“Beautiful Baby, Ugly Placenta” – with Andrew Rosenstock

Andrew Rosenstock joins High Risk Birth Stories to share the story of his wife’s second pregnancy. While they were first receiving care from a midwife, Andrew and his wife switched to maternal fetal medicine care after a subchorionic hematoma and other complications were detected. He explains their experience with CVS testing, placental mesenchymal dysplasia, and more.

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Dr. Fox: Welcome to “High Risk Birth Stories” brought to you by the creators of the “Healthful Woman” podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Nathan Fox. “High Risk Birth Stories” is a podcast designed to give you, the listener, a window into the life-changing experiences of pregnancy, fertility, and childbirth. Andrew, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for coming in.
Andrew: Well, thanks for having me, excited to be here. Actually, a little nervous, I feel like I’m talking to the Joe Rogan of women’s health.
Dr. Fox: Well, all right, I’ll take it. I will take it. I guess better Joe Rogan than Seth Rogen. So you reached out to me and you sent me the email and said, “Hey, I want to tell our story.” And I was a part of that story so I know who you guys are. And this isn’t the first time that a dad has done this. But it is not as typical. So what brought you to do that? I’m curious.
Andrew: I think it’s a good story. I think we’re just regular people. I’m just a regular dude. My wife, she’s awesome. But we’re just regular people and we had an interesting story, spoiler alert, thank God it’s a great outcome. But it’s an interesting story that I think can shed light on what regular, normal people can sometimes go through that nobody might even know. This is the first time where either of us are really saying over the story.
Dr. Fox: To family, friends, whoever, I mean, they know you had a baby, everything’s good, but the whole…we’ll get into it, it was not something you were sharing with people either in real-time or afterwards?
Andrew: Right. In real-time, just about no one. And then afterwards, you know, a few people, like personally just, “Oh, this kid is my miracle baby.” And maybe going through some of the details, but actually telling over the whole story, this is the first time.
Dr. Fox: So we’re talking about the birth of Gabriel. And he is now I guess two, two and a half, right?
Andrew: Yeah, two and a bit.
Dr. Fox: Wow. So he is pre-pandemic.
Andrew: Yes.
Dr. Fox: Excellent. How has he been enjoying the pandemic? So he’s two and a half, is he wearing a mask, and a face shield, and a helmet, and a body armor?
Andrew: And enjoying life. He doesn’t know there’s a pandemic.
Dr. Fox: So take us back. So he was born in April of 2019, so take us back to 2018, either at the beginning of the pregnancy or before the pregnancy. Tell us about you and Rachel and where you are, your family, and what your story is starting that pregnancy.
Andrew: Okay, so, maybe I’ll take you back a little bit before. We got married in 2016. We were young. We were excited…
Dr. Fox: What’s your definition of young? How young were you guys?
Andrew: Oh, this is really young, 22.
Dr. Fox: I was 21 when I got married. So there you go, not young enough.
Andrew: You had me beat.
Dr. Fox: What?
Andrew: You had me beat.
Dr. Fox: It’s good to get married young. It’s all good. All right, so you got married young…
Andrew: And we were excited to start a family right away and thankfully, we were blessed and that worked out. Well, about a week before our first anniversary, we had our first. So that’s Aiden. He was born in August of 2017. So maybe about a year later, decided to try building the family, and similar to Aiden, we’re lucky that no struggles with getting pregnant, everything is going smooth, everything’s…
Dr. Fox: So Rachel’s pregnant, everything is going well. With Aiden, with your first pregnancy, also a smooth pregnancy, delivery, everything went okay?
Andrew: Aiden was…yeah.
Dr. Fox: Where did you guys deliver Aiden, like what hospital? Is it Pascack, I think in Jersey?
Andrew: It was in Jersey.
Dr. Fox: In Jersey. And what was the doctors you were seeing? It was a midwife group, yes?
