NFP giving first time mothers helping hand

NFP giving first time mothers helping hand
Kennethra and Kenterren leaving a doctor's appointment/ (Source: KFDA)
Kennethra and Kenterren leaving a doctor's appointment/ (Source: KFDA)
The Nurse Family Partnership Staff/ (Source: TTUHSC)
The Nurse Family Partnership Staff/ (Source: TTUHSC)
Kennethra Wallace
Kennethra Wallace
Aileen Soils
Aileen Soils

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Kennethra Wallace and Aileen Soils couldn't be more different.

Wallace is a single mother in her 30s, raising her son Kenterren and managing a local Pro Cuts. Solis, 18, is a high school senior raising her daughter, Adeline, with Adeline's father, Brayden Fauske.

Despite their obvious differences, the two women are facing motherhood with one thing in common: the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) Program.

The program came to Texas Tech University Health and Sciences Center 3 years ago and has been changing lives ever since.

115 women are currently enrolled in the service. Nurses visit their homes twice a month during the pregnancy stage and continue through the baby's second birthday. The program is only for first time mothers who receive help during the baby's first stressful moments.

NFP also opens the doors for new parents to communicate with each other about their differences in raising their child.

The program came to Potter and Randall Counties to combat high abuse and teenage pregnancy rates.

Supervisor Ruth Whitehead says the nurses act as both a teacher and supporter.

"What we're here to do as nurses is support, to kind of be like life coaches for a 2-year period in a young ladies life," Whitehead said. "Our hope is that we can just encourage and help that individual find their voice, to be able to find a way to help them reach their dreams. What we really want to do is just let them know that they can dream and that they can achieve success for themselves, their children, and for their family as a whole."

Wallace enrolled in the program after she was referred by a family member.

"I thought it would be an amazing thing for me, being that I was a first time mother, to just have the knowledge of the nurses and utilize the program for whatever benefits or resources I could," Wallace said.

The program wasn't just a learning tool for Wallace, but a confidant. When she saw her nurse walking down the driveway, Wallace would say, 'Thank God she's here.'

"Amen [to that]," Wallace smiled. "Every time she would come I would have 1,001 questions: 'Why is this happening?' 'I can't deal with this.' You know, I'm just crying out because I am an older first time mother and it is definitely a struggle from being single for such a long time to having a little baby, so yeah, definitely."

Solis was encouraged by her mother to enroll.

"My mom was really the one who found out about it, she thought it would be a good idea and I was up for it because I knew what it was like to be a mom from a daughter's perspective, but I didn't know exactly what it would be like [from a mom's perspective]," Solis said.

She says challenges from motherhood started during her junior year of school because she had to get ahead in her classes before going on maternity leave. Yet she says being in school and raising Adeline is proving to be more difficult.

While Solis's biggest fear is setting a positive example for her daughter at such a young age herself, Wallace's biggest fear was making it through her pregnancy.

"I didn't have any really big concerns with after pregnancy it was the whole pregnancy, just going full term, being that I'd never been pregnant before, and the issues of being pregnant," Wallace said. "Not knowing what to expect, the day to day routine of working, and just trying to adjust to those challenges."

Wallace says what got her over her fear was her nurse Julie. She took comfort in knowing she would be coming to her home frequently to assist in anyway she could.

"I love my nurse Julie," Wallace said. "She is so wonderful and she's such an amazing part of the program. I am glad that I had her as my nurse."

Solis is using the program like a course in school and sucking up all the information it provides, she feels the knowledge she's gained so far is the most helpful part of the program.

"Learning about the WIC program, getting into that, and just learning about the nutrition, and also developmental things like how important it is to read books and just talk to her," Solis said.

Solis says going through this program with her boyfriend has helped them raise their daughter, especially because they don't live together.

"We both get knowledge for the mom's and dad's side and what we can do help her development, and for use to grow as parents as well."

Since Wallace is raising her son alone, she says it was nice to have someone else she could lean on for support or answers.

"Your nurse was going to be there to connect you to the resources that you couldn't get yourself," Wallace said. "So I think that is one of the amazing things about the program because it helped me to actually rely on someone else to help me and not have to wait [or say] 'I just don't know, I can't do this by myself.'

"I could because I had the program, and I'm so appreciative."

Going through motherhood can be challenging and scary for a mother of any age and social stance.

Solis says if it wasn't for the support of her family and boyfriend, raising Adeline would be impossible.

"I honestly don't think I would be able to do it without my family's support and [Brayden's] support, because I've seen single moms, it's tough," Solis said. "Nurse Family Partnership has been there and Cindy (her nurse) especially. She's really encouraging, so I really like the program and I'm thankful for the all the support that I have."

With no one else to turn to or lean on, Wallace said it made motherhood a possibility for her.

"I love the program, I don't know what my life would have been without it, without the structure," Wallace said. "For me to be able to have that stress reliever or knowing if I had questions my nurse would be there for me to answer them."

Those interested in the program must be a first time parent, seek help before they are 28 weeks along, receive Medicaid or WIC, and live in Potter or Randall Counties.

Enrolling can be done by visit their website or calling the local office at 806-414-9989.

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