laugh about.
“We were doing…not great,” said Brady. The timing could not have been worse for starting a family, as the Great Recession had begun and job lay-offs were prevalent, especially in construction, where Sean worked. He had moved back in with his parents.
“We both had messed up personal lives,” said Brady. On top of that, neither one knew anything about babies, yet these almost strangers were going to soon become parents together.
Brady did know enough to seek out prenatal healthcare at a clinic in Shreveport, where a nurse referred her to Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP). “I thought it was an automatic that everyone signed up,” she remembers. “So I did.”
That was the start of her two-and-a-half year journey with two nurses who became her sounding boards, her support and her friends. Her first NFP nurse home visitor was Nancy, who helped her through her pregnancy and when her daughter was born.
July 15 marked six years since Ginevieve was born and was named after Brady’s grandmother, who was born on the same day 81 years earlier. She was perfect.
The young family, however, was struggling. “We didn’t know each other very well and I wasn’t very good about knowing how to talk our way to compromise,” said Brady. "I spent the time trying to fix everything, do everything. I think I changed all the diapers for the first two years."
Brady was feeling the stress of the relationship and baby. On top of that, she felt criticized. “A lot of what I heard when Ginevieve was very young was how I was doing everything wrong.”
What often kept her going was Nancy and Wendi, the nurse supervisor who took over when Nancy left her job mid-way through Brady’s time in the program.
“Nancy and Wendi were there to have an adult conversation with me and care about me,” said Brady. “I didn’t have any of that. No one else was telling me I was doing a good job, but to hear from an actual nurse, validating me…I felt like a success because of that.”
Give credit to Brady, says Wendi. “She was hungry for knowledge.”
The nurse-client mom relationship is a trusted one. Nurse-Family Partnership tries to keep the same nurse with a mom throughout the program, but it isn’t always possible because of moves and job changes. When Nancy left NFP, Wendi knew that there was a chance that Brady would not connect with her as the new nurse. “But she took it in stride and really welcomed me with open arms,” said Wendi. "I felt like after our very first visit, I had known her a long time.”
Wendi also knew that this young woman, who was dealing with instability in her relationship, her housing situation and her job, was someone who had a great deal of strength.
“I was enchanted by Brady,” said Wendi. “She was one of the very few moms that I’ve known who was still breastfeeding at 18 months. It told me she had a lot of perseverance and heart.”
Brady had learned from Nancy just how important breastfeeding is to a baby’s health and development, and Wendi reinforced that. Brady embraced that knowledge, breastfeeding Ginevieve past the age of two. Today she believes it has made a difference to both her child and herself.
“It’s one of my proudest things,” said Brady. “It is invaluable. Ginevieve is so smart. And we are so close, because breastfeeding is not only about breastfeeding, it’s about closeness.”
Ginevieve is now an artistic little girl who reads well and is ready to start second grade in the fall of 2014. She also was one of only two children in her kindergarten class who were invited to test for Louisiana’s Gateway accelerated program in first grade.
Her mom is understandably proud, and so is her former nurse, who recently saw both Brady and Ginevieve more “Ginevieve was thriving,” said Wendi. “Very smart; she had a big vocabulary. Not to mention that she is preciously cute!”
Wendi is also quick to compliment her former client, who is employed as a WIC breastfeeding peer counselor. “If ever there was a role model for breastfeeding moms, Brady has a market on that!”
It is a job she adores. “I love working with moms to give back what I was given,” said Brady
Does she see just a little bit of herself in some of the young women she now helps? “Absolutely,” Brady said. “Too many women don’t have support. I didn’t.” To pay it forward just a little more, she often refers her clients, when appropriate, to Nurse-Family Partnership.
Today, Brady and Sean are no longer a couple, but they continue to raise Ginevieve together. Despite their difficult start, Brady is quick to praise. "He is a great dad," she said. “We made it work; we raised our daughter together for six years.”
And, thanks in part to two strong role models, Brady found her own voice that seemed to be at risk of being lost in that early rush of pregnancy, relationship and motherhood. “Everyone needs support, and for me that was NFP.”
