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FARMINGTON — Both Demetria Scott and Stephan Trujillo were in their early 20s when they learned they would become parents.

“I think I was scared more than anything else,” recalled Scott, 20, who was in her first semester of cosmetology school at San Juan College when she became pregnant.

As busy and stressed parents-to-be, the couple signed up for the Northwest New Mexico First Born program. The Farmington-based program provides first-time parents support and information during the pregnancy and after the child is born. Parents are connected with a home visitor who supports them and is on-call to answer questions.

In August, the program appointed Su Hodgman as its new executive director. Since then, she has worked to arrange these meetings between parents and home visitors.

She is also working to raise awareness about the opportunities the program offers to encourage more first-time parents to join.

While many people rely on their own parents for advice on raising a child, changes in parenting philosophy and new research about best practices for child raising can leave a gap in grandparents’ knowledge, Hodgman said.

Even people like Joni Lattin, who has worked in child care for years, said the program provided helpful information. Until last year, the 39-year-old had given up one having children.

“I had been told that it would be almost impossible for me to become pregnant,” she said.

But last October, she went to the doctor thinking she had appendicitis and learned she as pregnant.

Although she has worked with children for 16 years, Lattin said she felt she needed more resources and information to raise her own child. She contacted Northwest New Mexico First Born after being referred by another program.

Through the resources provided by the program and other similar ones, Lattin and her boyfriend drafted a birth plan.

Even after her son, James Young, was born, Lattin continued to use Northwest New Mexico First Born resources, like calling her home visitor with questions about child development.

While some parents like Lattin stay with the program consistently, others use it off and on.

Scott and Trujillo dropped out in January because of scheduling issues. Scott said she was meeting her home visitor at the college often without Trujillo, 22.

“We were both doing it together,  and I didn’t want to leave him out,” she said.

But after their daughter, Denise, was born in late May, the couple got involved in the program once again.

Scott said she wanted advice about caring for her daughter. Most of what she knew about raising a child came from experience babysitting, and although Trujillo grew up in a large family, his father had an “old school” outlook on parenting.

“The mother would take care of the children,” Trujillo said, explaining that he wanted to be more involved in the parenting process.

Through the program, Scott and Trujillo learned activities they could do with Denise.

“I think I enjoy reading to her,” Scott said. “She likes to sing.”

When Scott sings her daughter lullabies, Denise often starts chattering. But the baby calms down when her parents read to her.

“I think it would be really great if a lot of families were in First Born,” Scott said. “I think it would help a lot.”

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

A closer look

History: The first New Mexico First Born program started in 1997 in Grants. It provides free services for first-time parents from all walks of life.  

Eligibility: The Northwest New Mexico First Born Program is offered to women who are pregnant for the first time and families who are expecting their first child. Parents may enroll in the program at any time during the pregnancy or when the child is born. The program supports the families until the child is 3 years old.

Services: Northwest New Mexico First Born provides home visits to prepare parents for raising their child. A nurse postpartum home visit is offered to all families, including those who adopt their first child. During home visits, families learn about the physical and emotional changes during pregnancy, what to expect during labor, how to encourage infant growth and development, how to nurture positive relationships, breastfeeding, how to create safe and stimulating environments, how to select toys and books that teach, what resources are available in the community, how to solve family challenges and what options they have for continuing their education and on-going learning.

Home visits: The program connects families to home visitors who get to know the parents and child. The visitor listens to the parents as they describe their hopes and dreams for their child. The home visitor also helps prepare an individualized plan. Visits are arranged based on the family's schedule, usually at weekly intervals. The family is also provided with a core curriculum and educational materials. 

Enroll: Contact Northwest New Mexico First Born at 505-325-9187 or visit the office at 108 N. Behrend Ave., Suite H, in Farmington

By the numbers

21,545: Face-to-face home visits performed by First Born employees in New Mexico in 2014

1,360: New Mexico families who received First Born Program services in 2014.

27: Percentage of New Mexico parents who received First Born Program services in 2014 while they were teenagers.

53: Percentage of the teen primary caregivers in the First Born Program of New Mexico who are completing their high school education

15: New Mexico counties that have First Born programs. These counties include San Juan, McKinley and Rio Arriba counties.

Source: firstbornprogram.org

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