A couple of weeks after I found out my husband and I were expecting our first child, we lost our health insurance. We were disappointed, as is to be expected. I had been excited about going forth with my prenatal check-ups with a doctor I had chosen for her directness, serious demeanor, and expertise.
Due to our sudden shift in income, we qualified for Medicaid, and I was eligible for WIC [Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children] benefits. When I first visited the WIC clinic, I was greeted by my caseworker. After filling out important paperwork, she went over my options for doctors and midwives. She spoke of each professional with respect and honesty. She shared with me the various options I could choose from. I was a little surprised that I had choices. Once I selected the professional I wanted to visit, my caseworker picked up the phone and made my first appointment. I wanted to open my arms and embrace her.
She then pulled out a pamphlet about the nutrition that I needed as a pregnant woman. She talked me through it and answered all of my questions. She then informed me of the WIC monthly vouchers. I would be able to receive foods with essential nutrients for my body and my baby. The assistance I received made me feel loved and important. It gave my husband and me more faith in our belief that everything was going to be alright. And that faith fed our determination to succeed.
When I looked around the WIC clinic, I saw that I was among a community of women that cared for each other. Different generations, complexions, languages, and experiences—all of us present to keep ourselves and our families healthy. We all believed in that, whether we were there to help or to receive help. We all believed that everyone has the right to live a healthy life, and that a healthy life begins during the period from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday—the crucial 1,000 days.
Amanda Bornfree, from Chicago, Illinois, is a strong advocate for WIC.
FACT: Although 81.3 percent of eligible infants are enrolled in WIC, the program reaches just 47.3 percent of eligible children ages one to four. (USDA, “WIC Eligibles and Coverage, 1994 to 2007: Estimates of the Population of Women, Infants and Children Eligible for WIC Benefits”, 2009.)