Being pregnant in Grand County can feel like you're on a secluded island.
Just being in the company of someone else who is pregnant too is serendipitous at most. There's no delivery ward here or resident OBGYN practice; there's no prenatal yoga or baby superstore to feel the texture of crib sheets; no mega-maternity store filled with racks of stylish front-paneled jeans.
Oftentimes, a pregnant woman is asked to see her doctor in Steamboat, or Denver or Frisco, and the drive is rationed into pee stops - forged is a familiarity with the Forest Service trailhead restroom on Rabbit Ears Pass, the Empire public restrooms, or out of desperation, behind any tree in the ditch along Ute Pass.
Inevitably for many of Grand County's pregnant ladies, journeys over whichever mountain pass are interrupted by pulling over and frantically opening the door because breakfast is about to come up.
But there is one place pregnant women can find solidarity in Grand County, and that is thanks to one woman, Val Lind.
Providing Grand County's only birthing classes with little compensation, Val Lind has been the one true beacon of support in the county, offering expectant first-time moms and dads crash courses in labor, delivery and the basics of baby care. She even offers her phone number for any questions or concerns as delivery draws nearer.
For 10 years at the Pregnancy Resource Center in Granby, Lind has been conducting five-part series of classes as many as six times a year for groups of up to six expectant mothers and couples.
Nervous moms- and dads-to-be learn about breathing techniques, other calming methods, the stages of labor, the wondrous feats of the female cervix, baby swaddling and soothing techniques and even what to pack for the hospital.
No question asked in class is deemed too ridiculous.
And it's the one place pregnant women and expectant fathers in Grand County can feel in company with others going through the same scary deal.
Many groups stay in touch after their big events.
Lind, of Granby, is expert on the subject, not only for having given birth to her own two children, but for having been at the deliveries of about 600 others, including three out of four of her own grandchildren.
For 21 years as a registered nurse, Lind worked in a small hospital in Nebraska where she "fell in love" with labor and delivery, she said.
Upon moving to Grand County 13 years ago, she continued her work in the field in Frisco on an as-needed basis, and has been conducting the birthing classes in Granby for countless couples and single mothers. She even offers her services as a doula to class participants planning to deliver in hospitals.
What is it you love about labor and delivery?
"Each baby is a miracle and a gift from God in my eyes. Being able to assist a family and to be able to bring that new life into the world is very rewarding."
After witnessing the deliveries of about 600 babies, does anything surprise you anymore?
"Every one is still unique and special. I have pretty much seen every complication you can think of, but I never want to quit learning. They're always coming up with new ways to help women with laboring and having a successful delivery."
Has any particular delivery, besides the births of your own children and grandchildren, been more memorable than the rest?
"A co-worker delivered in Frisco, and there were major complications. It was probably the scariest delivery I'd ever been at living in Grand County."
Did everything turn out O.K.?
"Yes, a happy ending, healthy mommy, healthy baby. That's always the goal."
Do you think we'll ever have deliveries again here in Grand County?
"Ultimately, I would love to see deliveries done in Grand County. The latest statistic I heard is there are about 180 babies delivered to Grand County couples a year. Even if 100 percent of those babies were delivered in Grand County, it still wouldn't make it enough to be financially viable for that service here. Also, a perfectly normal pregnancy can end up needing emergent delivery, the ability to do a C-section in 30 minutes or less, so it would be awfully hard in Grand County to provide that consistently."
In your classes, what are expectant moms and dads most apprehensive about?
"In Grand County specifically, they're afraid whether they're going to make it to where they're going to deliver. And most first-time moms and dads are wondering 'am I going to be able to do this?'"
When teaching, does any part of your class make you red in the face?
"It's never comfortable talking about sex, but that is a tiny piece of it, about trying to induce labor near the due date. And some of the things we talk about, like Kegle exercises... I guess I am a little old-fashioned that way. But I think it's important information for people to know."
What is the value of having these classes in Grand County?
"I definitely think the people who have taken my classes have been very glad they could access them in Grand County. I think the best setting for learning is the multiple-class scenario, in which you can digest what you've learned and return the next time and ask more questions.
"It's a labor of love. I really feel like I can help families have a good birth experience by teaching the classes."