Caring for families in joy and sorrow: An interview with Stacy Baker, 2015 Employee of the Year
By Kristy Bleizeffer Mar 22, 2016
Stories coming from our Mother and Baby unit are often the most joyous in the hospital. There, on the third floor of the McMurry West Tower, families grow and are made complete almost every day.
But not always.
“For moms whose babies don’t make it, for whatever reason, the only moments they get with their babies are in the hospital,” said Stacy Baker, a labor and delivery nurse at Wyoming Medical Center for 12 ½ years. “We just thought that we could do more for these families and give them something that they will be able to look back on to acknowledge those moments with their babies.”
Baker and a co-worker revamped a hospital program to provide small remembrances to families that suffer infant loss – either from babies who are still born or pass away shortly after delivery. For these efforts, Baker’s colleagues named her the hospital’s 2015 Employee of the Year.
Below, Baker explains the program for families suffering with infant loss and why, nearly 15 years ago, she made the decision to become a labor and delivery nurse.
Tell us about the remembrance program Mother and Baby has implemented for families who suffer the loss of an infant.
Up on Labor and Delivery, we do have infant loss from time to time – babies who pass away or who are stillborn. A coworker and I helped rebuild a program to give parents more memories to take home with them. A lot of times, those moments in Mother and Baby are the only minutes they will get with their babies.
We make it so they can get plaster footprints, and most recently we got a couple of women who make little dresses out of wedding gowns for them. We also have a volunteer photographer, affiliated with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, who shoots beautiful professional portraits with these families. For those parents, that’s all they have. It’s the only memories they have left of their babies. And we wanted to make sure they had as much as we could give them.
Where did the idea come from?
Just from working on Labor and Delivery and caring for parents who suffered from these losses. We’ve always had a program on the floor, but the nurse who really worked with the program retired. Some of the things fell to the way side. We did a few things for these parents, but it was really hard on everyone on the floor.
A coworker and I went to a conference and from there, we just wanted to raise awareness on our floor to train everybody in caring for families with infant losses.
Was there a particular case that made you want to reinvigorate the program?
It was really just a general feeling of wanting to help these families. Being a mom myself and knowing all the mementos I got to leave the hospital with after giving birth to my children.
What’s it like for the floor in the event of an infant loss?
It’s very hard for everyone – on the parents and on the nurses and everyone who works on the floor. Whether it’s a mom that comes in and she found out in her doctor’s office that her baby has passed away, or when babies are delivered but they don’t make it for whatever reason. It’s hard on the parents because that is not what you are expecting. You are expecting a perfect experience. It’s also hard on the nurses because you want your patient to go home with their baby.
Why did you become a nurse?
Fifteen years ago, I had my first daughter. Through that experience, I knew that that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be with families when they had new babies. I wanted to help them get through labor – you know, it’s hard. So that was my goal after I had my daughter.
Did you have your children at Wyoming Medical Center?
My first one was born in Laramie and the last three were here at Wyoming Medical Center.
Why did you choose to work here?
My mom was a nurse, too, and she worked at Wyoming Medical Center. We lived in Casper, and it was almost a given that that’s where you work if you are a nurse in Casper.
How do you feel about working here?
I love my job. I love being able to be with new parents as they go through their birth experience, and to go through that joy of welcoming a new child into their lives. It’s amazing to be able to be there for them.
I think there are amazing people who work here, whether they are from respiratory or in the kitchen or on the floors as nurses. You feel vested in the work that you do because you get to know all the people from departments throughout the hospital. Management is very good and I think they do a good job of listening and trying to do what they can for you. This is a good place to work, and we are a good family.
What makes coming to work worthwhile?
I love the patients I get to work with. My coworkers are amazing. It’s a great group of people up there on labor and delivery. It’s a job that you wake up to and you enjoy coming to work.
How does it feel to be nominated for Employee of the Month, and then to be chosen Employee of the Year?
Honestly, it was kind of funny because I heard that I won from one of my coworkers. She had gone to one of our employee forums and they had announced it. She texted me and said, “Congratulations on Employee of the Year!”
I said, “What?” I knew I had been Employee of the Month a while back, but I had no idea about this award.
What does it mean to you that you were nominated by your peers?
It’s a very humbling honor and very humbling to know that my coworkers thought enough of me to nominate me. I honestly felt: “I’m just doing my job! It’s not just me, my coworkers are there with me.”
We help each other be who we are and become the nurses that we are. I’m very thankful for all of that. I just felt like saying thank you to everybody else, because it’s all because of them too.