A Mother’s Journey at UAB
By Lisa C. Bailey
Liz and Mike Lorbeer with their daughter, Sarah
After only nine months of marriage, Liz Lorbeer convinced her husband, Mike, to make a “big, bold jump” and move to Birmingham from Chicago. Liz’s new job as associate director for content management at UAB’s Lister Hill Library of Health Sciences was the primary motivating factor, although both she and Mike admit that the barbecue was a really big draw. Little did they know that it would be burritos, not barbecue, that would signal an even more significant change in their lives.
“We really wanted children, but we never thought about it, we never planned it,” Liz says. “We said if it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. So I didn’t even have a doctor here. But I did see a nurse practitioner at The Kirklin Clinic for the annual, routine gynecological checkup. And in June of 2007 I said to her, ‘Well, so is it possible to have a child? You don’t see any problems or anything?’ She answered, ‘No, you can have a baby if you want to have a baby.’ I think that was the first time I had ever asked anybody.”The next month Liz began craving beans—as in burritos. “I don’t like burritos, but my husband does,” she says. So when she ordered a burrito while dining out one night, her husband was surprised. “For some reason I really wanted one.”
And the burrito eating continued the rest of that week. Mike’s amazement soon turned to curiosity. “He said to me, ‘You know, you don’t like burritos. Do you think you’re pregnant?’” But Liz insisted that she wasn’t.
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Hear Liz tell about her birth experience at UAB and her plans for helping the Women & Infants Center reach its own due date in this audio slideshow.
Then while getting ready for a trip, Liz and Mike stopped at a dollar store for some supplies. “I bought a one-dollar pregnancy test because we were joking around,” she says. “So at 11:00 at night I took it, and it was positive. Mike was looking for the packaging, calling the 800 number to see how effective they are. And of course, there’s no one at that phone number, especially when you buy it at the dollar store!”
Liz called the Kirklin Clinic the next day. “After I told them I bought it at the dollar store, they said, ‘Just stop right there, go to the store, buy two of them, and spend a little bit more than a dollar.’ I took two more tests. I called Kirklin back and said, ‘Well, I’m pregnant, but I don’t know what to do!’ The woman on the phone was really patient with me to try to figure out how many days or weeks I was pregnant. And then she ended up having me talk to a nurse. So, they were really very good.”
When she called to make her first appointment, Liz says she still didn’t have a doctor. “The woman asked ‘Which doctor?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know … maybe a nice one?’ I thought, ‘Boy, I’m really clueless.’” Liz was assigned to Brian Gleason, M.D., OB/GYN director for UAB PrimeCare, “who is fabulous,” she says. “My first visit to Kirklin as a pregnant woman was just wonderful. People didn’t treat me like I was ignorant. I was still in shock, and I have no family here. I really didn’t know what to expect. They were very good to me.”
Secrets to Success
The lactation counseling services were especially helpful to Liz. “After Sarah was born, I decided to breast feed. It was miserable in the beginning, but the nurses were really supportive. I still call them once a month about something, even though I haven’t been a patient in the hospital since last year. They always help me out. They want me to succeed.”
Liz says her pregnancy was completely normal—nothing life-threatening, nothing that affected her health or Sarah’s. Yet she says was still treated with the utmost care and attention. “You know, everybody has a pregnancy horror story. I didn’t have one! I only have fun little stories,” she says.
As a member of the Faculty Women’s Club, Liz was already active in supporting UAB, but now she has jumped into fund-raising for the new UAB Women & Infants Center in a major way. She is even heading up one of the teams of the By Women For Women Initiative. “I like getting people to donate money,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be a lot of money. A little bit from a lot of people adds up.” (Check out Liz’s team blog at www.lhl.uab.edu/teamsarah to read about her fund-raising efforts.) “I’m really excited about the new hospital and the opportunities for women in Alabama,” she adds.