When Meisha Daniels learned she was pregnant in September of 2019, she was elated. Baby Kelvin would be her first child, and she looked forward to the journey ahead. Together with her fiancé, Kelvin Galloway Jr., Meisha began preparing to welcome her “Little Man.”
For Meisha’s first two trimesters, things went smoothly. She and Kelvin attended her regular obstetrical appointments with David Dixon, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and North Florida Women’s Care, and tracked Little Man’s progress as he grew and grew and grew.
As she approached her third trimester, it became very clear to Meisha that her journey to motherhood would be filled with more twists and turns than she ever could have imagined. As she prepared the nursery, filled baby Kelvin’s closet with tiny clothes and looked forward to her baby shower, communities across the world began experiencing the life-changing impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Suddenly, all the plans she’d made looked very different.
“At first, I was devastated,” confided Meisha. “I didn’t know what to expect.”
Meisha was thrown another curve ball when, at about 30 weeks, she began having contractions. Surprised and concerned, she called Dr. Dixon. He advised her to go to Labor & Delivery Triage in the Tallahassee Memorial Alexander D. Brickler, MD Women’s Pavilion, which is staffed 24/7 by certified nurse midwives from TMH’s Anderson-Brickler Midwifery. When she arrived, any nervousness Meisha had about going to the hospital in the midst of the pandemic quickly dissipated.
“From the front desk, to the ladies in Triage, everyone was so on top of things,” said Meisha. “They checked my temperature before I even entered the building and ensured I wasn’t having any COVID-related symptoms. Everyone was wearing a mask and there were social distancing measures in place. They made me feel completely comfortable.”
In Triage, Meisha was seen by Heather Stroh, CNM, certified nurse midwife at TMH. Heather identified that Meisha was experiencing preterm labor, which can lead to premature birth, and prescribed her medications to attempt to stop her labor and help baby Kelvin’s lungs develop early. She also provided extensive education on how to prevent the contractions from continuing and advised Meisha to rest as much as possible at home.
“Heather is amazing,” Meisha said. “Kelvin and I felt so hopeless when we thought he was coming early. Heather immediately knew what to do to save my pregnancy and keep Little Man from being premature. She was truly an angel.”
“The goal is to give the babies more time to cook,” said Heather. “Or at least to help their lungs develop in case of a premature birth. We always try to sit down with every mom who comes into Triage to provide ample education and let them know they can talk to us and ask all of their questions. No one is standing with their hand on the door ready to leave; we’re there to listen and help.”
To protect the health and safety of families like Meisha’s and the colleagues who care for them, TMH limited visitation to the Women’s Pavilion early in the pandemic, allowing each mom to be accompanied by one support person. While certified nurse midwives, physicians, nurses and other caretakers in the Women’s Pavilion have always played a key role in patients’ birth stories, they’ve been more involved than ever amid these restrictions.
“Before the pandemic, moms would come in with all of their safe people surrounding them,” said Heather. “Now, we’re filling that role. We sit with patients; we hold their hands. We educate and advocate for them, we talk to their family members on the phone and we assure them our entire team is there for them.”
Over the weeks that followed Meisha’s initial trip to TMH, determined to make his entrance into the world, baby Kelvin brought Meisha back to Triage several times before her Cesarean section (C-section) delivery on June 1. When the day arrived, she was grateful to have her fiancé Kelvin by her side.
“I was very thankful Kelvin was able to come in for the delivery,” Meisha said. “Throughout the whole process, it’s been me and him. It’s been a bonding experience for us. He’s my right-hand man.”
While Meisha was being prepped for her C-section and Kelvin was changing into his personal protective equipment (PPE) in preparation for entering the operating room (OR), Meisha had a right-hand woman too – labor and delivery nurse, Kitty Draa, RN.
“She came in like a starburst; her spirit was immediately like a glow in the room,” remembered Meisha. “Before Kelvin came in, I was getting nervous and held Nurse Kitty’s hand so hard. She consoled me and made sure I knew everything that was happening. We became very close in the procedure.”
At 5:34 p.m., Kelvin Ira Galloway officially made his debut into the world, weighing 9 pounds, 3 ounces. Meisha immediately started crying; this was the moment she’d been waiting for.
“I always think back on the moment he arrived,” Meisha recalled. “I went through a lot with my pregnancy. Through the pandemic and my health scares, we got him here safe. To see him screaming and crying, to see him come out so strong, truly touched my heart. We did it.”
While Meisha’s care team completed her procedure, Kitty took Kelvin and Little Man to the recovery room to initiate skin-to-skin, the practice of placing baby chest to chest with a parent immediately after birth to promote bonding.
“It was an honor to be there for him while Meisha recovered,” shared Kelvin. “It was a divine experience.”
Kelvin’s second job was to FaceTime the whole family to spread the word that Little Man had arrived. While Meisha originally intended to have her mom, dad and sister all visit the hospital following baby Kelvin’s birth, she said she wouldn’t change the way things worked out for the world.
“It was a beautiful experience for our little family. Just the three of us in the room, we were it,” reflected Meisha. “We needed that time to ourselves to get to know him and learn from the nurses and doctors what to do once we got home.”
Since returning home, that uninterrupted bonding time has continued for Meisha and baby Kelvin. Outside of Meisha’s mom, who has been a tremendous support, Meisha, Kelvin and Little Man have stayed in touch with family from a distance. Baby Kelvin continues to grow into a strong, healthy boy and Meisha is enjoying every moment of getting to know his little personality.
For other expecting moms nervous about delivery during these uncertain times, Meisha shared these words of advice.
“Enjoy every moment of being pregnant and focus on preparing for this new, beautiful journey you are about to embark on. There will always be things you can’t control. Trust that everything will work out just fine, especially if you’re delivering at TMH, stay positive and ask for help when you need it. If I can do it, you can too.”
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