Small Steps

VNA's partnership program for new parents making strides

Danie Harrelson

Mandy Mourglia knows she will eventually need to start thinking about getting locks for the cabinets and plugs to cover electric outlets.

For now, her 4-month-old son, Gavin, plays contently with the assortment of mirrors and toys that hang from an overhead bar but his blue eyes wander occasionally around the room.

The soft Winnie the Pooh blanket beneath him will only hold him for so long.

“Before you know it, he’ll be taking off,” said Wanda Ely, the registered nurse who visits Mourglia and her child every other week to check up on their health and Gavin’s growth.

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association sponsors Ely’s house calls to Mourglia and 15 other women in Routt and Jackson counties as part of its nurse-family partnership program.

A second registered nurse, Ann Irvin, makes house calls to women and their infants in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties.

The visitation program targets first-time parents from their pregnancy until their child’s second birthday.

Mourglia enrolled in the program last June in the 24th week of her pregnancy.

Her son was the first child born into the program but many healthy birth outcomes have since followed Mourglia’s healthy delivery.

“We have had a very high success rate with normal birth weight and full-term babies,” said Marilyn Bouldin, director of the nurse-family partnership.

The VNA intends to eventually partner with 50 families.

As the number of women enrolled in the program draws closer to that mark, Bouldin said, the challenge lies in determining how to best spread them out between two nurses.

“We’re tying to see how we can balance what is feasible with what is needed,” she said.

Ely’s house calls easily put more than 1,000 miles on her vehicle every month.

But every visit, Ely said, brings her closer to the women who look to her for advice on raising and caring for their infants.

“It’s neat to see how each of the families has grown and how they do things differently, and that there’s no one way to raise a baby,” she said.

Mandy Mourglia and her husband, Todd, are no exception.

Mourglia said she has learned to read her son’s cues for hunger, sleepiness and attention.

Gavin now sleeps through the night, eats more solid food like rice cereal, and tends to drool.

It’s a tendency that usually demands a change of clothes, Mourglia added.

During Ely’s visit, Gavin amused the nurse with his busyness.

He rolled from his stomach to his back and reached for objects placed within his line of vision.

“Everything is so new, and he’s learning to grab and pull things toward him,” Ely said. “And everything goes in the mouth.”

Clifford the Red Dog, Gavin’s favorite toy since he could first recognize objects, finds its way into the infant’s mouth.

Mourglia often uses the much-drooled-on stuffed animal to get her son’s attention.

Baby Gavin stretches out his neck as he attempts to grab Clifford a habit that Todd Mourglia said makes his son look like a turtle.

Father and son discovered what could become a favorite pastime football.

Gavin often sits on his dad’s lap and attentively watches a game on the television with him, Mandy Mourglia said.

He recognizes each parent and sometimes demonstrates a preference for one or the other, she said.

“He knows who he wants,” Mourglia said.

Infants react differently to mothers and fathers, Ely said, but it’s important they feel secure with either parent.

Even when his mother lays him down in his crib, she is never far away.

As Gavin grows, he will move to vegetables and fruits, discover crawling and show improved motor skills.

It’s a progression that will continue to amaze his first-time parents and encourage his nurse.

“He’s just growing so quickly,” Mourglia said.

The nurse-family partnership, Ely said, aims to help parents with the transition from a lifestyle without the responsibilities of children to a new environment in which a new life requires their full attention.

“It’s learning how they can better adjust to a new little person in the house,” Ely said. “It’s learning how their lives change with that baby.”

To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4208

or e-mail

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