Family Connects Portraits: The Scheckter-Soliah Family

A man, woman, toddler and infant taking a walk

After the birth of their first daughter in 2014 in Durham, NC, Rachel Scheckter and James Soliah were introduced to Family Connects by an outreach coordinator during Rachel’s hospital stay. They both thought it sounded like a great idea. Living far away from their families brought anxiety – Rachel and James knew they’d be on their own when they took baby Eleanor home. Because James got no parental leave, Rachel feared she’d become isolated, trapped at home during the coldest weeks of winter. They looked forward to the visit from the Family Connects nurse, who arrived about three weeks later.

“By the time I became a parent, I had experience working as a doula, had a Master’s degree in maternal and child health, and was a certified lactation consultant,” Rachel said, “Even with all that knowledge and experience, there were things about becoming a parent that I wasn’t prepared for.”

While the idea of a home visit may at first seem uncomfortable or even overwhelming at a time when new parents are already juggling so many things, Rachel says the visit actually made her feel less overwhelmed. A visit to her own home meant that Rachel didn’t have to worry about bundling-up the baby or driving on icy roads to try and make an appointment time. It didn’t matter if the baby was asleep or if Rachel was in pajamas when the nurse arrived. This was a relief.

The health check on baby Eleanor was also a relief because she’d been born very small and Rachel was working through breastfeeding challenges. The Family Connects nurse was able to spend time understanding what Rachel’s family needed in terms of support. She listened and didn’t make assumptions.

“When a baby is born, it’s really not just the baby that’s born,” Rachel said, “A new mom and a new family are born, too, and they need an equal amount of support to grow and thrive.” When Rachel and James welcomed their second daughter in 2017, Family Connects visited again. Though they had much more confidence as parents the second time around, Rachel appreciated the reassurance and help she got from the nurse. They were able to talk about the new family dynamics that the arrival of baby Clara would bring. And Rachel learned about new community services that she was not aware of.

“Family Connects provided reassurance and cared for our whole family in a way that all new families need and deserve,” said Rachel.

Woman with an infant in her lap and toddler sitting in front; father in background