“Heaven-sent” Nurse Helps Mom Through Birth During COVID-19 Pandemic

Having a baby can be overwhelming for any family, but preparing to have a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic adds much more stress to the situation.

Fortunately for Kate Smith and Tommy Tripp, their birth team at Mercy Health was a trusted family obstetrician and “heaven-sent nurses” who provided excellent care as they prepared to meet their fourth son, Calem.

For Kate, the pandemic hit home when she was about 35 weeks pregnant, when schools were initially closed for several weeks due to the Governor’s order in mid-March. Other things began to change in her life, too.

“My OB office was great with reminding me about the new guidelines,” said Kate. “Before my OB appointments at Dr. Joseph Talcott’s office, his staff would call me and remind me not to have any visitors, and that I had to wear a mask before I came in for my appointments.”

Preparing for a hospitalization and time away from their three older children was no small order for Kate and Tommy. Everyone in Michigan was ordered to stay home and stay safe due to COVID-19. Bringing extended family members into her household was now a scary experience, so Kate asked her parents to self-isolate, including not going to work, for 15 days before she was scheduled to be induced.

“I feel like it might sound extreme or controlling, but I wanted to make sure that my parents weren’t bringing anything into my house, either,” said Kate.

Kate arrived at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s to be induced on April 8, with her one allotted visitor, Tommy. She wore her own mask until she got into her private room in the Birth Center.

Once on the unit, Kate was tested for COVID-19 and Tommy was screened for COVID-19.

“I think it’s great they tested me right on the unit,” she said. “I liked knowing that I didn’t have it, especially since I was going to be so close to my baby once he was born.”

Kate’s entire birth experience was wonderful.

“I had this really great nurse, Kristi Lewallen,” she said. “She stayed with me for the entire time I was induced until Calem was born more than five hours later.

“She was heaven-sent.”

Kristi rubbed Kate’s shoulders while she received her epidural. Kate recalls being told over and over, “You’re doing great, you’re doing so well.”

Talcott also felt like family, having delivered all three of Kate’s other children. In fact, Tommy and all his siblings had also been delivered by Talcott!

When Tommy had to leave briefly to care for their children at home in the evenings, Kate would have been alone, had it not been for her nurses, who never left her side when she didn’t have Tommy there.  

“It was just hard. We wore masks, but we made the best of it,” said Kate. “We did a lot of video chatting with other family members while we were in the hospital, because we didn’t have any visitors.”

Kate feels fortunate to have had the experience she had at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, despite the visitor restrictions and masks.

“It was such a great experience. We love our new son. I do feel blessed.”

Learn more about maternity care at www.MaternityCareAtMercyHealth.com.

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