FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Petty Officer 2nd Class Luis Aguilar, a Navy Reserve Sailor and a contractor on Fort Irwin, and his wife, Barbie, said they were unsure what to expect for a birthing experience when they enrolled at Weed Army Community Hospital recently.
After watching multiple online videos of parents sharing hospital horror stories from other facilities, Barbie said she was preparing herself for the worst.
However, after attending Weed ACH’s Baby Expo April 9, here, the first-time parents said they found peace of mind in their decision to enroll.
“Coming here…it’s actually really nice, really helpful, and overall I’m really happy we’re here,” Luis said.
Capt. Regina Manges, a labor and delivery nurse and the officer in charge of the event, said the goal was to bring awareness to families about the resources available for pregnant beneficiaries and new parents at Fort Irwin.
“Right now we have over 200 pregnant moms and we have a lot of Soldiers and family members that [permanent change of station] in and out of here,” Manges said. “A lot of these are first time moms and first duty stations and they don’t even know what’s available to them period, so … it’s super important for us to keep up with resources on post.”
Resources available at the Baby Expo included departments from within the hospital such as Women’s Health Clinic, Mother Baby Unit, anesthesia, pharmacy, and nutrition care, entities from the Fort Irwin community, and a representative from a hospital in the area where newborns can be sent if they require a higher level of care.
Representatives from each resource set up a table with information and personnel available to answer questions.
Staff from the Mother Baby Unit also offered tours of the department and the birthing suites.
“There’s a lot of anxiety wrapped around what people think military hospitals provide and so we are very fortunate at Fort Irwin to have such an amazing hospital,” Manges said. “Our facilities are very top-notch and our rooms are beautiful and well laid out to try to give them the most homeopathic environment and the delivery that they’re looking for.”
Barbie, who is 32 weeks pregnant, and Luis toured the labor and delivery suites and had the opportunity to ask questions to the staff, which was helpful, Barbie said.
“Being able to ask how long they keep you and when does the timer actually start was very nice,” she said. “It was also nice seeing how spacious [the room] was and how comfortable it looks for my husband as far as sleeping and everything.”
The security of the Mother Baby Unit made the Aguilars feel more comfortable as well, Luis said.
“I thought it was nice that they put a tag on the baby, so [the baby is] tracked everywhere in the hospital …it feels really secure,” Luis said. “If the baby for some reason has to leave the room, you’re invited to come with them and be there with the baby 24/7, so for me that was awesome just hearing that.”
More than 100 people attended the Baby Expo, including Luis and Barbie who walked away with information and a better understanding of what to expect from their birthing experience at Weed ACH.
“That was my main concern, just her being okay with everything and it sounds like she’s very happy,” Luis said, reiterating the peace of mind that came from attending the event. “That’s what we were looking for and we have it.”