DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Alexandra Johnson has plenty of people to go to with questions as she prepares to have a baby in July.
Johnson, a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at MercyOne Dubuque Medical Center, has 10 colleagues in her unit who also are pregnant.
“It’s fun, especially as a new mom,” Johnson told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. “These other people have had babies, most of them have had babies before, so it’s nice to have somebody to ask questions.”
MercyOne in Dubuque has 11 nurses working in the Maternal Child Services unit who are pregnant, with due dates from April through October. The unit, which includes the birth center, NICU and pediatrics, has about 80 nurses.
The nurses who are expecting children said they enjoy the chance to go through pregnancy together, noting that as people who work with babies and children, they are able to support one another through the process and as they have their own children.
“We hold babies all day every day, so when they come through and they’re part of our own, it’s something special, and we actually get to hold babies that we know,” said Meghan Randecker, a NICU nurse at MercyOne Dubuque, who is expecting a child in September.
Randecker said it is common to have at least one person in Maternal Child Services who is pregnant. Amy Wright, director of Maternal Child Services, said several nurses were pregnant at the same time a few years ago.
At UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital, six nurses in the Family Birthing Suites were pregnant at this time last year, with two more finishing up maternity leave, according to Nurse Manager Jenni Scott.
Still, there usually aren’t quite this many nurses who are pregnant at once, Wright said.
“Someone’s always pregnant, but their deliveries are usually spaced out a little bit more,” she said, noting that three more nurses recently had babies.
The nurses who are pregnant said they enjoy the chance to see one another’s bellies grow and to watch their colleagues take on new challenges.
“A lot of us, we’ve seen each other start dating and then get engaged and then married and have babies, so it’s like we’ve been there the whole way,” said Katie Schnering, a labor and delivery nurse whose own baby is due in July.
She also enjoys having a due date close to Johnson because they go through milestones at similar times.
“It’s like, ‘Well, what are you feeling right now? Have you started feeling movements now? Or, when is your ultrasound appointment?’” Schnering said. “Things like that are just cool to do when you are super close in a due date.”
While the nurses in Maternal Child Services have plenty of experience working with babies and children, Tara Lynch, who works in the lactation department, said the experience of being a patient is completely different than being a nurse — an experience she can attest to from an earlier pregnancy.
“(It’s) just different being the nurse vs. the patient,” said Lynch, who has a baby due in June. “There’s a big learning curve being a first-time mom. It gets easier with each one. You kind of know what to expect, but it’s harder because you have little ones at home to take care of, so it’s easier and harder at the same time, I tell parents.”
Randecker said being a nurse means that some parts of pregnancy can be scarier because she knows what could go wrong, but she also has plenty of people to talk to who understand what she is feeling.
“You always have somebody you can ask, too,” she said “It’s kind of nice. We have extra resources almost, being around the doctors. We’re never afraid to ask them questions.”
They also know they have colleagues who will take care of them and will have their back. Schnering said that having gone through pregnancies before and after becoming a nurse, she much prefers to have her co-workers delivering her babies.
“It’s doctors I work with every day and nurses I work with every day, and they get to come take care of me, and I think that’s super special and fun,” she said. “Oftentimes, people will be like, ‘Isn’t that weird?’ And it’s like, no, it’s the most comforting thing because I totally trust in their skills and abilities.”