‘Everyone is over the moon’: 20 labour and delivery nurses and doctors at Foothills pregnant at same time

The support and encouragement between them has been a lifeline during the pandemic, while public health measures prohibit many from visiting their extended family

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Calgary nurse Arden Hicks knows when her baby is born in a few months, the child will be loved and supported by many because she is one of 20 pregnant nurses and doctors working in the labour and delivery unit at Foothills Medical Centre.

It’s the most pregnancies among Unit 51’s staff at one time that Hicks remembers in her eight years working there. There are 16 nurses and four doctors pregnant now, with due dates between April and the fall. As well, another 16 labour and delivery nurses are currently on maternity leave after recently giving birth.

The support and encouragement between them has been a lifeline during the pandemic, while public health measures prohibit many from visiting their extended family.

“We’ve been trying out this new ultrasound machine. They often scan a few of us nurses because there are always pregnant nurses on shift. We get to see our babies and with COVID, lots of our husbands haven’t been able to come to our appointments, so we can send a video of the babies to our husbands, too,” said Hicks.

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She said the labour and delivery unit staff are like a big family and they’re thrilled their kids will grow up together.

Hicks has been trying to have a baby for more than three years and tried multiple rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) before conceiving her baby. After watching how long she and her husband have waited for this child, her team at Foothills is calling the baby the “unit baby.”

“It’s been an interesting unit for myself to be on while going through infertility struggles but now, being pregnant, the support is so overwhelming. Everyone is over the moon because they’ve seen the struggles that we’ve been through,” said Hicks, who is 20 weeks along.

Labour and delivery units attract younger, women nurses because of the intensive work, long hours on their feet and unpredictable shifts, said Courtney Farrow, one of the nurses on maternity leave. High-risk pregnancies in Calgary and the surrounding area often get sent to Foothills, as well, so the unit can also be very stressful for the staff.

“But even though we’re seeing it all, we still think it’s worth it. We see what all of these women go through but we see the joy at the end of it,” Farrow said, explaining why she believes so many labour and delivery staff are pregnant around the same time.

“Despite how labour might have gone for these patients, seeing them hold that baby makes it worth it.”

From top left; registered nurses Ashley Guilbeault with six-month-old Quinn, Kelsey Singer, Janelle Coady with six-month-old Sophie, Marianne Beier with her daughter Lillian, Krissy Mendritzki with three-weeks-old Miles, Briasha Filewich, Melissa Reinhart, Arden Hicks, Christie Emmett, Amanda Gillis, Erika Haidl with her daughter Eliza, Amanda Lew with three-month-old Aiden, Amy Sheldon with seven-month-old Elliot, Jennifer Bourque, Patricia Szava-Kovats, Jenny Kwok, Rebekah Avila with her daughters Harper, three-months-old, and Emma, 2, Courtney Printz, Courtney Farrow with her son Rogan and her daughter Rachel, and Tara Meagher with her daughters Paisley and Summer pose for a photo outside the Foothills Hospital on Thursday, March 25, 2021.
From top left; registered nurses Ashley Guilbeault with six-month-old Quinn, Kelsey Singer, Janelle Coady with six-month-old Sophie, Marianne Beier with her daughter Lillian, Krissy Mendritzki with three-weeks-old Miles, Briasha Filewich, Melissa Reinhart, Arden Hicks, Christie Emmett, Amanda Gillis, Erika Haidl with her daughter Eliza, Amanda Lew with three-month-old Aiden, Amy Sheldon with seven-month-old Elliot, Jennifer Bourque, Patricia Szava-Kovats, Jenny Kwok, Rebekah Avila with her daughters Harper, three-months-old, and Emma, 2, Courtney Printz, Courtney Farrow with her son Rogan and her daughter Rachel, and Tara Meagher with her daughters Paisley and Summer pose for a photo outside the Foothills Hospital on Thursday, March 25, 2021. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Farrow gave birth to her thirdchild in September, and has watched with joy as other colleagues have announced their pregnancies or given birth, too. The hospital has been hiring nurses to cover the temporary positions and they have a large pool of casual workers, Farrow said.

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Alex Robertson, who’s been working as a nurse in the unit for three years, is due in August with her first baby. She loves that she can now relate with her patients on a level she never has before.

“It’s been fun to be on the other end, as a pregnant person. You can feel more empathic for the patients because you feel the same kinds of aches and pains as them,” said Robertson.

Unit 51 delivers approximately 20 babies per day, though it can vary day-to-day, and provides 24-7 care for pregnant women and newborn babies including deliveries, care for pregnancy complications and breastfeeding support.

Rebekah Avila, a nurse who had a baby girl — her second child — in December, said it was a positive experience giving birth at Foothills with the help of her co-workers.

“It’s comforting to know everything that’s going to happen and you feel really secure. You know what they’re capable of so if anything goes wrong, you can keep that in mind,” said Avila.

Nurse Tara Meagher is pregnant with her third, though she said many of the other 20 nurses and doctors are having their first baby. She’s due in April and has been immensely grateful to have a community to lean on while mom groups and prenatal classes are virtual because of the pandemic.

“It’s tough without maternity groups but we’re still able to support each other, which is great,” said Meagher.

sbabych@postmedia.com
Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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