Brady has a child who is thriving; she has a meaningful job that she loves. And, she is earning her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Louisiana State University in Shreveport. She knows that NFP made a significant difference in her life, and she knows she now loves working with moms and babies herself.
As for her future? “Wherever the Lord puts me and wherever I'll be the most effective is where I'll go."
We are now about two months past Mother's Day, but since Nurse-Family Partnership believes that every day is Mother's Day we wanted to share with you a Washington Post blog post that was written just before Mother's Day. This story talks about some of NFP's little successes and big successes; like getting the pregnant mom's blood pressure down, having a full-term pregnancy, breastfeeding, bonding with the baby and more!
“From our visits and her desire to have a better life for herself and her baby, she’s making better choices,” says NFP nurse Gloria.
You can read the entire story at the following link:
The Washington Post
Helping first time moms in need: Nurse-Family Partnership
Your support of Nurse-Family Partnership has helped make both the big and little successes possible for these families and the more than 29,000 other families across the United States – thank you!
Have you ever thought about Mother's Day other than how you honor a mom in your life? Mother's Day is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May. In 2014, the holiday will be celebrated on May 11th. Some other interesting facts:
141 million Mother's Day cards are exchanged annually in the United States.
Consumers purchase an average of 2.8 Mother's Day cards each.
Approximately 65% of card sales occur five days prior to Mother's Day.
More people purchase fresh flowers and plants for Mother's Day than for any other holiday except Christmas/Hanukkah.
Mother's Day is definitely a time to show moms the importance they have played in our lives. At Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) we believe every day is Mother's Day. NFP is focused on supporting the new mom-to-be in being the best mom she can. We work with the moms to have a healthy pregnancy, raise a healthy, happy baby and to become economically self-sufficient - to be the best moms they can be.
One of our NFP nurses, Nicole, said, "We help a girl change into a woman and a mother. It's like a metamorphosis."
With your support and the amazing nurses and moms who are a part of Nurse-Family Partnership we are able to make an amazing impact in the lives of moms and their babies; Maria, a NFP client says, "I've become a mother, a true mother."
"There is a magic window during pregnancy... it's a time when the desire to be a good mother - and raise a healthy, happy child - creates motivation to overcome incredible obstacles including poverty, instability or abuse with the help of a well-trained nurse." (David Olds, Ph.D., Founder, Nurse-Family Partnership)
Nurse-Family Partnership’s first stated goal is improved pregnancy outcomes: healthier mothers who can deliver healthier babies.
Nurse-Family Partnership is a program of prenatal and infancy home visiting for low-income, first-time mothers and their families. The nurses begin visiting their clients as early in pregnancy as possible, helping the mother-to-be make informed choices for herself and her baby. Nurses and moms discuss a wide range of issues that affect prenatal health — from smoking cessation, to healthy diets, to information on how to access proper healthcare professionals. It’s this trusted, expert guidance that has been proven to lead to healthier pregnancies. Among the improvements in pregnancy outcomes that have been observed in the randomized, controlled trials of the program are:
Your support of Nurse-Family Partnership helps more moms in the United States to embrace this magic window of opportunity and improve both their lives and the lives of their children! Please read the attached story to get a first-hand account of the impact your support makes! Thank you!
Nurse-Family Partnership, along with your support, serves pregnant moms who are often seen as high-risk. Following is a story about how one high-risk new mom has overcome the odds to be a loving and caring mom with impressive aspirations:
It was hard enough for Jessika to learn that she was pregnant at age 20. What made it even harder: Few others seemed to have faith in her ability to be a good mother.
“Friends thought I wouldn’t be able to do it,” she recalls. “They doubted I could be a good mom. My family fully supported me, but they thought I was going to need a lot of help.”
The reason: Jessika was a recovering heroin addict. Though clean for three years leading up to her pregnancy, she was still in a methadone treatment program.
“Everyone still thought of me as a junkie,” Jessika says. “It hurt my self esteem a lot. But it kind of pushed me to show everyone that I could do it.”
Jessika went to the Berrien County Health Department in Benton Harbor, Michigan, to get a test confirming her pregnancy. While there, someone handed her a brochure for Berrien County’s Nurse-Family Partnership program. “It sounded like something that would help me,” Jessika says. “I didn’t have any experience with kids.”
