3 generations of GR nurses celebrate Mother’s Day

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Some say nurses are really angels in comfortable shoes, and one West Michigan family has been filling those shoes for nearly 70 years.

Three generations of nurses who not only share the same career, but the same specialty.

It’s pretty rare, but that's the case for Mary Lou Wilkins, Sue Hoekstra and Christina Harms

They all work or have worked in labor and delivery and postpartum at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

“It's just overwhelming! I mean, when I think about it, the fact that we've all done this and all these years 35, 5, and 28, I can't even wrap my head around it,” said Hoesktra.

After nearly 70 years and serving thousands of families between to the three of them, it’s safe to say they all have the nursing gene.

For Mary Lou, the desire to be a caretaker started early.

“We just kind of played house with nursing and then my sister was a nurse also. She went three years ahead of me, so that was an influence also," Wilkins said.

Sue quickly followed in her footsteps, but for Christina, it took 4 years of undergrad and seeing her mom in action to light the spark.

“When I saw her in that role, that nursing role that she was playing for my Grandpa, and advocating for him, I thought, I should maybe look into this,” said Harms.

Today, Mary Lou is happily retired after 28 years in Postpartum, while Sue and Christina spend their working hours bringing babies into the world and setting moms and dads up for success.

“Labor and delivery is so exciting,” said Harms,  “It’s crazy, you think you're going to get to go on a lunch break and then someone comes into the break room and says ' your patient needs to have a baby’ and then you gotta go out there and help them."

“I have them from the moment they have their baby to when I send them out the door. I feel that I have really impacted their life,” said Hoestra.

Over the years, Mary Lou said there have been some pretty big changes in their field, including breast-feeding guidelines, where the babies sleep, how involved the Dads are in the delivery, even that iconic nursing cap.

“It was a distinguishing kind of thing, I guess, it just kind of felt good," said Wilkins.

However, there’s one  things that will always be the same.

Harms said,  “Babies do not care about birth plans. They do not care about birth plans."

“I just love, love babies and the miracle of birth is just a big miracle,” said Wilkins.

Those miracles are said to make up for the tougher times in the hospital, and it’s both happy and sad moments that has helped the three women forge a special bond.

“It's great, I feel very close to my mother, and I consider Christina not only my daughter, but my friend,” said Hoestra.

Harms has two young boys of her own, so the question is: could we expect to see fourth generation in the hospital?

“Currently, they are just singers at dinner time, but I think it would be great,” she said. “I think it would be awesome, I would love for my sons to have that care and compassion."

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