Carolyn Saunders
May 2019
Labor and Delivery
University of Virginia Health System
United States




My husband and I checked into the labor and delivery floor after two days of contractions and anticipation of our first little one. We were quickly checked in and within 20 minutes were informed that we would be staying due to being six centimeters dilated. From there, we were escorted to my requested room that had a tub which I was hoping to use during my unmedicated laboring process. Everyone we encountered was kind, helpful, and eased any nerves we had. At 5 pm (I believe), the rotation of nurses changed, and I was introduced to my new nurse, Carolyn who also had a resident with her at the time. She was attentive to our requests which for the first couple of hours looked like giving my husband and I time alone. As I began to dilate more, she shared some ideas she had about getting the baby to engage more and so for the next hour or two she and the attending resident worked with me to get the baby to engage. It was painful, but through the entire process, they were encouraging and told me that at any moment we could stop. It probably would've been easier for Carolyn to do this process by herself, but she took time to not just show the resident how to use the fabric to maneuver my belly, but also my husband. As a husband, the labor process is very taxing, but having her be intentional about letting him be involved, allowed him to do something tangible and help. Honestly, as the evening progressed, the timeline gets a lot blurrier. I can tell you that from the moment I was checked in at 11:45 am to when my epidural was administered at 4 am the next day, I was on my feet and so was Carolyn. They didn't know at the time, but our little one was sunny side up and so I was unable to sit due to the incredible amount of pain on my tail bone. Rather than pressuring me to try positions laying down, knowing how excruciating it was, Carolyn stood behind me rubbing my back, bearing my weight as I held onto her shoulders and pushed, and most importantly, spoke truth over me in what felt like hopeless moments. Carolyn fought for my requests of not having medication or men in the room. Once we reached four hours of pushing and no progress, the doctors decided we either needed to consider an epidural or C-section, in fear of me becoming too exhausted. Carolyn knew I didn't want to do either of these options but respectfully reminded me that it would allow my body to rest. Carolyn knew the epidural would be excruciating, not because of the needle, but because I would have to sit. She held me as I cried and shook from the pain and tended to my husband as he passed out. She continued to fight for me as the epidural didn't ease the pain and I continued to feel every contraction. There wasn't a moment during her shift that I ever had to question whether or not my requests would be honored.
At 7:11 am our sweet daughter was born and there to welcome my sweet girl with me, was my newfound friend, Carolyn. She stayed past her shift to see to it that this little girl arrived safely and that I was in good hands. For months leading up to her birth, my husband and I prayed for staff that would be kind and compassionate. I can say without a doubt that our expectations were exceeded by everyone we came in contact with, especially Carolyn. I believe whole-heartedly that I wouldn't have been able to do it without her. She used her knowledge of birthing positions to help engage my daughter's head into the birth canal, empowered my husband and the resident to experience the labor process to the fullest, and exceeded any expectation I could've ever given for a caregiver/supporter during the process. My husband and I could not thank her enough for her humility and compassion towards our family. We will forever be grateful and hope that she knows what a gift she was to us.