Anna Gomez's face lit up when she walked into the mother-baby post-partum room during a recent tour of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center's (CRDAMC) labor and delivery facilities.

"Wow," she said, sharing a smile with her husband, Pvt. Andrew Gomez, as the two wrapped their eyes around the spacious room nearly three times bigger than the room where, several years ago, the two had their first baby.

Anna, who is due in October, was impressed.

"This room by itself brings me so much happiness because I know that I'm not only going to be comfortable, but my husband will be as well. This is a big upgrade, a very big upgrade," she said, comparing the new hospital's mother-baby recovery room to the one in the old hospital, a difference of more than 220 sq. ft. "Seeing this has made me more excited to deliver the baby."

Nodding in agreement was her husband, Andrew, who won't be in the delivery room with his wife that day, but will be spending time in mother-baby room after their baby is born.

"I'll definitely be comfortable here," said Private Gomez, eyeing the large couch next to the expansive fourth floor window in the private rooms. "The room at the old hospital was so cramped and tiny, and there was a little couch in the corner. This is great."


Private rooms spacious, comfortable

The "aesthetically pleasing" environment also caught the attention of John Larino and his wife, Jennifer, who is due August 12. The first-time dad was confident that his wife would be both comfortable and treated well.

"It's impressive," said the retired staff sergeant following the weekly tour showcasing the labor and delivery and mother-baby units. "This is going to be great for my in-laws because we can all huddle around and not be too cramped."

Pvt. Shawna Ennis also was "oohing and ahhing" during the tour.

"I feel very fortunate that I am having my baby here," said the first-time mom, impressed with the mother-baby units' calming colors and modern look. "I am extremely happy with both my care and this very comfortable environment."

Ennis also praised the CRDAMC staff, which she said, adds to her comfort equation.

"I was lost the other day and was still learning my way around the hospital when a sergeant asked me if I needed any help," said Ennis. "She went out of her way to show me around the hospital. It made me feel really good."

But the tour wasn't the only event elevating the comfort level in the young private's journey into motherhood.

Private Ennis, along with more than 115 expectant mothers, were the honorees during a recent USO Special Delivery Baby Shower that was hosted in partnership with the What to Expect Foundation.
Ennis, who is due September 5, said the shower festivities were not only fun, but they helped calm the nerves of the mother-to-be. What she enjoyed most, though, was networking with other Fort Hood mothers.

"We exchanged phone numbers and have since gone out together a few times," she said, adding that bonding with other shower attendees has been an unexpected gift as the new mother approaches her due date. "The whole baby shower experience was great and made me more excited to have my baby."

That was good news for Fort Hood USO director Isabel Hubbard.

"That's why we have these types of events," Hubbard said. "It's really just our way of spoiling and pampering them."

What to Expect Foundation founder and author Heidi Murkoff, who earlier visited with expectant moms in CRDAMC's Labor and Delivery Department. During the two-hour event, Murkoff served as a surrogate cheerleader, sharing motherhood wisdom with the women.

"Being pregnant is never easy even under the best of circumstances, and when you are so far from family and friends without that network of support, you may feel especially alone," said Murkoff about today's military moms. "With dad often deploying during those pivotal and emotional times, military moms deserve and need all the support they get."


CRDAMC's helpful staff adds to comfort

One of those deployment dads attending the shower with his wife was Staff Sgt. Robert Garza who was deployed when his other children were born.

"This is the first time I'll actually be able to enjoy time with my wife and be there for her," he said about their upcoming November event. "It feels really good to be here, and I'm especially excited about having the baby in the new hospital."

Victoria Humes, who is due November 3, had nothing but praise for the CRDAMC labor and delivery staff and its facilities.

"I really enjoyed my experience at the old hospital, and I'm hoping this will be the same," she said, adding the CRDAMC staff was wonderful in 2010 when her newborn son spent a month in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. "I've been very pleased with the quality of care here and am excited about having my baby at the new hospital."

It didn't matter to Spc. Ricarda McQuirter whether her newborn was born at the old CRDAMC or at the new hospital, which opened for business April 3. What boosted her confidence level was the trust she has in having a baby in a military hospital.

"I feel more comfortable with having my baby here," said the first-time mother-to-be who is due around Thanksgiving.

That feeling also was echoed by the Gomezes.

"I have a lot of faith in the military and in the people who will deliver my baby. They did great with me during my firstborn," said Anna. "My life is in their hands, and I'm completely happy with that.