Andrew: A midwife group. So as listeners on the podcast know, you’re allowed to jump around a little bit.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. And we did that.
Andrew: And we did that for insurance reasons and then bad feeling about that provider. We ended up on a group of midwives. They were great. We love them. No problems with them. Everything was as good as could’ve asked for.
Dr. Fox: Did you ever think you guys, that you would end up with midwives versus doctors for the first birth? Was that something that Rachel was like seeking out because she was maybe a little bit less interventional, or more naturalistic, or whatever it was? Or did it just sort of work out that way, just, you know, by chance?
Andrew: Kind of worked out that way. So my mom now is a midwife. At the time she was… My mom is like in this world. You should have her on the podcast. She’s in this world. So growing up, she was first a doula. Then she was a labor delivery nurse. She’s a lactation consultant. And now she’s a midwife.
Dr. Fox: So that I did not know. I’m learning that for the first time now. That’s cool.
Andrew: I’ve been more in that midwife thing, the midwife delivering me. So I was more in that world. I think Rachel was open to it. We didn’t start off with midwives but we ended up there and that was an option the whole time and that’s where we ended up.
Dr. Fox: Got it. And everything went great, a very good experience, and that’s where you were going to get your care for your second pregnancy. Right?
Andrew: And we started with them, yeah.
Dr. Fox: Got it. Okay.
Andrew: So, yeah, right. We got the positive pregnancy test, we scheduled the appointment, you know, they tell you to come in week six, whatever it was. We go in, heartbeat, regular appointment, you’re not going to do much there. Right? But then maybe a couple of weeks later, Rachel has some bleeding, some spotting, so she wants to go back in. So she scheduled an appointment with the midwives, go back in, and the midwife there sees a second sack, or a vanishing twin. That’s the first time we scan… This is early, this is week eight. So she wants to scan for viability scanning. So we do that at one of the local radiology places, go for a viability scan. So that’s…the next week, the midwife calls back, got the results. There’s no vanishing twin, but there’s a hematoma.
Dr. Fox: Okay. And when you had the ultrasound, there’s no one there who gave you any results, meaning they said, they did an ultrasound, you go home, and then the midwife just called you with the results.
Andrew: Yeah.
Dr. Fox: Got it. So no one spoke to you at the time.
Andrew: Had we been introduced to these podcasts we would’ve known more about subchorionic hematomas, but at the time, the midwives were very nervous about it. We’re like high risk of miscarriage, really giving us the scare.
Dr. Fox: Was she still bleeding?
Andrew: I don’t think so, no. So they want to do a follow-up scan on that. So the next week we go to somebody else. So the midwives are under a doctor. So we’re going to that doctor’s office, they’re going to do their own scan, not the generic radiology.
Dr. Fox: Got it.
Andrew: So his scan, the results are the hematoma’s still there, maybe slightly decreased.
Dr. Fox: Did he give you any messaging about it? Did he say, “I’m worried, I’m not worried,” or just, “This is the size,” and that’s it?
Andrew: Maybe a little bit less worried than the midwives made it seem, but still like, “We’re going to keep an eye on this. We’re going to keep seeing the size.” He said that it does look like it decreased, so that’s a good sign.
Dr. Fox: Okay, got it. So you got some good news.
Andrew: Yeah.
Dr. Fox: All right, feeling a little better.
Andrew: See, that’s why like the early part of this pregnancy finally reaching diagnosis was just a roller coaster of emotions. First, we think there’s the vanishing sack, and then, you know, that’s a whole boat of emotions there. And then, oh, but then we’ve got to move on from those emotions, and now we have this one where, oh, no, you do have a viable pregnancy, but we’ve got to keep an eye on it because we’ve got that hematoma. So like it was evolving early and then we just kept going from one diagnosis to another. It was keeping us on our toes.
Dr. Fox: Okay.
