Her support groups seem like a secret, consisting of close knit circles of ladies learning and leaning on each other. And when IU Health childbirth educator and pediatric nurse practitioner, Cindy Love, calls her weekly meetings, attendance is always high.
For 17 years, she says, new moms and their babies have come and gone. They’ve come to learn and listen. They’ve come to laugh and cry. Most of all, they’ve come to see Cindy, a sweet and steady support. “I try to offer a little motherly TLC, which so many new moms need,” Love says. “My passion is to help new mothers feel more empowered to be parents, to teach them to listen to their guts and help them all understand that they have been created to be good moms.”
Love currently oversees two support groups, one for new moms with infants, the other for women with toddlers. Both groups, she says, were started by Birdie Myer, director of IU Health’s perinatal mood disorder program. “I used to work with Birdie years ago and she approached me about moderating some support groups. It’s been wonderful. Our groups meet weekly at IU Health North and Plainfield’s Recreation Center. They last for an hour and a half and are free--we do not charge anyone to attend or require any kind of registration. Toddler Time, the toddler parent support group, meets on Mondays in Plainfield and Tuesdays at IU Health North—both last from 10 to 11:30am. I supply toys and a snack for the kids while the mothers and I meet,” explains Love.
The support group for moms with children ages birth to a year, called Mother Connections, also meets on the same days (Mondays and Tuesdays) and in the same locations but begins at 12:30 and lasts until 2pm, she says. “Moms can bring their babies and nurse there, it’s very casual,” she says.
For each meeting, Love says, a topic or theme is planned, like sleep, potty training, etc. “I’m very strict about following the American Academy of Pediatric guidelines,” Love explains, “but I’m also very open about parents bringing their own opinions, backgrounds and cultures in. There’s no judgment.”
To further aid new moms, Love also organizes a steady stream of speakers. “I ask people to come in from organizations like Childcare Answers, First Steps of Indiana and as well as a pediatrician and pediatric dentist, too.”
And what about Cindy Love?
For her, this calling was never a question: She says always knew that she wanted to be a nurse, and a pediatric one at that, helping parents and kids.
And so, after obtaining her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Evansville, Love targeted Riley. “The year was 1981 and that was back when Riley Hospital for Children had a teen unit—they used to divide care up into age groups. I was hired right out of school to work there, helping those kids deal with various health issues,” she recalls. At the same time, Love also decided to enroll at IUPUI in a quest to get her Master’s and become a pediatric nurse practioner. “I had my hands full back then but really was dealing with things I loved.” From there, Love says she bounced around a bit. She got married and moved with her husband to Lafayette, eventually having four children of her own while continuing to keep her toes in nursing waters.
“I’d work part-time at a local hospital with a pediatrician and teach college nursing courses. Eventually, when we moved back to the Indy area, I returned to IU Health to work at Methodist Hospital. I’d conduct early discharge exams for newborns. I’ve always loved what I do so much that I’ve never wanted to completely disengage,” she explains.
When Birdie Meyer approached Love about moderating the support groups, she says she jumped at the chance. And Love has never looked back.
“When I see new moms start to become more confident in what they are doing, the choices they are making as a parent and taking real pride and ownership of their decisions, it’s so rewarding. Moms today can feel so pressured to be perfect. The bar is set so high. It’s just nice to bring them back to real once a week. I love being able to help them.”
-- By Sarah Burns