VA Maryland Health Care System
From Boots to Booties
One does not typically connect VA health care to women having babies, but times are changing! In fact, the VA Maryland Health Care System sponsored its inaugural baby shower, "Boots and Booties," at the Baltimore VA Medical Center. More than two dozen women Veterans and their families were on hand to "shower" the moms with appreciation for their service and small gifts to help them welcome and care for their new bundles of joy.
"What a fabulous event! VA has gone above and beyond, first coordinating all my care during my pregnancy and now this shower," says Inita Nesmith, who is excited to be a first time mom in her late-30s after having served more than 7 years in the U.S. Army. Nesmith, who served in Germany and Bosnia, moved to Maryland from New York to focus on raising a family. "The VA Maryland Health Care System has helped with that transition of going from soldier to mom. When I was in the military, I was all about the military, and now I'm a mom and I'm all about being a mom," she said.
Former U.S. Navy electrician's mate—Randee Baldwin—attended the shower with her newborn daughter and mother-in-law in tow. "Being an electrician's mate definitely prepared me to be a mom," Baldwin said with a smile. "When that alarm goes off in the middle of the night you have to get up and do your job. Now I'm getting up but for a baby," she said of her newborn, noting that Janita, a staff member in the Women Veterans Health Clinic helped her obtain a breast pump that was covered by the VA.
Although participants played typical baby shower games such as "Finish the Nursery Rhyme," "What's In Your Purse," and "Unscramble," they also listened to staff presentations on infant and child CPR, breastfeeding, children's safety, medication safety and hair loss during pregnancy.
"The VA has been fantastic," said Kathleen Wood, 36, who traveled from Annapolis to participate in the shower. For Wood, an Army Veteran who served as an ammo specialist, the VA Maryland Health Care System has helped her during a challenging pregnancy. She's due early in December.
"We want women Veterans to know we are here for them and we offer an array of services to support their needs," said Zelda McCormick, Women Veterans Program Manager for the VA Maryland Health Care System. "The baby shower offers a unique opportunity to educate women Veterans about the specialized women's services we offer, including Comprehensive Women's Health Services, Gynecology Services and Maternity Services, among others. We encourage all women who have served in the military to contact us to find out what services or benefits they may be eligible to receive," McCormick added.
Expectant and new moms received goodies in pink and blue VA Maryland Health Care System bags, each containing diapers, wipes, baby wash, lotion, powder, teething rings, bibs, undershirts, hats, socks, onesies, pacifiers, and hand-made crocheted burp cloths. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), The Baltimore County Delta Foundation, Inc., The Red Cross, and Wigs Plus donated the items for the bags, and the DAR also donated funds for a portion of the baby shower festivities.