Andrew: Fine. So then, now we’re at week 11, go back to the midwife, he says we’re going to keep monitoring the hematoma and we do just the standard genetic screening. That’s where it all starts. A week later, I remember this day, we get the results back from…the midwife gets the results back. She calls Rachel like, “Urgent, call me back.” This is a big deal. We had the scanning…the screening had elevated hCG levels. She’s got a high risk of Down syndrome. That’s it, she says, “We’re going into Englewood, there’s this great doctor there, Dr. Rebarber, and he’s going to do the CVS or the amnio. You’re going in, you’re going in.” So she was, pressuring, “You’re going.” She was awesome in that. Like she knows Dr. Rebarber’s wife and she called and then she made…
Dr. Fox: Yeah. He’s married to a midwife.
Andrew: Right. So she pulled all her strings to get us into Englewood that day because he was in Englewood that afternoon. He’s like, “You’re going in. He’s going to see you today. He’s going to do it today.” So we show up to the hospital, and everything slowed. First of all, you show up to the hospital, everything grinds to a halt.
Dr. Fox: Absolutely.
Andrew: But either way, once we finally get through all of the hospital stuff, and we meet Dr. Rebarber and his small team there, everything is like, “Whoa, okay, okay, slow down, slow down. Let’s talk about it. Let’s discuss what it is. Let’s bring you in, meet the genetic counselor.” And it’s like a completely different style that anyone has been cared by. MFM knows that’s how you’re treated. So we go, we meet the genetic counselor, making the diagrams, the numbers, and everything. I spoke to my rabbi, I spoke to everyone, and like we decided we’re not doing the amnio, the CVS today. We’re not doing it today.
Dr. Fox: Right. Because the baby looked normal.
Andrew: Yeah, the baby did look normal. You know, all the information we had and everything we had gathered, we’re like, “You know, well, let’s hold off on that for now. Let’s see what happens.” Maybe I should give a shout-out. One of the sonographers, Mrs. Mints [SP] is a family friend of my wife and she like stuck out her neck for us because she knows the family, she knows the background.
Dr. Fox: Shout out to Dena. Hi, Dena, if you’re listening.
Andrew: So she really, like, you know, stepped on the genetic counselor’s toes maybe a little bit for us to be like, you know, if it were my daughter, this is what I would say because she knew us, she knew our family, knew our background, everything like that.
Dr. Fox: Well, I think what happens is when you get these screening tests, particularly when it’s a blood test, yes, when the hormone levels are out of whack, when they’re abnormal, it can mean a genetic abnormality. But it could also mean something else. Right, it doesn’t always mean a genetic abnormality. And so when we have these situations, when the hormones are out of whack, but the baby looks perfect, and the placenta looks a little strange, right, it could just be, well, the hormones are out of whack because there’s something with the placenta, which is not the baby. And so you have to make these decisions, are we going to do testing for genetic conditions? But at that time of pregnancy, the way to test is you have to stick a needle in the placenta, right, because that’s what a CVS is. And if you think there’s a problem with the placenta, and like there’s a hematoma or whatever as we thought at the time, it may cause problems rather than help you. And so you have some time. All right, let’s wait a month, see how it looks, and you can do an amnio if you need to do genetic testing, which is a month later and you’ll have, again, more information, maybe more blood tests, maybe some… How’s the baby looking? And you can sort of make those decisions. It’s not always like abnormal screening, you need to do an invasive test because, again, like you said, you have to slow down and look at the whole picture. You’ve got to look at the whole situation to make that decision. So you didn’t do the CVS obviously in that day, and you came back. And we were just looking at the baby and the placenta.
Andrew: Right, I remember. So towards the end of the visit over there in Englewood, so my wife’s on the table getting…everyone’s looking, and then I walked, and Dr. Rebarber had come down the hall and I’m walking down the hall with him. As we walk into the rooms, it’s like I’m walking into the room. He looks at the screen, he’s like, “Wait, let me take a look at that. What’s with that placenta?” We had seen this placenta, four, five other people had already seen it. But Dr. Rebarber walks in and right away he’s like, “Wait, let me see that.” And then he, like you said, quickly he’s like, “Oh, no, no, no, we’re not doing the CVS today.”
