For Sue Matthews of Longmont, every birth she has been involved with has been touching and memorable.
And it's been a lot of births.
Matthews estimates she has been part of more than 3,000 births in her 24 years as an obstetrics nurse, the past 10 at the BirthPlace at Longmont United Hospital.
"I bond with every family I work with to help bring their baby into the world," she said. "Every birth is poignant for me. It is so rewarding."
Obstetrics nurses provide more than just medical care for new mothers and their babies. They work hard to banish any fear women in labor may have, provide pain relief and offer a calm and comforting touch. Nurses also answer questions from soon-to-be parents and support the new families.
"We have couples who come in and have gone to every childbirth class and read all the books, and other couples who are clueless about what will happen," Matthews said. "I am always so pleased when I can help a frightened couple understand what is happening and eliminate their fear."
New mom Angelica Clauss knew what to expect. She gave birth to her second son, Jonathon, on Monday morning. He joins 2-year-old Dominick and dad Randy to round out the Longmont family.
"My nurses have been so positive and happy," Clauss said Monday. "They were really helpful to me."
Randy, excited about his new son, said he realized that he is on the hook for a Mother's Day celebration. "A big celebration," he said.
"With chocolate," emphasized Angelica.
Experienced parents Lisa and Brian Chapman of Firestone are getting used to life with daughter Abigail, who was born Sunday. Abigail joins Rachael, 12, and Blake, 5, in the family.
"I think I'm still trying to take it all in," said Lisa.
Her nurses have helped smooth the family's transition, Lisa said.
"The nurses here have been really helpful to us," she said. "Even when it's your third child, there's always something new to learn."
Helping the new mom and family is important, said Polly Tiff of Longmont, who has worked at Longmont United Hospital for 24 years and has been an OB nurse for 25 years.
"I chose obstetrics nursing because I think the birth of a baby is just magical, and I wanted to be a part of that magical experience," Tiff said. "This is so important. It's really the birth of a family."
Sometimes a family gets started easily, and sometimes there is a surprise. Early in her nursing career, Tiff was aiding a mother delivering one baby -- then found that the woman was carrying twins.
"She was really surprised!" Tiff said. "But thank goodness for ultrasounds. Now that surprise doesn't happen anymore."
However, both nurses have had experiences with women who didn't know they were pregnant until they were giving birth.
"You have to be prepared for just about anything in this job," Tiff said.
Some nurses say they regard their work more as a privilege than a job.
"I love the miracle of life, babies and new moms," said Kim Fuhrman of Longmont, a 20-year OB nurse and 10-year LUH employee. "I love being a part of this miracle every single day. It's a gift to me."
"We do this so often that once in a while we forget how truly wonderful birth is," added BirthPlace nursing supervisor Bobbi Buchanan, who oversees LUH's staff of 45 obstetrics nurses. "But we are always reminded when we see the parents' faces light up when they see their new baby."