By Jacob Luecke
As a nurse with 16 years of experience helping deliver babies, Marla Owen has witnessed the miracle of birth hundreds of times. Yet, there are three deliveries in particular that inspire her on a daily basis: the births of her three sons.
Luke, 13, Cale, 11, and Andrew, 18 months, were all born at the Boone Family Birthplace. Each day as she serves patients at Boone Hospital, Owen is reminded of how her own nurses gave words of encouragement, helped take pictures and celebrated by her side as her children were born.
Now, in her nursing work, she tries to provide that same level of care to the women and families at the birthplace.
“There is not a more special, exciting time than the day and the moment when your children are born,” Owen says. “I want all the moms that I care for to have the good memories of the day their children were born. I certainly do and it’s because of the care I received from my friends and coworkers.”
The other mothers who serve patients at the Boone Family Birthplace share that sentiment. They empathize as their patients endure contractions. They share in the joy of seeing a child’s face for the first time. They relate to worries and fears new parents often have. All of these are familiar emotions because they’ve experienced them all firsthand.
“I believe that my experience as a mom helps me tremendously to be a better nurse,” birthplace nurse Rebecca Romero-Perez says. “I can actually relate to my patients with what they are going through, physically and emotionally. There are times that I even share my own personal stories with my patients and it helps us to bond over our common experiences.”
Romero-Perez has served patients at the Boone Family Birthplace for more than six years, and she’s always had an interest in birth and infants.
“I always knew that I wanted to work with pregnant women and babies,” she says. “The whole labor and delivery process is simply amazing!”
She has three sons at home, Aidan, 8, Ashton, 5 and Anderson, 16 months. “I’m thrilled to say that each one of them is a Boone Baby!” she says.
As she helps welcome new children into the world each day, she often reflects back to when her own boys were brand-new.
“Being around babies at work makes me think of my boys when they were little,” Romero-Perez says. “On occasion I’ll see a baby that resembles my boys, and it’s always so sweet to see. It’s also cool to see a baby that weighs the same as my boys. It’s so crazy to think that they were once that exact same size.”
Owen says she feels the same way. She, too, is often reminded of her children as newborns.
“I love remembering what it was like the day they were born, what they looked like and how they sounded when they cried,” she says. “I feel extremely lucky that I get to share these experiences with the families I care for during their birth experiences.”
While the celebration of new life is one of the greatest joys of working in the Boone Family Birthplace, some caregivers also have experienced personally the complications that sometimes come with labor and birth. This has given them a great level of compassion with patients facing similar issues.
Two years ago, Jennifer Roelands, MD, with Women’s Health Associates, came close to delivering her twins at 31 weeks gestation. She was put on bed rest — not always the most comfortable experience. However, the precaution worked and she made it to 34 weeks before delivering her twins, who were cared for in Boone Hospital’s Intensive Care Nursery.
“I think about my labor experience every time I am involved in someone else’s labor, especially preterm babies,” Dr. Roelands says. “I often think about the fear and uncertainty that preterm babies cause mothers and try to impart my story to them when appropriate because I think when people are scared they want to feel like they are not the only one.”
Dr. Roelands’ twins, Blake and Brooklyn, now 2, joined her older sons, Aidan, 7, and Logan, 4. Aidan was born before the family moved to mid-Missouri. Her three youngest were born at Boone Hospital.
“Being around babies always makes me think of my kids,” she says. “I love holding the newborns when my patients come in for their postpartum check. I like to see how they have grown and see how they have changed.”
Boone Family Birthplace caregivers also say their experience raising children has given them a greater understanding about how to care for patients.
“I think that being a mom teaches you a lot about compassion and anticipating the needs of others,” Owen says. “You certainly have to put the needs of others — like your children — before your own needs. You also have to learn to be organized. I see these qualities in my coworkers and the nurses that I want to be like.”
While working in the Boone Family Birthplace makes every day a celebration of motherhood, these caregivers say they are looking forward to Mother’s Day. Like all moms, they say they enjoy the opportunity to rest, receive homemade gifts and eat a good meal.
Dr. Roelands says she plans to do the cooking.
“I love to cook and it makes me happy when the kids want me to make breakfast for them,” she says.
Romero-Perez shares this wish: “Every mother should get to feel like a queen on Mother’s Day.”