Dr. Fox: Right, yeah. Because I remember at the time, so I wasn’t there that day obviously, but I went back. The impression was there’s something going on with the placenta. It wasn’t exactly clear at the time what it was that was going on. It’s hard to make it that early in the pregnancy, but this looked to be something more placental. Plus, you guys are young, very low-risk for genetic conditions to begin with. So at the time, we thought the odds are that whatever test that was abnormal, and the blood work was related to this placenta because the placenta looks abnormal, the baby looks normal, so you’re going to put your money on the placenta being the issue, not the baby in that circumstance. Okay, good decision, Andre, not to do the CVS that day. We support it.
Andrew: Yeah, we were very thankful. As the story played out, we were like, “Yeah, well, that turned out to be seemingly the right choice.”
Dr. Fox: So how did it play out?
Andrew: Okay, so then Dr. Rebarber says, “All right, let’s keep an eye on it. Come back in two weeks back here to Englewood.” So we come back here in two weeks and they tell us, “Oh, actually, Dr. Rebarber’s not in today. There’s this other fellow. He’s great too. And his name is Dr. Fox.”
Dr. Fox: Ah, okay.
Andrew: So that’s when we met. First time, my first thought when I saw him I was, “Hey, he looks like Paul O’Neill.”
Dr. Fox: Paul O’Neill?
Andrew: You never got that?
Dr. Fox: Really? No, I’ve never got that. Didn’t he have curly hair?
Andrew: Yeah, well.
Dr. Fox: All right. I’ll take it.
Andrew: Yeah.
Dr. Fox: Paul O’Neill is a great baseball player. I’ll absolutely take it. Okay.
Andrew: That was my initial reaction. That’s what I thought and I thought it every time since.
Dr. Fox: That’s pretty cool.
Andrew: You were cool that day too. Like Dr. Rebarber measured, we looked at it, and I think at the visit, you said, “It looks like it might be a molar component in the pregnancy. Let’s keep an eye on it. Let’s come back in two weeks.” Similar thing, which is going to be a theme of this whole pregnancy was just look at it and come back in two weeks. On the way home from the hospital, so 15 minutes out the door, we get a call from you, “Oh, we looked at it, looked at it with a colleague, it’s something else most likely.” And that’s when, you know, you guys dropped the bomb on us. “It looks like a placental mesenchymal dysplasia.” And you explained to us what that is, and how serious it could be, and we’ve got to keep an eye out for it. So at that point, we scheduled another appointment in Englewood for two weeks from then.
Dr. Fox: Right. And I wanted to see you myself. I said, “Come on down there.” I’m pretty sure.
Andrew: I’m pretty sure the next visit we saw Dr. Rebarber in Englewood or both. Because I remember that next visit. So obviously, okay, those next two weeks were very high-strung, emotional two weeks. You obviously break the first rule which is you go and Google it. But if you don’t Google it, you’re not even trying to research that. So you break the rule, you know you’re breaking the rule, but you Google it. And there’s not a lot out there. You’re not going to see a lot on placental mesenchymal dysplasia on the internet.
Dr. Fox: So it’s interesting, so on our end of the story, you know, it’s a very rare placental condition. I mean, it’s known, it’s described. And it has a lot of overlapping features with what you mentioned before, this molar pregnancy. But we didn’t really think it was a molar pregnancy because, you know, by that time usually there’d be a problem with the baby, the baby will look abnormal. They typically look abnormal with a molar pregnancy. So with a placenta that looks like that, and the baby looks normal, you know, the way we work is we gather together. So, you know, I’m there and I’m looking at the pictures. And I’ll email everybody, say, you know, in our group, not everyone on earth. I’ll email everyone in our group and say, “All right, take a look at these pictures, what do you think? Do you think it’s this, do you think it’s that?” And everyone goes back and forth on it. And collectively we said, “Yeah, we really think it’s much less likely to be molar and much more likely to be this, even though it’s pretty rare.” And so the reason it’s hard for me to remember necessarily who saw you at every appointment is because all of us saw the pictures every two weeks. Because every time you guys would come back, we would sort of say, “All right, let’s look this week.” And all of us would get up and look, you know, look together from wherever we were. And so it’s almost like each one of us was seeing you guys every couple of weeks because it’s really interesting. And it’s sort of also not entirely clear. It’s not something you see every day. And it does make a difference for what we’re going to do with the pregnancy and what the prognosis is.
