Holy Name Medical Center - This Place is Different
Holy Name Medical Center - This Place is Different

Krissa Matarlo-Smith

"They made me feel like I had family around me. It was really nice to have that motherly support when my own mom couldn't be there."

Like many women, when Krissa imagined having a baby, she wanted her mother with her. So, in the fall of 2019, when she and her husband, Lorenzo, found out they were expecting a baby boy, they couldn't wait to share the news with their loved ones. Most importantly, they wanted to ask Krissa's mom to be in the delivery room with them.

Krissa and her mom are incredibly close, talking on the phone every other day. Naturally, she would want her mom there on the day that she, herself, became a mother. Krissa's mom is also a former ER nurse so not only could she provide loving maternal support but she would also bring experience and confidence to help coach Krissa through labor and keep her calm.

Krissa felt she and her baby would be in good hands.

But when COVID-19 hit, Krissa realized that her birth plan would probably need to be altered. In fact, with so many unknowns and protocols changing on a daily basis, Krissa seriously considered a home birth, until her OB reassured her that The BirthPlace at Holy Name Medical Center was implementing every safety precaution possible. Krissa knew she wanted to be able to access maternal-fetal medicine specialists if needed, and felt she and her baby would be in good hands. She and Lorenzo decided to stick to their plan of giving birth in the hospital, even if that meant making other changes.

Among those changes: Only one family member could be with her during delivery due to COVID restrictions. Krissa never hesitated – she wanted her husband to be there for the birth of their son. But she knew this meant not only would her mom miss her first grandchild coming into the world, Krissa wouldn't have her mom's support as she made her own transition from daughter to mother.

This change of plans was hard on Krissa's mom, but even harder on Krissa. "I wished my mom could be there to hold my hand and tell me it would be okay."

On her delivery day, she said it was like the nurses sensed this. Once Krissa knew she was in labor, she and Lorenzo headed to The BirthPlace, just the two of them, as planned. Her nurses stayed with her through most of the 24 hours she was in labor, offering encouragement and keeping her calm.

"They made me feel so comfortable, like my own aunts and family were there for me."

Eventually, the doctors determined that Krissa needed a Cesarean section. It was precisely for complications like these that Krissa had hoped her mother's experience and confidence would help her. Instead, her nurses, several of whom were mothers themselves, stepped in. They provided Krissa with as much emotional support as medical care.

"They made me feel like I had family around me," Krissa said. "It was really nice to have that motherly support when my own mom couldn't be there."

Baby Ezra was born on May 12, 2020, weighing in at 6 lbs., 4 oz. The nurses offered as much support after the birth as they did during labor and delivery – taking pictures of the new family, helping Krissa breastfeed, and showing her and Lorenzo how to change a diaper and safely swaddle their newborn bundle of joy.

"While I would have loved for my mom to teach me how to do those things, the fact that these nurses were women and most had gone through this themselves made me feel so comfortable, like my own aunts and family were there for me."

Krissa's original birth plan may not have included a pandemic, an emergency C-section, and giving birth without her mom, but with the support of the nurses at Holy Name, she had a healthy baby and a deep sense of being cared for and supported.

"In the middle of it all, Holy Name was there for me."

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