Sullivan manages maternity services and parenting education at The BirthPlace, Santa Monica and uses Urban Zen techniques to help expectant mothers relax.
What makes The BirthPlace, Santa Monica unique?
We want to take care of everything that has anything to do with mom, family and babies. We provide an intensive level of personalized service. We will hold your hand, talk to you every day and keep you as informed as possible on every question you might have. You can get all your birth preparation, infant safety and parenting classes with us. We also have many community resources to assist you even after you have your baby. We take care of everything here. It's one-stop shopping.
What does your job involve?
I have a unique position. Thanks to incredible support from my management team, I have been able to generate a lot of different services for mothers, families and babies at The BirthPlace, Santa Monica. I spend time doing community outreach, providing resources, conducting private tours, coordinating classes and speaking to families who need special attention. Customer service is the biggest part of what I do. If I have had a small part assisting a family to have the most joyous experience in every way possible, that is my moment of truth.
How did you become involved with The BirthPlace, Santa Monica?
In 1981, I started working at Santa Monica Hospital as an orthopaedic staff nurse before I moved to the fertility surgical unit. The BirthPlace opened in 1987 and the following year, after I suffered a back injury, I was offered a part-time position answering phones and signing up people for their childbirth classes. The phone was ringing off the hook and I asked the director if I could add more classes. She agreed, as long as I could find additional instructors. We started adding classes and it took off from there.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I like to have conversations with doctors and patients, listen to community needs and then brainstorm with our management team to come up with solutions such as providing mother/infant support groups, antepartum support groups and anything else the community needs or wants. I love putting together projects. I also love being able to connect with families. If I can help someone feel less panicky or anxious about this wonderful experience so they can start to enjoy their pregnancy, I feel rewarded.
Do you have a personal experience with childbirth that inspires you?
I'm the mother of a 21-year-old daughter and a 40-year-old son. When I had my first child, I was so young and afraid to ask questions. I wish there would have been a service like this. Back then, when you went to your obstetrician, there really was no opportunity to have any discussions. You received little education and no choices. They kept the babies all lined up in the nursery. I remember the nursery nurse came in with my baby boy bundled up in a blanket. I wanted to unwrap him to count his fingers and toes because I had read somewhere that you were supposed to do that, but the nurse told me not to unwrap him. I was scared to death.
How do you use Urban Zen in your job?
Urban Zen is a fabulous program that takes an eastern philosophical approach to healthcare. I've been doing yoga for most of my adult life and I meditate as part of my self-care. When UCLA brought the Urban Zen program to the hospital, I was selected to do the training. I have been able to help expectant mothers, especially the antepartum women who are very isolated in their rooms. These women are used to running families and careers and all of a sudden they have to stay on bed rest for the remainder of their pregnancy. I help them by providing breathing awareness, essential oils, in-bed yoga, music and Reiki, a very calming technique that uses the healing power of energy. A lot of the women find the therapies very helpful, which in return is extremely rewarding for me.
What are your other hobbies and interests?
I love to travel, to garden and to use my creative side. I have a part-time job as an interior design consultant. I helped with some of the design choices that were made when the BirthPlace, Santa Monica was remodeled and continue to help wherever there is a need. I also volunteer on Saturdays at a Santa Monica thrift shop for the homeless. I get to arrange donated goods to make them look beautiful and worth buying, and work on window displays.