Andrew: Right, yeah, that’s always a thing. You know, you feel like you have a team and you also feel like you’re part of the team with MFM. So that’s good.
Dr. Fox: You’re on the New York Yankees. I’m a Cubs fan. So what are you going to do?
Andrew: Thanks for Rizzo.
Dr. Fox: Thanks for taking… We lost everybody. So what’s the difference? So at that point, we’re pretty confident with the diagnosis. And when we were explaining to you what are the possible consequences, right, in terms of the pregnancy, it could affect the baby, preterm birth, like all these things, what was it like on your end? Were you guys were very optimistic? Were you very pessimistic? Was it like an anvil had hit you? You know, what part of that sort of resonated the most? I’m sure it was mixed emotions obviously.
Andrew: Right. So again, to this point, we’re just talking about the placenta, but the baby’s there too. And baby was looking good…
Dr. Fox: The baby’s good.
Andrew: …the whole time, so that’s good. But, if you do your Google research, which you shouldn’t, but if you do, a lot of the case studies will say [inaudible 00:16:42] week 29, fetal demise. It’s like just abrupt, and even late in pregnancy. So, throughout, however good the baby was looking, we wouldn’t feel that full confidence of like, “Oh, we’re good now,” because that possibility of a fetal demise later and sudden was always there. So yeah, that was there every day of the pregnancy, just like that concern of this could come to an abrupt end.
Dr. Fox: Did it affect you guys day-to-day? I mean, did it really weigh heavily on you guys? I mean, you’re a young couple. You have a child, you have a baby at home. And you’re busy, right? But was it like every day you wake up with this blanket of fear over you, or was it just something you had in the back of your mind but you’re taking your days one at a time?
Andrew: So I saw this saying recently like, there are two kinds of people in the world, some that think every ailment is going to be their final one and this is the one that’s finally going to get them, and some people who are never concerned about anything. I’m messing it up, but it’s that idea. And they usually get married. So that’s us.
Dr. Fox: So who’s whom?
Andrew: My wife was worried every day and I was like, “We’re going to be fine. It’s going to be fine. It’s going to be fine.” But my wife was like, every day, and like to her credit, she did everything she can to make sure her diet was the best it could be. And like everything to give this baby the best chance it can have. Yeah, it was definitely every single day.
Dr. Fox: Okay, was there anything that made it better? Like did advancing through the pregnancy make it better because things kept going well or did it make it worse because you thought that like it’s coming? So for her, you obviously are…not a care in the world. It’s all good.
Andrew: No, I mean, obviously I cared and I was emotionally invested, but like I just…you know, we approach things differently.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. Okay, I know maybe couples who are in the same circumstance with that. But did it get worse for her over the course of the pregnancy or better, would you say?
Andrew: Every visit would be, placenta looks funny, kid looks great, and you feel a little bit better about it. Then you go home, you Google again, you get the same results you got last time because there’s not much out there. And then it’s like, yeah, but there’s still that. So it was up and down. There were definitely days where we felt better about it and then days where just the realization of what we’re dealing with kind of came back.
Dr. Fox: Right. Now ultimately you made a decision to switch practices entirely and to move your care to us in our New York City practice where we deliver babies. In Englewood, we’re doing ultrasounds, but we don’t deliver in Englewood. So what made you decide to switch, and then number two, what was that like, switching practices?
