Jaimie Ruff blew a puff of air into daughter Makayla's face, and the 14-month old squealed with delight. Jaimie's all smiles, too, but admits being pregnant with her first child was a little nerve wracking.
"I didn't know where to turn at times with her," Jaimie said.
But then Jaimie was referred to Stork's Cradle. There, she found the support of program facilitator Danielle Huckins and a friend in fellow mom Sarah Abankwah.
Stork's Cradle is a program through the March of Dimes and Stormont-Vail Foundation. It's an incentive program to promote proper prenatal care, family education and healthy habits.
Huckins says the program is mostly moms who are expecting or who've given birth. She says they earn points by attending classes, going to prenatal appointments, not smoking, not drinking or doing a variety of activities to make them and their families healthy.
Points can be redeemed at the Stork's Closet. It's a room filled with diapers, toys, clothing, books, nursing pad and safety items for the home. Being able to trade for those needed items can be a big help.
Sarah says she's gotten diapers, wipes, clothes and some toys. She says it's especially helpful at Christmas time, so she can put something under the tree.
Jaimie agrees. She says, as a single mom, it's a way to stretch her dollars when she doesn't have much money to spend.
But even more than the items they may earn, the program is about happy, healthy babies. Sarah started attending the program when she was expecting now four-year old Olivia and returned for Sophia, now five and a half months. Jaimie's daughter Makayla is a healthy 14 month old.
Huckins says the parents feel a lot of pride in earning the points and knowing they're doing someting good for their family.
An estimated half-million women each year don't get proper prenatal care, putting their babies at greater risk for problems later on. Stork's Cradle encourages women to get that care, then provides continued support through baby's first years.
Jaimie, for one, is grateful.
"I don't think I could have done it without Stork's Cradle," she said.
Stork's Cradle is free and is open to any woman who thinks she could benefit from more prenatal education. It meets from 3:30 to 4:30 pm every Tuesday at Stormont-Vail's at the 4th floor Birthplace Education Center. To learn more, or if you'd like to donate to the program, call Health Connections at (785) 354-5225.