December 13, 2008 in City

1,000 babies and counting

Deaconess Women’s Clinic midwife says each infant still a bundle of joy
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

Zibby Merritt and her newborn son, Tyler, gather with midwife Kathy Bentley, right, Dec. 12 at Deaconess Medical Center nine hours after the boy was born. Tyler is the 1,000th baby delivered by Bentley.
(Full-size photo)

Kathy Bentley has done it a thousand times. Yet there’s just something about delivering babies that never gets old, says the Deaconess Women’s Clinic midwife.

Early Friday morning it was Tyler Joseph Merritt, who was the 1,000th baby delivered by Bentley.

The number is considered a midwife milestone. These special nurses play an important role for many new moms in Spokane. During pregnancy, they help women take care of themselves and the babies growing in their wombs. They coach mothers through arduous labor. Then they help moms heal.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Tyler’s mom, Zibby Merritt, who works as a labor and delivery nurse at Deaconess Medical Center. In the case of Tyler, he tried to exit the birth canal a little crooked. With Bentley’s help and plenty of pushing and perseverance by Merritt, “he straightened out and here we are.”

“I think what we as midwives bring is an ability to make sure we do what’s best for the mother, too,” said Bentley, who has been midwife at the clinic in the West Central Neighborhood for 11 years. In most cases midwives deliver babies without a physician present, although a specialist is always on call in case of complications.

Baby Tyler is the third boy born to Zibby and Micky Merritt of Spokane. His big brothers are Benjamin, 7, and William, 5.

Peaceful, quiet and with a twinkle in his eyes, the 8-pound, 2-ounce infant seemed to be rehearsing just hours after birth for his starring role in the crèche at St. Aloysius Church on Tuesday evening.

Declared Bentley, with the sort of wonderment as if it were her first delivery, not her 1,000th, “Isn’t he just beautiful?”

The clinic was founded years ago to help women living in poverty have healthier children and take better care of themselves. The program has been a Spokane success story as evidenced by Bentley’s achievement and its growing base of patients from all walks of life.

She is quick to credit her co-workers, midwives Catherine Shields and Lauren Armstrong. “Together we feel we have made a difference.”

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