|Want to feel?she asked. She placed my hands on the belly of a woman who was
nine months pregnant. With her hands, she guided mine. I felt
the baby's head, its back and, finally, a foot. The mother-to-be
smiled from behind her protruding abdomen as I stood in awe. The
baby's kicking startled me, and they both laughed.
As a certified nurse-midwife, Stephanie Denison does a lot with her hands. Her days at Piedmont Women's Health Center are filled with caring for women and infants, and her hands are her tools. The center is equipped with necessary medical equipment, but much of Stephanie's work is done through her powerful sense of touch.
At night, she's home with her husband, Dave, handling her 11-year-old stepson, Daniel, and her 2-year-old daughter, Wendy. Wendy was born just weeks before Stephanie graduated from midwifery school at Texas Tech in May 1995.
Piedmont Women's Health Center is a full scope nurse-midwifery practice and freestanding birth center. For deliveries, Stephanie, or one of the other three midwives, works with a registered nurse to assist women in natural childbirth. The midwives have physician backup available, if necessary, at UNC Hospitals.
Stephanie said her decision to be a midwife grew out of her childhood experiences. When she was eight, her aunt had a baby, and the whole process fascinated Stephanie. Along with that, she said her dad had a way of picking out pregnant animals to bring home as pets; cats and gerbils often gave birth soon after coming into Stephanie's childhood home. After Stephanie received her nursing degree from UNC-Charlotte, she worked as a registered nurse on the OB/GYN floor of a Texas hospital to gain experience before enrolling in midwifery school.
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