Andrew: This is why I remember clearly that it was Dr. Rebarber because we come back two weeks later after we get the phone call from you on the way home, and it’s Dr. Rebarber in. And like he was super serious. He was like, “This is for real, you got to come over to the city, you got to meet the team, you got to be part of the team.” This is where I remember like afterwards with my wife, we were talking about it, I was like, “Dr. Rebarber was intense today, like he was serious.” And we were like, “Well, I think this is serious. This is intense.” He made it clear to us that if you want us to care for you, you’re going to have to move over and join the practice over here in the city. So he made it clear and we listened. We moved over to the city, zero regrets. You got to pay the bridge toll, but other than that…
Dr. Fox: Okay. Was it logistically difficult?
Andrew: I mean, we don’t live far from the city.
Dr. Fox: Okay. How did it make you guys feel? Obviously you have the situation at hand, but sort of for some people transferring into a “high-risk practice,” for some people it makes them feel a lot better because they’re like, “All right, I feel like I’m secure. I’m with people who do this.” And okay, for other people it’s like, “Oh my God, I’m on a high-risk practice. Like something horrible is going to happen to me. Like why do I need to be here?”
Andrew: No, we definitely felt more confident and happy to be with a high-risk practice.
Dr. Fox: Going through this, I mean, frequently these stories are being told by, you know, the woman who’s pregnant. And listen, I’ve been in your shoes also. I’ve been the husband, I’ve been the dad, and so I have my own experiences. But what are you going through here? Because your wife is very worried. This is all happening. Do you feel like you’re in the middle of it or you’re on the periphery? How do you feel as the husband in this circumstance?
Andrew: I was there to really give my wife all the support she needed. Obviously, it’s my child too. I was very invested in the outcome and day-to-day. But she’s carrying the child. She’s feeling those emotions, she’s feeling, you know, the kicks and the everything, so I just did everything I can to support her as much as I can, which is that’s where it’s…you know, you should support your wife in every pregnancy obviously, but that’s where it’s like, that’s where you’re playing that balance where it became like her pregnancy…meaning I was supporting her through her pregnancy, not like the child as much.
Dr. Fox: Right, I understand. No, I mean, you’re there, it is your child, but because of the situation, you had to focus on your wife more so than on your child because she was going through more than someone might in a typical pregnancy. You know, you said always, you support her, she supports you, but this is she needed more support, I mean, because it’s a more difficult situation. Did you feel like you needed support, right, from, again, it may not be from her because she’s focusing on the pregnancy, but from family, from friends, or did you not feel that way?
Andrew: No, not really. I was supporting her. That’s what I was doing.
Dr. Fox: Got it. Did your family and friends know this was all going on, that it was a real complicated pregnancy? Did you tell people?
Andrew: No.
Dr. Fox: No, nobody?
Andrew: Okay, very select. My parents knew. Like I said, my mother is in this world. We told one person we need an escape plan for the older child and just, so we told them, they knew. And we had a doula. My wife was in touch with her. She was very supportive. She knew. And my wife had a friend also who was at the same time going through a difficult pregnancy. And they were in touch with each other like giving each other support throughout, which was very nice. It was really amazing to see like she’s going through her own, you know, tough pregnancy, but she was there for a friend who was going through a tough pregnancy because she can relate to it better. So they were support for each other at that time.
Dr. Fox: Was the reason you kept it sort of just in its small, tight circle because that’s who you guys are by nature, or was there something specific about this that you didn’t want people to know or to, you know, bug you about so to speak?
Andrew: No, I think that’s who we are. We’re close to the vest.
Dr. Fox: Got it. Okay, fine. So how did it ultimately go, progressing through, you know, into the second and the third trimester?
Andrew: So at that point, we scheduled I think biweekly visits to come in, do like the full scan, look at everything, counting toes, and make sure that everyone’s doing well. At one of the appointments, I think this is week 21, so this is early on, Dr. Lam saw an effusion around the heart.
