Paper names Sarita Reeves-Miramontes, R.N., one of Wyoming's top nurses
By Kristy Bleizeffer May 11, 2017
Sarita Reeves-Miramontes is 5 feet, 2 inches tall. Soaking wet, she might weight 115 pounds – but it’s unlikely.
She doesn’t look like the type who could muster physical control over too many adults, much less a 6-foot, 4-inch dad-to-be watching his wife get her first epidural.
“I could see him getting that ‘whoa’ look in his eye. I asked, ‘Are you OK? Bend your knees,’” said Reeves-Miramontes, an obstetrics nurse at Wyoming Medical Center since 2014. The Army taught her that locked knees meant he was going down. She reached out and grabbed hold.
“He went plop. I was able guide him down so he didn’t hurt himself. He had to stay sitting down for the delivery, but he made it.”
Much more than her ability to calm down families in tough situations, Reeves-Miramontes is known as a nurse who cares deeply about everyone in the labor room. People write Facebook posts about her and sometimes request her when they come in on the night shift.
On Sunday, the Casper Star-Tribune named Reeves one of Wyoming’s top nurses in its special section, “Celebrate Nurses.” The newspaper publishes the section each year to celebrate National Nurses Week 2017, and it selects the finalists based on community nominations. A panel of newspaper staff and healthcare professionals pick the winners. All three of the top nurses this year are from Wyoming Medical Center. (Click to read interview from fellow winners Jennifer Gallagher and Rachelle Allamaras Donaldson.)
How long have you been a nurse?
Since 2009. I had a baby the last year of nursing school. Then, I went up to Shepherd of The Valley and I was there for around five years.
What made you come to Wyoming Medical Center?
This is always kind of what I wanted to do I think. I love geriatrics, but this is kind of where I knew and hoped that I could be. My friend Cindy worked here. Our boys play baseball together. When there was an opening on this unit, she said that I needed to apply. So I did, and here I am. That was in 2014.
What is it about mothers and babies that made you choose obstetrics?
I just love babies; I have four boys of my own – ages 6, 8, 10 and 13.
I love the whole process. Who can say that they have witnessed parents meeting their children for the first time? You cannot get anything better than that, I do not think.
Like I said, geriatrics was absolutely amazing, but that was a totally different end of the spectrum. I did not think I could love anything as much as that, but this is pretty close.
That is interesting. In geriatrics, you see a lot of end-of-life care. In OB, you’re doing beginning-of-life care.
Yes. With geriatrics I just loved that long-term rapport that you develop with those patients. They become family, and of course how can you not love them?
Here, it is a little bit trickier because sometimes you walk in on someone who has been laboring half way, or you are at the beginning and you are not going to see the end. That part is tough. Sometimes you want to work 24 hours because, when you start something, you just need to know how the baby looks, how much it weighed, etc. That part is a little tough on this side. If I am not here the next night to find out the end result, I will call the nurse or text and see how they did. When you are worried about someone, you need to know.
Seems like you take your work home.
Absolutely. I think you always do. Truly, you build this rapport , especially in OB. I think you have to be able to gain that rapport and trust with that patient so quickly because we are in those private parts. It makes for a tough long day. For me, it is nice to go in there and to build that rapport quickly and to get to know the family. It is just a whole different dynamic on this side.
What do you enjoy most?
I love that you can get that patient’s trust so quickly. They are depending on you, and when they come in natural (childbirth), it’s satisfying to help them get control of themselves and calm down. For me, that is pretty awesome to be able to look at them and tell them, “You are not going to die” and to just breathe and focus. Even with the family members, I just always want to include everybody in that room to make them all feel important. It is a birthday party. For grandmas, grandpas, everyone. You cannot get a better job, I think.
I remember when I first started, I’d helped with more than 100 deliveries before I stopped crying. I would just bawl, and then I would want to take pictures of them. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t the family member, but I was thankful just to be a part of it. I think my favorite part is seeing those parents respond to meeting their baby.
What’s the common response?
Every reaction is different. Sometimes they cry, and sometimes they just look, and sometimes it is a boy and it was supposed to be a girl and who knows how they’ll react.
Every dad is different too. Sometimes they are super, super quiet and other times they are super, super worried about the mom. The mom is more relaxed than the dad. Sometimes, when the mom is getting that epidural, they lock their knees. I am an old Army girl, and I know you do not lock your knees, you could go down. In the labor and delivery room, if the dad falls down, he’s going to have stay down until we finish the epidural.
You are former Army?
I went in straight out of high school on the delayed entry program since I was 17. I knew that I just was not quite ready for college. I stayed in from 2000 to 2004, and my unit was the 91 Bravo. I was in San Antonio for my AIT (Advanced Individual Training), and I did my basic in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I was stationed in Fort Stewart, Georgia, for four years.
Did you deploy?
No. Our unit actually was what they call a rapid deployment unit. We had all the big tanks, and I actually drove one. It was this little peanut girl in this big tank. They would look at me and say, “What are you doing driving that thing?”
How did that train you for working in a hospital?
That was kind of a question my manager Kristi Keller asked me in my interview. The Army taught me so many things. It is nice that you can use that team command that teaches you to how to be a good team player.
That is one of the coolest things here. I am still new enough at this job that it gives me anxiety. Even when you have a good baby, there are so many things that can go wrong it is amazing to me how many times it goes right. From the mom bringing that baby into the world, after cooking it for so long, up to the delivery, it is nice to know that I have a team. The night crew is so awesome. I never have to worry or feel like I am alone. There is the chain of command at this hospital, and you are never alone. We depend on each other here.
Did your own birthing experience inspire you to be an OB nurse?
It is funny you should say that. When I got hired, I was a little emotional. There was a nurse that was not nice, hurt my feelings and made me cry. And that’s what I remember most about the delivery of that child. When I got hired, I remembered saying that I did not want someone else to ever remember what I had to.
Birth is a special occasion. It is something that you never forget. And you want it to be special for those mothers and families. I always try to remember: This is someone’s mom, this is someone’s daughter. How would I want someone to treat my family?
So, somebody you probably work with nominated you for this award. How does that make you feel?
It is crazy. I work nights; I do not like to call attention to myself. So, this is very humbling and surreal. It is also exciting and unbelievable. It is just crazy.
I’m not on Facebook, but my brother showed me something someone posted once on one of those rants and raves sites. I’d had a terrible, terrible day. It was the first infant demise that I had, and I thought, “I’m not sure I can do this.” Geriatrics was different. To be there and be by someone’s side instead of letting them pass by themselves was an honor. But to be on the side of a new baby not making it, it was almost too overwhelming for me. Then, my brother showed me that someone I had taken care had made a post about me on Facebook.
There were like over 165 likes on it, and all of these comments were just so sweet and kind. I knew I was in the right spot, and I was to just get it together. It was the coolest Christmas present I got my first year here.
I think when we have those days, and we are in doubt, something keeps popping up that it is going to be OK. You can do this, just stay strong.