Ellen Krinick Porto

A Labor of Love

For forty years Ellen Krinick Porto has been helping to birth babies as a Labor and Delivery RNC with Stamford Hospital. When asked how many babies she has helped to deliver, Ellen’s response is “A small New England town?”

Not having an exact number, it’s safe to say it’s thousands. The other half of this equation is Ellen’s brilliant sense of humor. Audiences have delighted in Ellen’s performances throughout Fairfield County.

Originally from Hamden, CT, Ellen’s mother was a nurse. “She’s the most amazing person I know” beams Ellen as she talks about her mom. “I grew up with it, it was a natural choice.”

The acting, dancing, theatre and comedy came from her dad. Ellen was fortunate enough to have a forward-thinking theater program while in high school. They were studying Uta Hagen in ninth grade.

Ellen’s first two years of nursing were in Oncology. Questioning her career choice, Ellen met Suzanne Ortez, a midwife, while at Hartford Hospital in 1984. Ellen was inspired. She applied and was accepted to Emory University in Atlanta for their midwifery program. They recommended that she consider a year in Labor and Delivery for some experience beforehand. She did and she never left. Ellen had found her place in the world.

Ellen’s first show at The Ethel Kweskin Theater was Thurber’s Carnival, directed by Tony Sherer (known for his role in Trading Places with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd.) That was around 1984. Since then she has graced the stage numerous times most recently as Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret. Her other favorite roles include Charity and Love Letters.

“There’s an art form in the physicality of labor” explains Ellen. “I enjoy keeping the mood light, funny – in one of life’s most precious moments. I like to joke that there’s a two-drink minimum and an entertainment tax added to the bill.” That sense of humor along with her incredible work ethic and deep compassion has brought great comfort to so many families.

Ellen is retiring at the end of this month. Twelve to fourteen-hour shifts on your feet, barely time to go to the bathroom, much less eat, takes a toll on your body. Ellen will miss her nurse sisterhood. They are a family. She will greatly miss the people, creativity, love and friendship. 

What’s next for Ellen? More theater for sure. Ellen has never done a drama. She has done many comedies, dark comedies and deep, rich characters for musicals, but never a true dramatic role. The challenge of balancing work and weekends is no longer an obstacle. We will see more of Ellen on stage.

But the true gift of retirement for Ellen is time dedicated as co-chair for Perinatal Bereavement. They provide social outreach, emotional, physical support to families who have lost a child or a stillborn. Ellen explains, “If you lose a spouse, you’re a widow. If you lose your parents, you’re an orphan. That’s natural. There’s no word for when you lose a child.” This program is near and dear to her heart.

After forty years it does not come as surprise for Ellen to find herself working next to an anesthesiologist that she helped to deliver. And more often she finds herself delivering babies of babies she delivered.

A special moment for Ellen was one time, while taking her son to the doctor, a woman sitting across in the waiting room recognized her. Ellen had assisted in her difficult delivery. The woman told Ellen that she too became a nurse because of her and that experience.

A mother, wife, nurse, actor, friend. The many pieces that make up the whole of Ellen… she’s hysterically funny and truly one of the most thoughtful, compassionate and kind people you will ever meet. The world needs more Ellens.

“There’s an art form in the physicality of labor”

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