Upon enrolling in the voluntary program, Jessika was paired with NFP Nurse Home Visitor Julie Sittig, a registered nurse with more than three decades of experience, the last five with NFP. Julie first visited Jessika when the young woman was 14 weeks pregnant, and Julie was immediately struck by Jessika’s determination.
“She was very engaging and well-spoken,” Julie recalls. “She expressed a desire right away to change her life. We hit it off, and I wanted to work with her — but I have to admit, I was worried her chances of success were slim.”
Julie felt this way for many reasons. Jessika was unemployed, and in addition to taking methadone she also smoked cigarettes. Making matters worse was Jessika’s tenuous relationship with the father of the baby, whom she moved in with after learning she was pregnant.
“I had been with him for three years, so it wasn’t some random guy,” Jessika says. “We tried to make it work, but he started cheating on me the minute I got pregnant. You can imagine what that did to my self esteem — the bigger I got, the more he cheated.”
“Jessika was looking for someone to help her through all this,” adds Julie. “She was missing that in her life.” It took Jessika a bit longer to realize it, though. After their first few visits together, the young mother-to-be briefly resisted seeing Julie again. “I almost wanted to stop, but my mom told me to keep doing it,” Jessika says. “After I had cancelled some visits, Julie said, ‘Give me a couple more appointments to change your mind’ — and I am so glad she did.”
From then on, it was full steam ahead for nurse home visitor and client. Jessika quickly reduced smoking and then quit altogether while pregnant. With Julie’s help, she applied for food stamps and other assistance programs, improved her diet, and began walking several times per week for exercise. Jessika also took a keen interestin prenatal health. “She realized all of it could have a potential impact on her baby,” Julie recalls. “She just changed everything — her baby and herself became the most important things in her life.”
Jessika soon realized how much Julie cared about her future, especially because of the young woman’s past.“[Julie] was so worried about the drugs,” Jessika says. “She was always giving me books and having me read them out loud while I was pregnant, and telling me to keep busy. She never came out and said it, but I could tellshe was worried about me relapsing. It was so nice to have someone who wanted me to stay clean.”
This strong bond with her NFP nurse also provided Jessika support during a physically difficult pregnancy. Jessika began having chronic vomiting spells — she now suspects it may have been due to the methadone — andfrequently visited the hospital to receive I.V.s of fluids to stay hydrated. Then, five weeks before her due date, Jessika went into labor quite suddenly and delivered a baby girl. She named her Lilliana, or Lilly for short.
Jessika’s past caught up with her once again. First, because the baby was born methadone-positive, the hospital was required to notify Child Protective Services (CPS). But thanks to the visible and active support of Julie and the methadone clinic, CPS officials closed their case quickly and Jessika never lost custody of Lilly.
“[Jessika] said she’d work with CPS to do whatever she could to be a good parent, and she has,” Julie says. “She is just awesome, and has made remarkable strides.”
Next, Jessika enlisted Julie’s support in helping her move out of the house she had been sharing with the baby’sfather. “He was verbally abusive, “Jessika says. “I know [Julie] wanted me to get out of there. She knew the environment at my parents’ house would be much better for Lilly, so I moved back home.”
Today, Lilly is nearly two, and 23-year-old Jessika will soon graduate from the NFP program. Her daughter is happy, healthy, and ahead of all her developmental milestones. Jessika recently got a job as a home health aide, and she is applying to college — she hopes to become a registered nurse herself someday. She donates time at her local church. Not only is she still clean; she’s also weaning off the methadone with the full support of the treatment clinic, her doctor, and Julie.
“I just want her to be happy,” Jessika says of her daughter. “I want to give her everything she wants. I never thought I wanted to be a mom, and I know it sounds cheesy, but it is so gratifying. When you teach them something and they learn it, it’s incredible. It’s rewarding to know that I taught her — that I did that.”
“Her high is her daughter now,” Julie says. “That’s how she stays focused on Lilliana’s future, and what she canbe to her child. She loves her daughter so much. I think she’s going to do well.”
Your support of Nurse-Family Partnership helps to make success stories like Jessika's possible. Thank you.
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