Nurses Pray for the Restoration of Labor and Delivery Services
By Kiesa Kay
“For you formed my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. My soul knows that very well. My frame wasn’t hidden from you, when I was made in secret, woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my body. In your book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there were none of them.” – Psalm 139, 13-16
Giving birth remains a sacred and holy act, far beyond any simple medical procedures. Two nurses who built their lives and careers at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Labor and Delivery pray that someday, families will be able to stay close to home again, and not have to have pregnancies induced, get air-lifted to cities, or be forced to drive down the mountains in labor.
“God loves these babies and their mommies,” Jamie Pate said. “We all are here for a reason, created for a purpose, and driving down the mountain in labor puts babies at risk.”
As labor and delivery nurses, Jamie Pate and Aleisha Ballew Silvers have witnessed many miracles and great love. In a big city hospital, families might get transferred from one nurse to the next, and never even know the doctor or nurses who are with them during the most spiritual and transcendent moments of their lives.
“We bonded with our families,” Aleisha said. “One family had three sisters, and they all had suffered a loss. One girl came into labor, but there was no heartbeat. Those sisters asked us to do everything we could to save her baby, and she had no idea the baby had passed. She and her husband impressed me so much with their faith.”
Aleisha took a deep breath, and then continued, “God chose the person to be with them that night. The baby had a six-year-old sister, sitting with her mom and her Daddy in the chair next to her, holding that deceased baby. The little girl said, ‘Momma, does Baby Brother miss you holding him in your tummy?’ And that mother replied, ‘No because Jesus is holding him now.’”
As Jeremiah 1: 5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I sanctified you.”
Every birth experience is so much more than a medical procedure, Jamie said, and families deserve to be treated with respect and reverence. For labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum care at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, a mother stayed in the same room for the whole time, something that not all larger hospitals care to offer. Sorrows happened rarely, and births often were met with great joy in a family-friendly setting.
“We helped them learn to breastfeed, diaper, burp, and bond, “ Aleisha said. “That first hour between the mom and the baby, we put them skin to skin on her chest for the first time. A small town hospital can be so important to one family. We love our families. We know them and we love them.”
As nurses, Aleisha and Jamie have borne witness to the benefits of good care and the most important moments of family life.
Jamie said, “In one of the last births there, the mom was told that her baby would not make it, but she chose to continue with her pregnancy to give that baby as much love on earth as she could.”
When services got stripped away from the hospital, Jamie did training with Emergency Medical Services and Emergency Room doctors and nurses.
Jamie and others with the labor and delivery staff had taught the EMTs to do deliveries and care for newborns if necessary, and when a neighbor called for help with a baby being born, they knew what to do when they got there.
“I give thanks for Landon Gouge and his EMTs,” Jamie said. “He works in the ER now and I want to hug him every time I see him because the Lord said there was going to be a miracle.”
Jamie had taken a few days to be with her own father in South Carolina, and when she returned, a social worker asked her to take care of the baby who had been resuscitated by emergency medical technicians at birth and to make that child her own.
“The social worker had called three counties, and no one could take that baby due to addictions. I was supposed to be her nurse, and I knew what to do,” Jamie said. “She needed to detox for five months, but I had exposure to babies with those needs.”
Although the social worker and the EMTs did not know it, that sweet little baby girl was the answer to prayers. Jamie’s youngest son, 10, had prayed six months for a baby sister, and by his birthday that year, she had become part of the family. That baby girl has reached school age, and she is thriving, Jamie said. Jamie and her husband have adopted six children through the North Carolina Department of Social Services. They believe as Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.”
“It is our walk with people as the Lord delivers them and sets them free from addiction, and the children matter first,” she said. “We live in a community that loves the Lord. Drugs are a problem for some people, but He delivers us out of evil.”
Aleisha works at McDowell now, and she says the staff is good. Nonetheless, she would love to see labor and delivery brought back to this area, back to Blue Ridge, or somewhere in Yancey County.
“Labor and delivery is the heart of a hospital, and why people come back to a hospital when they get really good care,” Aleisha said.
Jamie and Aleisha both feel that nursing is a calling, and they believe in the power of prayer. They have seen first-hand what miracles God can do, and they know how much this area deeply needs labor and delivery services for the safety and health of mothers, babies, and all families. In the biggest city hospitals, the quantity of births can mean that the quality suffers, and Aleisha recalled seeing a horrific birth injury in a big city hospital that would have been prevented if more time and care had been taken.
“It was the result of being rushed in and out and treated like a number,” Aleisha said. “They sent a resident alone to take care of it, and then they wanted this mom to go to women’s surgical, and it took about two hours to repair this woman’s rip. The resident broke sterile two times and I had to tell her how to repair. I feel for those girls. Some wonderful nurses are working who are completely overwhelmed.”
Personal attention and lower staff-to-patient ratios can prevent those kinds of problems, she said, and it’s one of the many reasons that this area needs labor and delivery services back as soon as possible. Some labor and delivery services in other places, such as the Baby Place at AdventHealth in Hendersonville and the Mission Health McDowell Hospital, have been recognized for their quality of care, but they are few and far between. Only eight hospitals in all 16 counties of WNC do labor and delivery.
Both nurses ask for everyone’s prayers to restore labor and delivery services to Yancey and Mitchell County. They will not give up hope. As Isaiah 40:31 says: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
“It is in God’s heart,” Jamie said. “Babies are blessings, not burdens. We leave no other treasure but the children we raise for Him.”
Kiesa Kay, poet, and playwright, writes and plays fiddle at her cabin with a panoramic view of the Black Mountains
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