Meet Kate S.
Our journey began back in August 2019 when we found out we were expecting — well before any concerns of coronavirus. My former OB no longer accepted my health insurance, so I was in search of a new team. The thought was daunting until I remembered that AdventHealth offered their complimentary Health Navigator service lead by Doreen Forsythe, BSN, RN, whom I had met at several events. So, I sent her a quick email that I was looking for a new OB within my network and someone from her team promptly sent me a list of options. Further research landed me at AdventHealth Medical Group OB/GYN at Altamonte Springs.
My first appointment was with Certified Nurse Midwife Jennifer Collins. Her warmth and openness made me feel comfortable from the get-go. She became my main care provider as I was interested in pursuing a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) in which the medical group was supportive. I later met with Dr. Robert Mutch to discuss the risks of VBAC as well as the procedure in case I had to have another cesarean. I was immediately drawn to his dry sense of humor. He answered all of my questions and concerns. I knew I was in good hands no matter the outcome. But as time went on questions on my care and other COVID-19 concerns evolved.
I had to attend appointments on my own (without my husband) and get screened and given a mask before entering. Throughout the process I never felt there were unsafe conditions and was assured that AdventHealth Altamonte, where I would deliver, was taking all the necessary precautions. At one point Dr. Mutch commented that “they were literally scrubbing the walls.” We were lucky enough to tour the hospital back in February prior to the lockdown, but stayed in contact with the Birth Experience Coordinator Laura Harshman, BSN, RN, who kept us up-to-date on the changing policies at the hospital and answered all my last-minute questions prior to our delivery.
As I approached 39 weeks and with no signs of labor, I decided to schedule a repeat C-section for Audrey’s due date of May 21. (A VBAC would not be considered past 41 weeks). I was miserable and had enough anxiety with the pandemic that it was the best decision for me. When we — yes, my husband was with me the whole time — arrived at AdventHealth Altamonte, we were screened and promptly led up to triage in the labor and delivery unit.
We were paired with the best nurse, Courtney. Her southern charm and sense of humor were just what I needed to calm my nerves before the arrival of our daughter! She was also very good at her job and promptly prepped and explained everything to us. After quick consultations with Dr. Mutch and anesthesiologist Michael Mann, we were led back to the operating room. During the procedure, everyone made sure I felt comfortable as Mike sat next to me. Even Jennifer Collins scrubbed in, which was so nice and not something I was expecting. I can’t describe the feeling when we heard the first cries from our baby girl! It was more of a blur with my son, but this time I felt much more relaxed and present in the moment — a testament to the care team.
I experienced some unfortunate side effects in recovery — vomiting and high blood pressure — but Courtney was there every step of the way. I felt much better after a few hours and we were moved to our large, upgraded room. Awaiting us was several extra amenities, including plush robes and towels, beautiful flowers, an apple cider toast, a gift for Audrey and her big brother, large Mom and Dad coffee mugs (which we use all the time now), and a basket full of snacks, all of which are offered to parents as part of the concierge services at The Baby Place at AdventHealth. The snacks were a real lifesaver during the long nights. It was also comforting that Mike did not have to leave our room for food as leaving the hospital was not encouraged due to COVID. Both of us were brought breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.
Our extraordinary care continued with our nurses Kay Ann, Exxa and Mary. They checked in often but also gave us our space when we wanted to sleep. Communication was key, letting us know around what times they would be in to check vitals, provide medication, etc. And we actually enjoyed not having visitors. While we would have gladly accepted them, it was nice to take the time to focus on my recovery and bond with our new bundle.
After 48 hours, we were discharged but the care continued as we were sent home with a packet of information and resources. I made sure to consult this information often as I remember being very overwhelmed with my first born. I especially appreciated the access to lactation consultants. We met with one in the hospital and I even called them a few times after returning home. Today, we are all happy and healthy and enjoying our time together at home, adjusting to life as a family of four. While the pandemic could have drastically derailed our plans and hindered our experience, we are grateful for the level of care we received, and the steps taken to keep us safe.