Nurse midwives help fast friends create families—quickly

Kristen Farney, RN, and her high school besties are creating a whole new generation of friends.

With eight babies born to five moms in four years, the friends support each other in ways they likely couldn’t imagine when they were teens—from learning to breastfeed to guiding toddlers to love their new brothers and sisters.

“It’s crazy that we’re all in baby mode. When we all get together, it’s a wild time,” said Melinda Douglas, Farney’s friend since grade school.

“We all understand because we’re in the same phase of our lives.”

An inpatient supervisor for Carle Labor & Delivery, Farney is often among the first to know when a friend is pregnant. During National Midwifery Week and every week, they all want Farney’s advice about Carle’s nurse midwives, physicians and other staff. Carle’s nurse midwife practice is the largest in downstate Illinois, with more than 50 years of combined experience.

Farney and her friends like that they see each nurse midwife during their pregnancy so they’re familiar with whoever is on duty when they’re ready to deliver.

“They’re all very down to earth. They have time to talk when I have questions. They’re educated in their field,” Douglas said.

Douglas gave birth to her second daughter just six weeks ago.

“This time I knew more what to expect. (Midwife) Vanessa (Grafton) told me the game plan and made sure I was OK with everything,” she said. “The midwives are all great with following up in the hospital and after we go home.”

At home, 3-year-old Finley is learning to share the spotlight with baby-sister Blake.

“It took a little while. It was a little rough. Finley and her dad are best friends,” Douglas said. “Now Finley loves her baby sister and does a great job as my helper.” 

They’re not the only ones who had to adjust.

In January, roles reversed big time when Farney became the patient instead of the nurse.

“The staff takes amazing care of everyone, but it was hard to turn the nurse in me off,” Farney said, admitting now that she’s a mom, she talks to women in labor differently.

“I don’t tell them anymore that the pain will ease when they get to push. Pushing really just gives you something to do.”

Farney also admits being around babies all the time didn’t prepare her for caring for her now-9-month-old son.

“Cooper is amazing, but I never realized how hard the first couple weeks would be,” Farney said, adding, “I thought maternity leave would be a vacation. There were tears, but we figured it out.”

The friends supporting each other—and the nurse midwives supporting them—agree that’s how it works and how generations of strong friendships thrive.