Dr. Fox: Right, some fluid around the heart, correct.
Andrew: Yes, some fluid around the heart. She wanted to take a look at that. So we kept an eye on that for a couple of visits as well. Think they did an echo at Carnegie downstairs.
Dr. Fox: Right. That’s a pretty scary finding under the circumstances because one of the fears of the placental problem is that it can cause a condition called hydrops in the baby, it’s like a cardiac failure type in the baby because the baby has to work too hard. And one of the early signs of that could be fluid around the heart. So, normally when you see that, usually, it’s benign, it means nothing. If it’s not very big, it’s going to go away. And, you know, we talk about it, we do this, we do this, we do this, but A plus B, we’re like, “Whoa, like maybe this is headed…” But it turned out to be the nothing. It turned out to be sort of just, you know, a whatever and it went away. It doesn’t seem to have been related to the placenta which is great because that could’ve really gone in a bad direction.
Andrew: At one point Dr. Lam sent us to Mount Sinai Pediatric…
Dr. Fox: To cardiology.
Andrew: …Cardiology. So we went there. They took a long hard look at the heart.
Dr. Fox: They are thorough, to say the least. That’s a long day. Bring a lunch.
Andrew: Yeah. That was a lot of poking and prodding, but it came out and they were happy with the heart. So that was definitely a relief, because it was just another thing all up in this pregnancy. But yeah, so then we’re doing it every two weeks. The story, you know, was the same it was. It’s a messed up-looking placenta, but a great-looking kid, every week it was like.
Dr. Fox: Baby’s growing, fluid is good, blood flow’s good, everything looks great, healthy, healthy. And then we were planning for when to do the delivery. Did you guys have thoughts that you wanted it as early as possible, as late as possible, or you were just like, whenever you guys tell us, that’s when we’ll do it?
Andrew: So we were on board with whatever you were going to tell us. I know my mother was always going to be like, “They’re pushing you past 32, you’re sure you’re going to go…” But like, we were just…
Dr. Fox: Your mother, the midwife, is hoping for the induction, the earlier birth?
Andrew: We knew that odds were that if we’re making it to the end, we’re going to have an early induction. Going with our not-telling-anyone, we kind of like skewed our due date. We played with the due date so that we could all be obscure about everything.
Dr. Fox: So when you said it’s about a certain time, that time was a few weeks early already.
Andrew: We said mid-April instead of, you know, early March.
Dr. Fox: Early May.
Andrew: Early… Yeah.
Dr. Fox: Got it. Okay, all right. So we’re getting to that point and ultimately, tell me about the delivery.
Andrew: At one point we switched to weekly appointments. So this is where it’s like I and my wife, so she’s driving to the city every single time. I couldn’t go with her to every visit. She’s going every two weeks and then every week going to the city, doing the whole thing, finding parking, that whole fun.
Dr. Fox: Yeah, I had to do that every day, by the way.
Andrew: Fine. So then…
Dr. Fox: Not going to get any pity out of me for coming to the city. No, it’s… I have a parking spot. So it is a lot easier for me. And I go in real early, so I don’t have any traffic. It’s typically pre-traffic. So it’s good. Okay, so you’ll get pity, fine. It’s hard to come to the city and park, I get it.
Andrew: When you’re pregnant.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. When you’re not pregnant too, but yes, when you’re pregnant. It’s hard to…
Andrew: Adds to the fun.
Dr. Fox: Absolutely.
Andrew: So, we scheduled the induction for week 37. It’s on 11:30 p.m. on a Monday. We scheduled the induction, it was a great scheduled induction. My wife and I, we dropped off the kid, came to the city early, we had a nice dinner. We went, we grabbed coffees, that’s it, we’re ready to go. We had it all planned out. It’s all scheduled. It’s way easier than going into labor. So we get there, probably about midnight. We’re in a room, Dr. Freeman was on that night. She was super cool.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. She is cool, yeah.
