It was January 2007 when Tiffany Gear “stumbled” into a big life decision.
“We had just gone through some fertility treatments that were unsuccessful when we were called by a family friend who knew we wanted to start a family,” Tiffany said.
The friend suggested adoption. And while Tiffany and her husband, Lee, were open to the idea, the process turned out to be much more difficult than they imagined.
“We had two failed adoption attempts where we had been matched with a birth parent,” she said. “In the first situation, we even met the baby and were planning to bring that baby home when the birth mom changed her mind.”
After being left broken-hearted, the Gears felt they needed to move on. But then another opportunity to adopt presented itself and while they were hesitant at first, in the end, Tiffany and Lee found their son.
A trip to Regions Hospital Birth Center
“We had only been in communication with the birth mom’s friend for about six weeks before his due date,” Tiffany said. “We didn’t even know where the birth mom was planning to deliver until that friend called us saying that she was going into labor.”
It was just after midnight that that call came. The friend told the Gears that the birth would be happening at Regions Hospital. So Tiffany and Lee, who were living in Duluth at the time, got in their car and headed to St. Paul in the middle of the night.
When they arrived at Regions in the wee hours of the morning, Tiffany says she didn’t know what to expect.
“While we were in the waiting room, one of the nurses came to us and said, ‘We’re trying really hard to get you your own room,’” Tiffany recalled, still shocked and touched by the effort. “I walked in expecting to be a visitor, but I wasn’t treated that way. Not once. Not from the moment we walked in Regions’ door.”
As soon as the birth mother began pushing, Tiffany and Lee were hurried into the room right across the hall. And then, just six minutes after Jeremiah was born, Tiffany was holding him.
“It was amazing. The first thing the nurse said was, ‘Here you go, Mom.’ And she put this baby into my arms,” Tiffany remembered. “For her to say that to me was a gift. She was the first one to call me a mom. It was something that I’d been wanting for so long.”
Tiffany and Lee had a few minutes to revel in the moment with their new baby boy.
“I looked at him and I saw these big, beautiful brown eyes and this jet black hair. He was this baby that looked nothing like me. But he was mine,” Tiffany said smiling.
Regions nurses make a lasting impression
With her during that time were Molly, Heather, Helen and a bunch of other nurses whose names Tiffany can’t remember. But she remembers how they made her feel.
“The whole time there was not a question about who we were. There wasn’t any sense of awkwardness at all. It was absolutely natural for them to treat us like Jeremiah’s mom and dad,” she said. “They had no idea our history, so to them it might have just been another day with a few unique circumstances. But they treated it with such gentleness and kindness and sensitivity and joy. It just enhanced our experience so much.”
Molly Hoff, RN, was one of the nurses who made this lasting impact on the Gears as she helped prepare Jeremiah for his trip home.
“Molly brought Jeremiah back into the room and sat with us,” Tiffany recalled. “She said, ‘You know, we don’t see this very often and we don’t ever really get to know the story. Do you mind telling me your story?’”
Tiffany shared everything, from the failed fertility treatments to the adoptions that had fallen through. It was a beautiful, yet heartbreaking story.
“She sat and she cried with me. She hugged me. And she thanked me for sharing,” Tiffany remembered. “Time after time we were blown away by how gracious, kind and supportive everyone at Regions was.”
Molly says that’s the kind of compassionate care she and her colleagues strive to provide for all patients and their families – no matter the structure.
“Regions doesn’t decide what a family is. As a nurse in the Birth Center, I feel very privileged and lucky to be a part of the very precious and intimate snippets of time that each and every family spends here,” Molly said.
Inspiring a career in nursing
The role that Molly and her fellow nurses have played in Tiffany’s life hasn’t been limited to those fond memories made in the birth center leading up to when the Gears brought their baby boy home. It’s extended much further.
“When I was tending to a minutes-old Jerimiah, I distinctly remember looking over at my nurse, Heather, and watching how she was doing her job. And it was at that moment that I thought, ‘Oh, I have to be a nurse,’” Tiffany said.
She had finished classes to become a certified nursing assistant at that time, but that experience made Tiffany know she wanted more. She has now graduated from nursing school. And in June 2016, she started working as a nurse in the Emergency Department at Regions.
“Up until I started at Regions, I don’t know that I had ever worked with people where it felt more like a family than a business. But it does here. And because we treat each other like family, it spills over into how we treat our patients.”
When Jeremiah was placed into Tiffany’s arms more than a decade ago, a family and a career were born. For Tiffany, it’s been the best of both worlds.