FORT BENNING, GA – Capt. Iris Evans catches babies as a staff midwife at Fort Benning Martin Army Community Hospital. She started as chief in the Women’s Health Clinic in 2017. “The midwifery experience is more personal than getting a regular OB (obstetrician). A lot of the midwives here we take a panel of patients and deliver our own panel of patients.
“So someone who we’ve seen from when they first get their very first ultrasound, we see to their delivery. We come in on our own personal time to deliver those patients.”
Evans’ commitment to her patients span every appointment during the nine months of pregnancy to six weeks after birth. “I like to be able to follow my patients all the way through even if they go to the OR (operating room). I’m in the OR either as first assistant or I’m at their head telling them everything is okay, they are almost done, you are about to see your baby.”
As a former Labor & Delivery (L&D) Nurse, her frustration at not being able to actually deliver the babies spurred Evans to get double board certified in Georgetown University’s Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Program. “I used to get upset because you push with the patient, you spend all the time with the patient, you’re taking care of the patient for the full entire time of their admission… but I don’t get the benefit of delivering the baby.”
Armed with her master’s degree, Evans not only delivers babies, she educates the parents. “They trust me because I’ve taught them through their whole entire pregnancy. We teach so you can make informed decisions and have autonomy in your care.
“I explain things from top to bottom. If they have anemia, all the different things that can happen. We’ll talk about different positions or methods to relieve pain during the birthing experience. The longest time of labor is from 0-4 cm. That latent labor, that early labor is the hardest and I think education kind of helps deal with that process.”
As an L&D Nurse and now a Midwife, Evans says her big heart helps her be whatever her patients need her to be. “I’m a happy go lucky person and I’m always smiling. If they need me to be the jokester, that’s what I am. If they need me to cry with them, that’s what I am. I’m not really good with death, but it’s better for me to be involved in it than someone who doesn’t have any kind of heart.”
It was Evans’ unfailing dedication to any patient in need and her passion for photography that helped a mother and father grieve the devastating loss of their baby recently. “I just met her after she found out her baby had passed away. She didn’t want a male provider and only a male provider was on that weekend. I decided to come in and do her checks and take care of her and do her delivery. I came in at midnight to do her different interventions.”
Usually when a baby is stillborn, BMACH is able to offer the services of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. The national organization has a network of volunteers who photograph the emotional hours after as parents see and hold and say goodbye to their baby. But because General Order #7 was in effect, no one could get on Fort Benning without a military ID.
The couple accepted Evans’ offer to photograph the birth and give them some lasting memories of their baby. “They said yes, we want to be able to look back on this moment. She (the mother) reminded me that even a stillborn baby is someone’s baby. She wanted you to hold the baby and refer to the baby by the baby’s name.
“We have little outfits, so another nurse helped me out. She stayed after her shift just like I did. It wasn’t just me, it was the whole nursing staff that tried to make the mother’s experience a little less painful. I took a few photos with the baby in a bassinet, in different outfits. I took some candids as they held the baby and spent time with the baby. So that was no different from doing a regular baby shoot.”