|“I would have gone nuts without Barbara’s information,” laughs Moraine Windham, pictured here with her daughter Elsa, 8 months old.|
When baby Elsa Windham, now 8 months old, was born, her mother Moraine was given the option to enroll in the Verde Valley Parenting Partnership, a free home visiting program for families with babies.
Through the program, she was told she would receive biweekly home visits from a Family Support Specialist, who would provide her with information, tips and tools to make sure Elsa was healthy, growing and learning; and connect her to any community resources she and her family might need.
For Moraine, it was an easy decision. "They asked if it was something I'd like to be involved in, and I said, 'Yeah! I need all the help I can get!'" she laughed. "I knew if I was armed with information, Elsa would be better off."
Moraine is originally from London, but has been living in Cottonwood for eight and a half years with her husband David. Elsa is their first child. David works in construction as a steel framer, and Moraine works as a glass artist from a studio in her home.
The family now receives regular home visits from Barbara, their Family Support Specialist. Moraine explains that the program has helped her feel supported and informed as a new parent.
When Elsa was a young infant, she had severe colic and cried very frequently. Moraine and David worked hard together to constantly calm baby Elsa, but they were frustrated, exhausted and concerned. They turned to Barbara for help.
Barbara suggested that since Moraine was breastfeeding, the problem could be caused by certain foods in Moraine's diet. Barbara connected Moraine to La Leche League, an organization that helps breastfeeding women. Together, Moraine, Barbara, and La Leche League identified foods Moraine should avoid, including chili, onions and beans. Soon, Elsa's colic was gone.
Moraine devotes herself to providing Elsa a rich learning environment. When Moraine reads a book for herself, she reads it aloud to Elsa.
By doing this, Moraine is developing Elsa's early language and literacy skills. Research shows that the number of words a child hears between the ages of birth to three years is directly correlated with their IQ later on. 90% of Elsa's brain will be developed by the time she reaches kindergarten. The experiences she has now are building a foundation for learning for a lifetime.
First-time motherhood is challenging for anyone, but Moraine explains that being from a different country, it can also feel lonely. "It's easy to feel alone because I didn't grow up here.
Being a new mom and not being able to do the things that I'm used to doing can be overwhelming," Moraine says.
Barbara, however, helps her feel at ease. "I could read a book about mothering, but having a person as nice as Barbara in front of you to answer your questions is different. The whole program is amazing. It just puts your mind at rest," she says.
Moraine intends to eventually write a book about her experiences with pregnancy and motherhood.
The Windham family will be able to remain enrolled in the Verde Valley Parenting Partnership until Elsa's 5th birthday. Through their participation in the Verde Valley Parenting Partnership, they are armed with the resources and information they need to face parenthood head on as Elsa grows up healthy and ready to succeed.
The Verde Valley Parenting Partnership is free and funded by First Things First, which partners with communities to make sure all young children are healthy and ready to succeed. To learn more about First Things First, please visit azftf.gov.