Natasha was in high school when she found out she was pregnant. She and her boyfriend, Nate, decided they would accept the challenges of parenting.
When Natasha enrolled in Susquehanna Home Care and Hospice’s Nurse Family Partnership program, she was 17 years old and 25 weeks gestation.
Nurse Family Partnership assists first-time, low-income mothers by providing maternal-child education, enabling a healthy pregnancy and increasing the bond between mother, father and baby. The program also helps first-time, low-income mothers continue on a positive life course by encouraging them to remain in an educational program or gain employment. NFP home visitors visit these families from the time that the woman first discovers that she is pregnant until the child is two years old.
“A soft-spoken, shy teenager was my first impression of Natasha,” said Anne Rhoads, Natasha’s NFP nurse. “During her pregnancy, we discussed healthy lifestyle choices and preparation of labor and delivery.”
Initially, Natasha wasn’t particularly interested in academics, but she did and continues to participate in the ELECT program (Education Leading to Employment and Career Training), offered by Susquehanna Health. The Reproductive Health Center provides support for pregnant and parenting teens in Lycoming County to stay in school and graduate. Support involves case management of the student, including parenting, child development and prevention of a second pregnancy.
“Several weeks after we started meeting, Natasha started to show a renewed interest in her courses at school with improved grades,” Anne said. “She is currently attending Cyber School and plans to receive her diploma next year.”
Upon graduation, Natasha said she hopes to attend college to pursue a career as an audiologist.
“My son, Mathias, gives me the desire to be the best I can be,” Natasha said.
Mathias, who will soon celebrate his first birthday, was born with microtia, a condition in which the external ear is underdeveloped. This required frequent visits to specialists in Pittsburgh and Danville.
According to Anne, Natasha was determined to breastfeed and when Mathias was unable to latch due to a lip anomaly, she persevered by pumping and seeking ways to continue providing breastmilk to her son.
“I interacted with the physicians, asking questions and educating myself on what was best for him,” Natasha said. “When Mathias got his Baja band, which is a little person’s hearing aid, a whole new world opened up for him.”
Unfortunately, said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director, not a single child enters this world with a control over the circumstances that await them.
“Fortunately, when difficult circumstances exist, United Way’s collaboration with Nurse Family Partnership is providing first-time, low-income mothers with the help they need to enable a healthy pregnancy and increasing the bond between mother, father and baby,” he said. “That is a head start everyone can embrace.”
Lycoming County United Way is proud to provide $40,000 to the Nurse Family Partnership program. But we cannot do it without you. Help us continue support by making a contribution today. Call Lycoming County United Way at 323-9448 or visit www.development.lcuw.org.