Nurse HERO Spotlight: Bri & Courtney
Left to right: Kyron, Sherrie, Dawson and Jon Trede
On the night of July 24, my wife, Sherrie, was admitted to the labor and delivery unit at Nebraska Medicine – Nebraska Medical Center. We were expecting the birth of our second child and were anxiously awaiting his arrival. My wife’s contractions started at home earlier that day, but we never imagined what was going to happen over the next 24 hours.
As Sherrie’s labor stretched into Friday morning, our nurse, Bri, knew exactly how to help both of us. She wasn’t afraid to speak up – even to the medical residents. Bri bent over backwards for us during her shift. She was comforting and always positive – even when it was hard to be. Bri was willing to work with us on different positions and took the time to sit down and get to know us. She asked about our family and even opened up about her own. As the hours stretched on, Bri never waivered in her demeanor and care. She was always friendly and genuinely wanted what was best for us. As her shift came to a close on Friday morning, Bri made sure we would have another wonderful nurse taking care of us. She also promised to be back that night to check on our new arrival.
At this point, Sherrie had been in the hospital for over 12 hours without any major progress in her labor. Obviously, we were disappointed. On top of that, we had lost Bri. But, our new nurse, Courtney, put us at ease immediately. We knew we were (again) in amazing hands.
For the next 12 hours, Courtney was there for us through the highs and lows. In Sherrie’s case, it seemed like good news was immediately followed with bad news. Courtney also took the time to get to know us. We will never forget her calm demeanor and how she was able to brainstorm new ideas that no one else had thought of. She was just as determined as us to see Sherrie through this delivery.
As the hours stretched by, Sherrie and I were both starting to lose hope that she’d be able to have a vaginal delivery. But, as the evening approached, we felt like the worst was behind us and that we would finally get to meet our little boy. At this point, Courtney’s shift was over. (She should have gone home.) But instead, she wanted to stay with us. Meanwhile, Bri had arrived to check in on us. Both nurses were now in the room. The personal connection we made with Courtney and Bri was unbelievable.
As Sherrie started to push, the baby’s heartbeat started to drop a little too low for everyone’s comfort level. Karen Carlson, MD was the obstetrician/gynecologist on-call that day and realized Sherrie needed some assistance to get the baby delivered. Finally, after 24 hours in the hospital, in addition to the time Sherrie was in labor at home, we welcomed our little boy, Dawson, into the world on Saturday, July 25.
It was without a doubt, one of the greatest moments of our lives and one we’ll cherish forever. We finally felt like the whole ordeal was over with and that recovery could begin. But, five minutes later, we received the scare of our lives. Sherrie started complaining that the room was starting to spin. Within seconds, as Sherrie faded in and out of consciousness, the delivery room became instantly full of doctors. As I watched in disbelief, Sherrie was in the process of losing 15 units of blood. Words can’t express the horror I felt. There was a chance we might lose her.As I scanned the room, even with the chaos going on, the entire staff had a game plan and worked as a team. I remember looking up, seeing a physician’s nametag with a “stroke” label and realizing the severity of the moment. I was holding my son, thinking he may never get to know his mother. After what seemed like an eternity, I made the decision to take Dawson with me into the room next door. At that point, I knew Sherrie would want me to focus on Dawson. It was one of the worst moments in my entire life – saying goodbye to my wife, knowing I may never see her alive again.
As I scanned the room, even with the chaos going on, the entire staff had a game plan and worked as a team. I remember looking up, seeing a physician’s nametag with a “stroke” label and realizing the severity of the moment. I was holding my son, thinking he may never get to know his mother. After what seemed like an eternity, I made the decision to take Dawson with me into the room next door. At that point, I knew Sherrie would want me to focus on Dawson. It was one of the worst moments in my entire life – saying goodbye to my wife, knowing I may never see her alive again.
As staff members ran in and out of the room, a hospital chaplain named Art Ullrich arrived. As seconds went by (which felt like hours), Art began praying for Sherrie and her recovery. Afterwards, I received a call from Sherrie’s parents asking where to park at the hospital. Obviously, I was no use to them, so Art volunteered to go down and meet them in the parking garage. The decision was made to move the baby and I to a room in the postpartum wing, so our family would have more room to gather. Art told us he would personally give us updates on Sherrie’s progress.
After about an hour, Art informed us Sherrie was stabilized and the blood loss was almost under control. Shortly after, Dr. Carlson and maternal-fetal medicine specialist Paul Tomich, MD, gave us a more detailed update. They were taking Sherrie down to radiology to see if they could permanently stop the bleeding. Seeing Sherrie sedated and hooked up to machines was rough, but Dr. Tomich was very comforting and explained what was about to happen.
Diagnostic radiologist Sushama Kunnathil, MD was able to stop Sherrie’s bleeding. Dr. Kunnathil played a huge role in getting Sherrie through this ordeal. Drs. Tomich and Carlson came up again to give us an update and share the good news. Sherrie was then transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where they could monitor her vitals.
The nurses in the ICU, along with Bri, were incredible to Sherrie as she began to recover. Bri knew how important it was to Sherrie for Dawson to receive breast milk, so Bri took the initiative to help pump Sherrie. As I walked back to the room, I was greeted by both Bri and Courtney with hugs and tears in their eyes. Courtney ended up staying hours after her shift was over because she wanted to make sure Sherrie was okay.
It was difficult not having Dawson in the same room as Sherrie, so the staff worked together to get us all moved up to the ICU. This is something I appreciated so much. It helped make Sherrie’s recovery easier. The next day, I was given hugs by countless nurses and staff members – many whom I had never met before. Their reassuring words will never be forgotten.
As Sherrie recovered in the ICU those next few days, we were amazed by the level of care she was receiving from the doctors and nurses. Courtney was back at work on the day that Sherrie was moved down to postpartum. Once again, she took amazing care of her.
We cannot thank the entire staff at Nebraska Medicine enough. They were calm under pressure and knew exactly what to do at the right moment. They worked as a team to save Sherrie’s life. They were also incredibly compassionate throughout our entire stay. They cried with us, hugged us and supported us in ways that we never could have imagined.
We have to give special thanks to Bri and Courtney. They both went above and beyond for our family. They helped us through some of the darkest moments we’ve ever faced. The level of care they provided was unquestionably amazing.
To the hospital chaplain who helped us that night – thank you for taking care of our family and keeping us updated. It wasn’t until months afterwards, that we learned July 25 was actually Art’s last night on the job. After nearly nine years of working at Nebraska Medicine, he’s now retired. We feel honored to be one of the final families he helped.
As for Dr. Carlson, things were working in our favor when she happened to be the on-call doctor that weekend. Dr. Carlson was instrumental in saving Sherrie’s life. She stayed calm during the entire ordeal and took the time to check on Sherrie multiple times throughout our stay.
To Dr. Kunnathil, who stopped Sherrie’s bleeding – THANK YOU! As our doula pointed out afterwards, we were lucky to be cared for in a hospital where the right people could be there for us exactly when we needed them.
EVERY person there that night played a vital role in saving Sherrie’s life. Your love, care and support was extraordinary. Thank you for helping us fulfill our dream of having a happy and healthy baby boy. We’ll be forever grateful for all you did to take care of Sherrie and our family. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
This story was published with consent from Nebraska Medicine.