I am Ilene Loper. I live in 46235. I have worked formally and informally as a childcare provider and prenatal educator for over 20 years. I am passionate about babies in my community, and the rate at which they are dying is concerning to me. Between 2011 and 2015, 29 babies died in my zip code. One of those babies was my cousin. I would like to help families in my community care for their babies.
As a childcare provider in Minnesota I helped teach parent university classes to mothers. They learned how to be caring parents to their children, prepare meals and manage their money. They also learned homework tactics, hygiene tips, how to maintain a clean house, fill out job applications, and dress for success. Many of the mothers would come back and share their experiences. Hearing their successes made me feel good about the work I was doing.
This experience helped me to support my daughter during her pregnancy, and the delivery of my beautiful granddaughter. Unfortunately, there were complications during her delivery and my granddaughter had to stay at Riley’s Children Hospital for over a month in the NICU. I was committed to visiting my granddaughter every day at Riley’s Children Hospital. For me, that meant I had to take three buses to get to the hospital, it took me two hours one way. I made sure to stop at the library on the way to check out a book to read to my granddaughter. I never missed a day visiting her. I would read to her, and talk to her. My daughter, her husband, and I worried about the other babies in the NICU who died. We were concerned for those families. Every day I told my daughter to keep her faith, because that is part of having a healthy family.
Now my granddaughter is home with her mother and father. I can see my daughter and her husband are learning to become good parents. I hope to see this for other families in my neighborhood. I am encouraging you to help me advocate for community-based pregnancy education, prenatal care, and infant care for Hoosiers so we can prevent infant deaths.