Maternity Patient Praises Nurses for Compassion, Kindness

After a string of devastating losses — her father in 2014, a beloved cat, her grandmother and a miscarriage in December 2015 — Therese Todtenbier didn’t know if she had the will to attempt another pregnancy. But in 2016, she and her wife, Meghan, decided they wanted to try again.

Therese became pregnant in August 2016, and her birth plan was to have an unmedicated, natural birth. When she arrived at The Christ Hospital in March 2017 for a blood pressure check during her 35th week of pregnancy, those plans changed.

A recent blood pressure reading had shown 170/109, and she was starting to swell. Her doctors diagnosed preeclampsia and told her she wouldn’t be going home. They planned to induce her, but the induction medications failed to produce results over the next few days. Therese's doctors finally scheduled a C-section.

“My biggest fear was of losing him or of something being wrong,” Therese recalls.

Her son, Henry, was born healthy at 6 lbs., 4 ounces and measuring 19 ½ inches on March 26, 2017. Meghan was at her side for his birth. Henry was taken to the Special Care Nursery to monitor his feeding, but he thrived there and went home a week later.

Therese vividly remembers many details during her hospital stay. Nothing stands out in her mind more than the incredible care she received from her nurses before, during and after her delivery.

Therese meticulously kept track of each nurse’s name. Here is her tribute to those who made her birth experience so memorable:

On March 23, 2017, I went to Labor & Delivery for observation of my blood pressure.  At the time, I wasn't aware that I was staying. I was 35 weeks and one day pregnant with my first baby. I quickly learned that due to preeclampsia I would be admitted and induced that evening. This sent me into a panic, since my baby would be five weeks early. Once I was taken to the floor and settled in, I had some really fantastic nurses that I would like to recognize.

Donna Wood was my nurse that evening and she was the most kind, compassionate person I've ever met. She helped ease my fears and made sure I was calm and comfortable. She never once fussed when I moved and the baby's heart monitor would need to be readjusted or when I'd call to use the restroom for the 10th time that night. She would chat with me when I'd be awake and feeling nervous in those wee hours. Another time, she wasn't my nurse but she made sure to come and check on me and fill in for my nurse so she could make sure I was still doing OK. I can never truly express my appreciation for Donna.  She is definitely a fantastic asset to The Christ Hospital nursing team.

Anne Fox was my nurse the day of my C-section. She came in that morning and explained things to me, made sure I was feeling OK with what was about to happen and answered any questions I had. She prepped me for surgery and was my nurse during the surgery. I've never been through anything like this before, and I had a wonderful experience, in part due to Anne.  She eased my fears and helped keep me calm through everything.  She even made sure I got to stop by the Special Care Nursery and see my baby before I was taken back to the floor from recovery. I can't express my gratitude enough for Anne. I was a bundle of nerves the night before and once Anne entered my room and started taking care of me, all of the nerves were gone. I went into the C-section laughing, laughed through my spinal, as well as through the delivery of my son. I feel a lot of this was in part due to Anne.  She is also such an asset to The Christ Hospital nursing team.

Tiffany Rabe was one of my nurses for part of the day, as she was filling in for my nurse who got put on another delivery. She was kind and treated me with respect. She would check to make sure I was comfortable and didn't need anything. She would also chat with me, which helped keep me from feeling nervous or stressed about my situation. The next day she stopped over to see me in recovery and congratulate me on the birth of my baby. I thought this was very kind. She is a great nurse and person and definitely one to keep on Labor & Delivery.

Kathy Elliott was my nurse one of the days before my C-section and the day after. I was put back on Labor & Delivery after my C-section due to being on magnesium. The night before was very rough for me, as I was sick from my blood pressure getting very low, as well as the surgery. Kathy was kind and compassionate. She treated me with dignity and respect each time she'd come in to take care of me and clean me up as well as check my incision. She got me up out of bed so I could get comfortable when no one else would.  She is such a kind and caring person as well as a great nurse.

Shari Stoeckel and Elizabeth Rolf were also two of my nurses who took good care of me and were very nice and respectful. Elizabeth was wonderful and took me over to see my son, since I hadn't held him yet. It was 12 hours later after his birth that he could finally be held, and I was so upset that I was stuck in my room and couldn't go be with him.  Elizabeth got it OK'd with the floor nurse and took me over for a bit to see him, which really helped lift my spirits.

Anthony Wehby was my nurse anesthetist during my C-section. He came to my room the morning of the surgery and spoke with me, as well as explained how the spinal would be administered and what I could expect. He was so good at the spinal; it didn't cause me a bit of pain. He helped me stay calm and happy all during my surgery. I've never been through any sort of surgery where I was awake during it, and I wasn't one bit nervous in part due to Anthony. He is fantastic at his job and has a great personality that I believe helps keep patients calm. 

Lisa Manning was one of my nurses on the postpartum side. She was fantastic. She went above and beyond her job description to make sure I was comfortable and had everything I could possibly need. I had trouble with a lot of gas after the C-section, and she was the first nurse to tell me to drink a hot beverage with each meal and that would help get things moving. She'd even offer to get me a beverage or anything I could possibly need. She treated me with such compassion and respect. She also told me that if I got up and moved around that would help me feel better. You can tell she really cares about her patients and sees them as people instead of just as her job. 

Julie Silver was one of the nurses who took care of my son in the Special Care Nursery. She is definitely in the right job. She is the sweetest person and really cares about her patients and their families. She went above and beyond to make sure my son was doing good and that we had any and all questions answered. The day he was supposed to come home, there was a bit of confusion, as the doctor on duty switched. Julie encouraged him to take a look at everything instead of the most recent note. This helped us go home the day we originally thought. For a mom of a baby in the Special Care Nursery, this was such a huge thing that Julie did. I was beyond crushed when I thought we weren't going to get to bring him home. I can't say enough wonderful things about Julie. She is amazing!

I want these nurses to be recognized for their outstanding care. I really appreciate their kindness and compassion at such a momentous time in my life. They came in and treated me like a person. They lowered my anxiety and kept me relaxed.

Thank you,
Therese Todtenbier

Photo: Therese holds her son, Henry, who recently celebrated his first birthday. “He crawls like a speed demon and pulls himself up on things. He’s problem solving, and it’s funny to watch his little wheels turning in his head,” Therese says.

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