South Carolina's smaller, sleepy counties can be great places to grow up, but tough places to be born for low income babies:
“You sometimes cry, it's like I don't have a car, I don't have the resources,” says Clarice Culbreath, mother to a two, nearly three, month old.
Counties like Edgefield, McCormick, Abbeville, have the highest infant mortality and low birth weight rates in the state; nearly double the state averages. Those are tough odds.
“They're very highly stacked against them,” says Gail Monson of the Nurse-Family Partnership.
To cut those rates by half is a big deal, and that's what the nurse-family partnership does.
“I was like, this is going to help a lot,” Culbreath says.
Clarice Culbreath is a Nurse-Family client: She is 24 and has a better chance than most. Before baby, she had a job–one that she had to quit because of the danger during her pregnancy. She's engaged and reenrolled in school; still, it's scary.
“Sometimes just sit there and get silent, ‘Oh man what am I going to do”,'” she says.
But then she meant Edwina Austin.
“You become so comfortable with them like they're a friend,” she says of her nurse. “You can pick up and call or text whenever you need.”
Edwina asks her questions about little Ronnie and shows her how to play and how to care for him.
“You want to guide them, not tell them what to do,” she says.
So when you have little questions with big stakes, there is someone to call.
“They what they're doing and you have no idea what you're doing, it's very much a need that they're right there next to you,” Culbreath says.
The babies enrolled for Nurse-Family home visits, have twice the chance of being born at a healthy weight, and of growing up at all.
“If I can cause one mom to put their babies on their backs so their babies won't die of SIDS,” Austin says, “if I do one thing for these families, I feel like I've done something.”
Something that has the potential to last Ronnie a lifetime.