When Amber Weispfenning, a 33-year-old medical social worker from Des Moines, arrived at Iowa Methodist Medical Center to deliver her third child in early June 2013, all seemed well.
For the birth of her second child, her daughter, Luella, she had been pleased with her experience with the Midwife Services of UnityPoint Health - Des Moines.
"We had a wonderful birth experience with Luella," Amber says. "My midwife stayed in the room during the whole birth, and she really respected my birth plan and was able to offer suggestions to make me more comfortable during labor and delivery. It was an easy decision to return to the midwives. While I had some discomfort during this pregnancy, I reminded myself that I was five years older than when I had my last child."
On June 6, after seven hours of natural labor, Emmett Davis Weispfenning was born at Iowa Methodist, weighing 9 pounds and 2.2 ounces. Amber and her husband couldn't have been happier. Over the next day, Emmett roomed in with his mother. On the morning of June 7, however, things took a turn for the worse.
"That morning, he struggled to nurse, despite the support of the staff and lactation consultant," Amber says. "As a new mom, you feel like breastfeeding should just happen- for us though, it wasn't that easy. As the morning progressed, feeding became an issue, and the nurses were worried about his blood sugar. Then he began to struggle to breathe and turned a grayish-blue color in my arms."
Calming a Mother's Worst Fears
Nurses began assessing Emmett's condition immediately and determined he should be transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Blank Children's Hospital, which is located just steps away. Amber worried about what this could mean for her newborn baby and her family.
"Because I'm a medical social worker who interacts with children with special health care needs, my thoughts quickly turned to a much scarier scenario," Amber says. "The nurse who came to pick him up to take him to the NICU was so kind. She reminded me how blessed I truly was."
Once mother and child arrived at the NICU, the team worked quickly to stabilize Emmett on oxygen while calming Amber's fears.
"Hours after the specialists developed a treatment plan, we began to see improvement in his condition," Amber says ."Over the next several days, he began nursing well, and we were able to leave the NICU four days later."
"As a mother, you hope and pray that you deliver a healthy baby," Amber says. "The midwives were there to support me during my birth. No one plans a trip to the NICU, and we will be forever grateful to those who supported him and our family during that time."