This Nurses Week We Thank Colleen – Second Attendant Extraordinaire!

Untitled designThis is Nurses Week! Midwives love nurses. Nurses are the hard working back bone of our health care system. If you or anyone you love has ever accessed medical care, you likely have received excellent, kind care from a nurse. Last year I wrote about the many reasons that midwives love nurses and why you should too. I encourage you to go the Brockville General Hospital’s Facebook page and tell our nurses how they have made a difference in your life. 

This year, we want to pay tribute to one special nurse who doesn’t work in hospitals or doctor’s offices. Colleen is a registered nurse who has focused her career on complex paediatric home care and, for the last five years, attending home births with midwives as a second attendant. 

Colleen is a rare person. She is smart, skilled, compassionate, gentle, hard working, and committed. Colleen rarely takes time off call and treats every birthing family like they are the centre of her world. She never complains (at least not to us!). Colleen is calming and soothing to clients and families when she provides care. She is organized and efficient and makes the work of the midwives easier. She is priceless. We are so grateful to have her as part of our team. 

We invited people who have received care from Colleen to describe her. Here are some of the responses.

“I had the pleasure of having Colleen attend 3 of my births. She arrived just after one birth, just before another birth and was in attendance for a few hours during my last birth. She was not only an incredible help but such a welcome presence in our home. She always had a warm smile and kind voice. I remember her telling me in the kindest voice that I was the only woman she has met that has had 8 babies. Colleen is one of a handful of incredible women I am grateful to have known. Thank you for making 3 of my births extra special.” ~Jill

“When Genia said the words, ‘I’m going to call Colleen,’ I knew that things were getting real! Colleen attended the births of both of my girls. This is a picture of her above, taking her spot in the exact same place on my bedroom floor for both my births. Thank you Colleen for being such a wonderful attendant and for helping me shower and feel a bit normal again after birth. You are so loved!” ~Tara

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“Colleen is one word – amazing. She attended both of my home births for my girls and I couldn’t have wished for a more amazing second attendant. She has this wonderful quality about her that just makes you feel safe and taken care of. She allows you and the midwife to focus on your baby, while she focuses on you and only you. Whether it is helping you in and out of the shower or making you something to eat – she is respectful and so very sweet! It takes a special person to do her job as well as she does. We are extremely lucky to have had Colleen at both of our births!” ~Miranda

“I fondly remember asking at one point during labour how much longer the delivery would take. I’m not exactly a patient person. Colleen was so very gentle, calm and honest in her answer saying, ‘We don’t want to lie to you. We don’t really know how long but you are doing so great!’ Although I wanted to hear, ‘5 more minutes,’ her calm reassurance was enough to keep me going. Colleen’s presence at my home birth will always be remembered and I am so thankful for the care she provided.” ~Jenny”

“Colleen arrived at our house as our daughter entered the world (it was a quick exit). It was wonderful to have her there. While Genia was focused on this new precious life, Colleen was focused on me. While Genia was stitching, Colleen was helping Isla and I with establishing breastfeeding. After that she helped me move about, use the washroom, shower and get comfortable in bed. Her supportive nature and kindness were such a comfort! Colleen was part of the team that made choosing to have a midwife the best decision! Thank you, Colleen!” ~Melinda

“Colleen attended the home birth of my third child in 2015, and I never thanked her afterwards for her compassion, her calm presence, and her patience. She was at my home for a long time as the birth we suspected might be short was a long one after all. At one point, while I was in hard active labour, I saw her sitting down across the room, and it appeared to me that she might be praying. Whether or not I was correct or just imagining this, I remember feeling a flood of deep appreciation that I did not voice at the time, but which is a prominent memory of that birth for me. I am grateful to have such a lovely memory of that birth experience. Certainly, when I some day tell my daughter about her birth, I will be sure to tell her about the kind woman who brought comfort in those moments, both physically, as when she placed blankets on us warmed from the dryer, and also spiritually, by either her prayers, or simply her most serene presence in the room. I am so pleased to have the opportunity to say: Thank you, Colleen! You are a vital part of one of the most memorable days of my life and I will never forget your kindness.” ~Shannon

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“It was wonderful to have Colleen be a part of the birth of my son. I have known Colleen for a couple of years. She is such a wonderful, caring person and an excellent care giver. Colleen is such an encouraging person. It was great to have her at the birth to help bring my little miracle into the world. Thank you for everything you did at the birth of William and for your excellent care of him. ~Melanie

“I had the pleasure of knowing Colleen long before I was pregnant – I used to babysit her kids when I was in high school! Knowing that Colleen is such a kind and gentle person, I was so happy when I realized she might be the second attendant at my birth. It made for a light moment when she arrived at Declan’s birth, when I was already pushing, and we got to laugh about how she didn’t realize it was me she was coming to see! Colleen is such a great part of the generations team and we are lucky to have both her skills and her smile at our births! Thank you so much, Colleen, for all that you do!” ~Cara

“Colleen may have spent hours at my house, but there is only one moment I really remember. I had spent the majority of my labour with my eyes closed, squeezing my partner’s hand through every contraction. The hand I was squeezing was my focus point for hours. At one point I was labouring in the bathroom, leaning heavily on my partner and squeezing his hand with every contraction. For some reason, he had to leave for a few minutes (probably because he was starving after hours constantly by my side) and as another contraction came on, I was at a loss for what to do without my focus point. Colleen, whose arrival I had barely registered, stepped into the bathroom, immediately grabbed my hand, and let me crush her fingers and lean on her through the contraction. I tried to apologize afterwards because I’m not normally one to hug strangers and worried about crushing her hand or knocking her over. But as another contraction started, Colleen just said something along the lines of, ‘I’m fine, do whatever you need to do.’ At those words, I stopped worrying and returned to my own world, focusing on the hand I was squeezing and mostly oblivious to what was going on around me. I so appreciated her reassuring words and strength and that she stepped in to help me through those contractions.

I ended up transferring to the hospital before my son was born (still labouring with my eyes most often closed), so I didn’t even recognize Colleen when I first ran into her at the clinic the following week! However, I had appreciated her presence at our home again when we returned to the house after our son’t birth to find that all signs of labour had been cleaned from the bathroom and living room (thank you!). We also found numbers jotted on the back of a Sunday school paper, which we realized were Colleen’s notes timing my contractions as soon as she arrived at the house from church, all dressed up in her Sunday best! It means so much to us that Colleen and Heather left their families to spend so much time with us the day our son was born. Thank you for going the extra mile to get me through my contractions, clean up the house, and make the day one that we will always remember and treasure. ~Lisa




Genia is a registered midwife and lactation consultant with Generations Midwifery Care. She is also a friend, colleague and admirer of Colleen. You can learn more about them here