By Daniele Nason
“I want to move to Montana someday,” Eric Clark told his new girlfriend Sara in 2013.
Eric had been vacationing in Libby for a few years and had been watching and waiting for the right time to move. In 2014, four months after Eric and Sara got married, they moved to Libby, Montana. Eric started a job at Kootenai River Realty and Sara started work at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center (CPMC) as a nurse in acute care.
The staff at CPMP were cross trained in multiple departments, and Sara soon found herself being trained in Labor and Delivery, alongside her nursing role. In 2016 Sara was asked to teach the prenatal classes for the hospital. At first, she wasn’t too thrilled.
“I didn’t think that anyone would listen to me because I didn’t have any kids of my own. Shure, I had the book knowledge, but not the actual experience,” Sara said.
Fast-forward a couple years, to the winter of 2019, and Sara is now a happily married mother of two beautiful girls, who is also responsible for the scheduling and coordinating of Prenatal classes at CPMC. Sara herself teaches most of the class. Sara and Anita Knapp, RN. worked together to improve, organize and change the department in many ways. They made the prenatal class 100% family friendly, taking out all pictures containing any nudity. Sara also added a few cartoons to the curriculum to lighten the mood for the class. The first day of the class seems to be a favorite, as they do a tour of the labor and delivery department, which is usually one of the first questions asked. There is an Anesthesiologist who comes in to teach about the epidural process of childbirth. There is also a physical therapist that comes to talk to the class about body mechanics both before and after pregnancy. This gives you a better understanding of what kind of changes to expect with your body. A new lactation consultant has also been hired, Morgan Jameson, RN and Lactation Consultant and she helps to teach the lactation portion of the prenatal classes.
Before Sara started working in the Prenatal Class department, classes were scheduled for one to two months out. CPMC now puts out a yearly flyer advertising its Prenatal Class schedule. Sara hands out flyers to the medical providers in town when there is a scheduled class coming. There are also flyers posted at CPMC, Rosauers and Ace, advertising relevant information to the public. So, no matter what time of year a baby is due, if you want to attend a class, you can make it to a one before your due date.
“Postpartum is the favorite part of my work. I love taking care of both the mom and the baby. It’s such a beautiful thing. But that’s just my work. My real job is being a mom, and it’s the best job in the world to me. I wanted to be a mom since I was in the seventh grade and it’s all I dreamed about,” Sara said. “That’s what I love about work. What I love about Libby is the view of the cabinet peaks. You get a different view from anywhere in town. If you take just a three-minute drive in any direction, it’s a completely different view. It’s just so beautiful here, it makes me think about how God created it, every time I look at it, and I am so thankful for everything here.” Sara said as she stands looking out her own window overlooking the Cabinet Mountains.
Sara would like to encourage all moms to attend the Prenatal Classes.
“Just because you’re a second or third-time mom doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a prenatal class. You forget between kids and it’s a nice reminder course for parents. Dads are strongly encouraged to come to the classes.” Sara explains. “We have had men come in the past as well as with their wives, spouses, etc. You are given a booklet to take with you talking about what to expect before, during and after the pregnancy process.”
And the absolute best part, there is free food and snacks provided by the CPMC to those who attend the prenatal classes.
“If you haven’t been there before, the hospital makes delicious food, served in the cafeteria. You don’t think to go there for food, but it’s really pretty great.” Sara explained proudly. “The Prenatal Classes give people a little picture of what to expect. Every person that has come did not regret it and have been very appreciative. There is so much to the classes, so much information to obtain throughout the pregnancy process. When you actually have the baby, even if you only remember 20% of what you learned, you’re still better off than you were before.” Sara said.
If you or anyone that you know are expecting a baby, you can sign up at any medical providers office for the Prenatal Classes at CPMC. Classes are free to the public. You are welcome to bring your significant other with you to learn at your side. The more education you can get, the better chance you are giving yourself at a better delivery, even if the knowledge only helps your piece of mind. No one likes the unexpected at a time when you are expecting.
Eric and Sarah Clark and children pose for a family photo during an interview with The Montanian. Photo by Danielle Nason, The Montanian.