For 15 years, Lupe Garcia has served as a Maternal-Child Health Coordinator at MOMS Orange County where she teaches women to have healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. She is also considered the staff expert on child development. In August 2016, Lupe delivered her first child, Sophia Grace. We wondered how experiencing motherhood herself may have changed her outlook in her role as a home visitor.
Time. “I am now even more grateful for our clients because they make the time for us. Even though the home visit is only once per month, and we may think it shouldn’t be difficult for a client to find one hour of time for the home visit, but with a baby, it becomes more challenging to create that time. The mom wants to tidy up the house prior to our visit, she has to work around the baby’s sleep schedule, she may have a toddler at home or a child to bring to school, etc. Having my own baby now, this makes you more appreciative of the time these mothers make for my visit.
Nutrition. “Part of our education as home visitors is teaching about nutrition and proper weight gain during pregnancy. When I was pregnant I was not supposed to gain more than 15 pounds. So when I was conducting home visits and teaching about nutrition, I would show the mothers my little zip-loc baggies with healthy snacks because I was trying to eat healthy. I had to practice what I preached. I tell them, ‘this is not just for your health, but for your baby’s health. This is your chance to make a life-long difference in their health.’ During pregnancy, they are very motivated to make healthy changes in their lives.
Patience. “When I was pregnant with Sophia, I planned to enroll in MOMS Orange County’s Childbirth Preparation Classes myself. I attended the class when I was 36 weeks pregnant thinking that I would have the next four weeks during maternity leave to attend more classes and fully benefit from these programs. But then my baby arrived early, at 37 weeks, so I only was able to attend one class. Then, we came home from the hospital and had a plumbing emergency in our home which completely changed my plans that first month. So I have a new level of compassion and patience now, understanding that our clients also encounter many difficult and unplanned challenges when at home with a new baby.
“Even for someone with my training and background (as a developmental specialist and home visitor), I still encounter a lot of questions as a brand new mom taking care of my own baby. Yet now I am able to share my own experiences with clients as I teach them about having a healthy pregnancy and taking care of their baby.”