Evelyn Valladares had brought her sister to a community baby shower on Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club to show her the help that’s available for expectant mothers in Wichita, both before and after their babies are born.
Valladares had recently been through childbirth without the benefit of family help, and when she found out her sister was pregnant, “she was two months without seeing a doctor.”
Now the two sisters – Evelyn translating for Sandra, who can’t speak English – were sampling community resources at the shower sponsored by United Healthcare amid white cake, lemonade and blue-and-pink decorations.
“I didn’t have any help from my family, and I didn’t want to have him,” Evelyn Valladares said of her son, who was sleeping in a baby carrier, the brim of a ballcap tilted to one side of his head. “There were a lot of people who helped me a lot.”
At that instant, Valladares caught sight of one of them seated at a table across the room.
“This lady helped me so much,” she exclaimed, then directed her stroller and her sister over to registered nurse Debbie Entz, director of Choices Medical Clinic.
The clinic – which offers free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, medical and other consultations, and prenatal vitamins – was one of the organizations represented at the shower. Insurance provider United Healthcare throws such showers to show neighborhood residents the range of help available to them.
“It’s a creative, fun way of talking about the serious prenatal and postnatal care of our moms,” said Celia Ruiz, bilingual outreach specialist for United Healthcare. She noted that one attendee at a similar shower in Wyandotte County had never been to a shower before.
On Saturday, several expectant and new mothers made their way around the tables of organizations, from the Treehouse to FaithBuilders, entering drawings for gifts and picking up free bottles of baby wash and bags of diapers, as well as information worth a lot more, both in peace of mind and monetary value.
“Sometimes all they need to know is to know they’re not alone,” said Mika Hollingsworth, a volunteer for United Healthcare. But that crucial knowledge is also backed up with other support, from budgeting help and accompaniment to well-child visits by the county’s Healthy Babies program to reminders about prenatal appointments and gifts through United Healthcare’s Baby Steps online program.
“We stay with moms up until their babies are 2,” said Lydia Loveland of Healthy Babies.
“Everything’s free for these girls, so you can’t go wrong,” said Entz of Choices Medical Clinic, who said she had spent a lot of time working with Evelyn Valladares during her pregnancy and was now busy getting caught up with her.
“He turned 1 yesterday,” Valladares told Entz about her sleeping boy, Dominick.
“He’s so cute,” Entz said. “It’s great to see you. I was wondering how you were doing. I’ve prayed a lot for you.”
Valladares told Entz about her sister’s situation.
“She doesn’t have no family. I was by myself, too, so now I’m helping her.” Sandra doesn’t know whether she’s having a boy or a girl, though she thinks it’s a boy, Evelyn said, smiling. But her eyes filled with tears as she remembered how Entz had helped her before her own son was born.
“I’ve spent hours crying with her, telling her my story,” Valladeres said. “She did everything.”
Entz was now busy advising Sandra and hugging Evelyn.
“I love her,” Entz said. “I’m so glad she’s got that baby.”