In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the UAB Women & Infants Center (WIC), we asked some women who delivered babies or received care at the WIC to share their experiences. UAB Medicine physical therapist Robin Riddle answers a few questions about her delivery and the care and compassion she received before and after.
What is your connection with UAB?
UAB is like a second home to me! I am a 2007 graduate of UAB’s Physical Therapy program, I’ve been working at Spain Rehabilitation for almost 10 years, and I even met my husband here! I feel proud to be associated in so many ways with UAB.
What was your initial perception of UAB WIC?
At the time, even though I worked at UAB, all I knew of the newly erected Women and Infants Center was that it blocked the downtown view from Spain Rehab where I worked. I don’t think I had ever given it another thought. To be honest, it wasn’t the first place I thought of when I thought about where to have a baby in Birmingham.
Why did you choose to deliver your babies at the UAB WIC?
I can vividly remember sitting down on my bed by the window that June morning in 2011. The view was one of UAB and downtown Birmingham. The whole city was enveloped in a grey fog, but all I could see was the two pink lines on the pregnancy test. My heart was racing, and my palms were so sweaty! I knew as much about babies and pregnancy as I did about quantum mechanics, and I was terrified!
Up until that moment I had not thought much about obstetricians, and since I had recently moved to Birmingham, I did not have one. My decision to choose UAB was honestly a choice of convenience and practicality. I had no clue I had to go to so many appointments while being pregnant. In trying to figure out how I would get to all of them while still being able to take care of my own patients and without draining my days off, I decided it would be best to use the UAB WIC, since I could walk across the street to get there. Plus, one of my colleagues had just had her baby there, and she had nothing but good things to say. What mattered most to me was being at a hospital with expert medical professionals and all the specialties available 24/7/365, just in case something went wrong. Safety was most important! Even though not many of my friends delivered here at that time, I decided it was a good choice for me. I had no clue just how fantastic it was! Knowing what I know now, I cannot imagine having any of my babies anywhere else.
How would you describe your prenatal care experience?
My co-worker’s OB was Brian Gleason, MD, and she had the number to his nurse. I made the call to Daphne one afternoon in between seeing patients. I talked quietly and nervously because I didn’t want anyone at work to hear me. Even though I was a stranger to Daphne, her voice was filled with genuine joy that filled my heart as I told her I was expecting my first baby. She quickly found a spot to squeeze me in to see Dr. Gleason and answered a few of my most pressing questions. I remember feeling the butterflies in my stomach as my husband and I arrived for that first appointment. We got an ultrasound first, and the technician was so calm and kind, which helped settle my nerves. Next, we met Dr. Gleason and Daphne for the first time, and I don’t know how else to describe them except I felt like I was being welcomed as a new member of the family! I quickly began to look forward to every single visit with them, because I knew I would be met with a warm smile and was with an expert team that cared about my well-being as a patient but also as a person. My questions were answered without judgment, I was given practical, evidence-based recommendations, and we shared quite a few laughs!
How would you describe your birth experience?
It was a long 30 hours and not how I had planned it, but I’m thankful that the medical team implemented a Plan B to help my son come into the world while keeping us both safe! My first son was delivered close to midnight via Cesarean section, and I realized firsthand how critical it was to have so many brilliant people so readily available on my team at all hours. My anesthesiologist was a rock star and I don’t know what I would have done without him – it was an emergency C-section, and I had labored for so long and was already exhausted, so it was an emotional experience. He walked me step by step through everything to expect as it was happening, and he helped settle my nerves about having such an unexpected and major surgery while being awake! Not only did he do his main job of keeping me breathing and without pain, he also cared about my experience as a human being, and that is something I will never forget and am so thankful for.
I don’t think the word “exhaustion” is a strong enough word for how a first-time mom feels after giving birth. I was spent. Nevertheless, I remember taking that first walk down the hallway gently leaning on my baby’s rolling bassinet for a bit of extra support, and all I could think about was how I was ready to do it all over again.
My experience with that first birth at UAB WIC was so special that it helped me make the decision to try for more babies an easy one. I knew we would have the most excellent care, and we went on to have 3 more babies at UAB. I remember feeling so important, so well cared for, so informed with each pregnancy and delivery.
Do you have anything else you want to share about UAB WIC?
Being a practical girl, I don’t need much fluff. I’m thankful everything went well, and my deliveries were uncomplicated for the most part, and I have four healthy children. But what surprised me most was that in addition to UAB WIC having the most advanced medical facilities and interventions, it also had the sweet extras that I didn’t realize I needed – the people. I wondered my whole pregnancy if I would be missing something for not having my baby where other people had their babies. The resounding answer was “no”. I missed out on nothing and gained so much more than I ever could have expected – a new family – by birth and by choice. I’m proud and thankful to be part of the family. Thank you, Dr. Gleason and the entire team at UAB WIC for exceeding my expectations and giving me the sweetest memories of a precious chapter in my life.
Click here to learn more about the UAB Women & Infants Center.