St. Elizabeth Family Birth Place: Home Away From Home

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Danielle Meyer always knew she wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse. She was drawn to women’s health during nursing school and thrilled when she landed a position at the St. Elizabeth Family Birth Place in 2014. 

Each day, Danielle and her fellow labor and delivery nurses work one-on-one with patients to safely welcome their babies into the world. The supportive, friendly environment at the Family Birth Place makes it a wonderful place to deliver your baby — something Danielle and her husband would soon experience firsthand.  

Choosing St. Elizabeth

When Danielle became pregnant, she knew she wanted to receive prenatal care and deliver at St. Elizabeth. After working with the doctors and midwives at the Family Birth Place, Danielle knew this was the best group of professionals to be by her side throughout her pregnancy. 

“It was so special to work with my group of midwives and physicians,” says Danielle. “I couldn’t go wrong with this group — and it was extra-special that they know me and they know my personality. I was treated like a patient instead of a coworker when I was in their office, which I was so thankful for as a first-time mom.”

Danielle’s pregnancy was smooth and uneventful until early 2021. In her third trimester, she was diagnosed with gestational hypertension when her blood pressure started showing worrisome spikes. After a particularly high reading at her 35-week check-up, Danielle spent a night in the St. Elizabeth antepartum unit as a precaution. She felt right at home with her fellow nurses taking care of her. 

“It was easier on me than on my husband,” says Danielle. “I felt so comfortable knowing that my baby and I were being well taken care of by the St. Elizabeth team. It helped ease my husband’s worries a bit, too.” 

Time to Meet Baby

Following her stay in the antepartum unit, Danielle was discharged but remained on bed rest at home. Her baby measured big, so between the baby’s size and Danielle’s hypertension, her midwife recommended an induction at 37 weeks. 

On February 19, Danielle and her husband checked into St. Elizabeth Family Birth Place at 6 a.m. to begin her induction. As a St. Elizabeth labor and delivery nurse, Danielle knew what to expect but quickly learned that it was a different — and unforgettable — experience to be the patient surrounded by her caring coworkers.

“I work with so many wonderful nurses, and it made the whole experience extra-special,” says Danielle. “I knew exactly what type of vibe I wanted throughout the day and I am so lucky I had some of my closest friends and fellow nurses by my side.”

By 5:30 p.m. Danielle and her husband were ready to meet their baby. Danielle had progressed right on track throughout the day, her water broke and she was fully dilated. However, as the evening wore on, her progress came to a standstill. Danielle had three nurses and a midwife working with her to get the baby into position — to no avail. Danielle’s midwife had a conversation with the new parents-to-be and gave them a choice: keep trying to get the baby into position or opt for a c-section.

“I felt supported and like it was completely my decision,” says Danielle. “They gave us some time to process it because they knew I understood all of the risks and choices ahead of me.”

Danielle and her husband decided to go forward with the c-section. Even though Danielle is frequently in the operating room as a nurse taking care of her patients, she found being a patient was a little overwhelming. 

“When you are in the operating room as a patient, it’s a totally different experience,” says Danielle. “I was nervous, excited and completely overwhelmed. My husband and I were so thankful for the attentive care of my team.”

A Unique Arrival

William Frank Meyer V arrived at 10:59 p.m., weighing in at 7 pounds 6 ounces. Danielle and her husband were immediately in love. 

“I knew that with all of the COVID-19 protocols, our families couldn’t be there for Will’s delivery,” says Danielle. “I am so lucky I had my other family there — it was unbelievably comforting to me as a first-time mom.”

Danielle’s closest friends stayed long after their shifts were over to meet baby William and take pictures and videos to send to family and friends. She credits her postpartum nurses and lactation consultant with helping her through the first few tough nights. 

Will was born on a Friday and the family was discharged on a Monday. By Thursday, Danielle was readmitted to St. Elizabeth’s postpartum unit for monitoring of high blood pressure. Luckily, Danielle’s husband and the baby were able to stay those few extra nights with her while her blood pressure stabilized. After a few days of medicine and monitoring, Danielle was cleared to go home once again. 

An Unforgettable Birth Experience

Danielle and her husband enjoy every minute with baby Will. Danielle’s stepdaughter Kaylee wasn’t allowed at the hospital due to COVID-19 protocols, but she is enamored with her baby brother. The family of four is thrilled to be home together after an unforgettable journey. 

“I couldn’t wait to have my husband immersed in my work world,” says Danielle. “And since I was admitted as a prenatal, labor, postpartum and postpartum-readmit, he truly got the whole experience, no matter how stressful it was!”

Danielle also says that her entire experience made her an even better nurse, adding extra layers of understanding and compassion. She is enjoying her maternity leave at home with baby Will but is also excited to take her firsthand birthing experience back to work. 

“When my patient first arrives at the Family Birth Place, I pull up a stool, get on their level and ask, ‘how can I help you with this special day?’’ she says. “I want to talk through their plan and hear what they want out of this experience. I want to help make this one of the happiest days of their lives.”

For more information about the St. Elizabeth Family Birth Place, please visit stelizabeth.com/baby.