The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


November 22, 2013

First-time moms have support system

TARBORO — Wide-eyed, 3-month-old Tristan Winstead babbled as he sat on his mother Jezreal Boyd’s lap in his Rocky Mount home Tuesday afternoon.

“He’s very active. He’s bossy. He’s a happy baby, though … He always makes me laugh,” Boyd said. “He doesn’t like quietness; he likes noise at all times.”

The baby grabbed objects that were placed in his hands and made noise nearly the whole time Boyd talked with Blair Creekmore, an RN with the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP). NFP is a federally funded program that offers support to first-time, low-income mothers.

“The fact that he keeps talking shows that you’ve been interacting with him. It shows you that he has that level of trust,” Creekmore told Boyd.

Creekmore visits Boyd’s home every other week to offer her information and resources and check on Winstead’s development. She began by weighing Winstead, who had gained two pounds since her last visit, and talked with Boyd about everything from reading with her baby to finding a seasonal/part-time job.

“We try to keep abreast on jobs and who’s hiring in the area, because a lot of these girls that are pregnant are trying to find something part-time to try to make ends meet,” Creekmore said. She said the main purpose of NFP is to help clients like Boyd meet their goals.

“She’ll tell me, ‘This is where I need to be. I’ll say, ‘Okay, what do you think you need to do to get there?’”

Boyd talked with Creekmore about her recent enrollment in the radiology program at Edgecombe Community College for fall 2014.

“I want to go back to school so I can provide for him better and give him a stable environment,” Boyd said. “It’s hard right now because I’m not working.”

Boyd is currently on WIC, food stamps and Medicaid. The baby’s father, Carlos Winstead, also provides financial support. Boyd sought out community resources while pregnant, including the Pregnancy Care Center, where she attended classes and received vouchers for a crib for her infant son.

“The Center is one of the places we refer clients to,” Creekmore said. “We’re a liaison between the client and the community services that are out there.”

Boyd shares the challenges and financial concerns of other first-time mothers, but at 27, she is older than the average mother in the NFP.

“The average age on the referrals is everything from 18 to 22,” Creekmore said. Originally, Boyd said she planned to wait until age 30 to have children.

At the time Boyd found out she was pregnant with her son, she was working as a waitress and had recently moved to Edgecombe County from Connecticut. She had no family close by, and decided to enroll in the NFP program in April.

“It helped me just to get my mind right, because I was a little confused before that and overwhelmed. The program helped calm my nerves,” Boyd said. “They helped me be prepared, because I thought I knew what I was doing, but I kinda didn’t.”

She said she would encourage first-time mothers to take advantage of NFP, because of the “personable” source of support it offers. Boyd regularly shares personal information with Creekmore, and leveled with her on Tuesday about not starting her exercise routine just yet and not getting a lot of sleep.

“It’s harder than it looks,” Boyd said. “I thought I’d get some down time, but he doesn’t like to sleep. I try to do everything when he’s napping, because he wants my attention when he’s awake. He wants me in his sight at all times.”

Boyd will have the support of NFP until her son is 2 years old. By that time, if all goes as planned, she will be well on her way to earning her degree in radiology, and be prepared to meet the challenges of motherhood again, if she decides to have another child.

“When she has the next baby, she already knows what to expect,” Creekmore said.

The NFP program expanded to northeastern North Carolina (Edgecombe, Halifax, Northampton and Hertford Counties) in August 2012. In the four-county region, 75 percent of first-time births are to mothers on Medicaid, compared to 49.1 percent in North Carolina.

Enrollment in the NFP program is free for mothers in their first pregnancy who are eligible for Medicaid (at 200 percent of the poverty level). Expectant mothers must enroll in the program through their county health department by their 28th week of pregnancy.


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