Andrew: I think it was the first time I met her. I think it was the first time my wife met her too. We had seen her in all the visits. And we were like, “Oh, she’s cool.” So they get her, start on the epidural before anything, just in case we’re going to need intervention. We already have the epidural, everything, it was a calm night. It was like at about 6, Rachel says she needs to push.
Dr. Fox: Oh, got it.
Andrew: So this is…you know, her water break. And this is six hours later after she’s induced.
Dr. Fox: It’s a beautiful thing on the second baby.
Andrew: Yeah, so she’s like, “I have to…” But I’m pretty sure there was something going on, some emergency, something else on the floor. There was like no staff. So Dr. Freeman comes in, a couple of nurses. And they finally like let her push. And at 6:39 a.m., Gabriel’s born, a healthy baby. He was 7 pounds 11 ounces at 37 weeks which was…
Dr. Fox: Big.
Andrew: Yeah. And then, yeah, it was a very emotional moment. We were very happy. Because every moment along the way, you feel like you’ve passed a certain goal line. Like okay, we’re past 27 weeks, we’re past 32 weeks, we’re past 34 weeks, we’re in the hospital. And like because the concern also was that if something would look off, we would go right to C-section.
Dr. Fox: Right, once you get to the hospital, you’re sort of, “All right, we’re going to have a baby here.” It’s just that we don’t know exactly when, exactly how, is it going to be a crazy story, an easy story? But yeah, there’s definitely that level of security, once you’re in the hospital, baby’s on the monitor continuously, you’re getting induced or whatever, that, all right, it’s going to be good. But it’s pretty cool because you have the birth and then they clamp the cord. This baby is no longer attached to that bad placenta. You’re like, “All right, we’re done. We’re done, this kid is done with that placenta.” And that’s a big moment. Was it difficult to deliver the placenta?
Andrew: I don’t remember the delivery of the placenta being difficult.
Dr. Fox: Yeah, because sometimes there’d be a lot of bleeding.
Andrew: I think it was regular. I just remember, for me, it was definitely, it was very different than when my first was born. When my first was born, so, you know, I was all hands in there, like, “Oh, let me hold him. Let me see him.” But like I remember when Gabriel was born, it was like this was my wife’s journey. So like I was just standing there happy to watch her hold the baby and just connect.
Dr. Fox: It’s so nice.
Andrew: It was really an amazing moment. And like it was so calm. Like no one bothered them. They just let her hold him. And it was really awesome.
Dr. Fox: Did you get to see the placenta? Did you take pictures?
Andrew: They took out the placenta. It was like at the fair, everyone’s looking at it and poking it. I remember Dr. Rebarber runs in like a few minutes after 7:00. He still has his coat on on his back, and he’s like, “Did I miss it? Like what happened? Did I miss it?” like it’s the school fair. He comes in. He’s like, taking pictures and he’s telling anyone who would listen, “Look at this, look at this.” He was really into the placenta. I mean, once we had a healthy baby, he got excited about the placenta.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. The diagnosis was confirmed and pathology. That’s what it was, the mesenchymal dysplasia. So at least we got it right, you know. It could’ve been worse. We could’ve gone through all this and got it wrong. Recovery was good. Everything was okay?
Andrew: Yeah, everything was good since then. He’s the man. Gabriel’s the man.
Dr. Fox: Wonderful. Now does Rachel tell the story to anybody now?
Andrew: Maybe the abbreviated version.
Dr. Fox: Okay. Do you tell more people how it went or is this sort of like your coming-out party?
Andrew: Yeah, this is the coming-out party.
Dr. Fox: It’s awesome. Hearing your story, it’s obvious it’s great. It’s a happy story. It was a little bit scary obviously, I mean, certainly, for you guys. I wouldn’t say it was scary for us. You know, I think we were pretty confident it would go well because everything kept looking normal. But whenever you’re faced with something that’s rare, and no one has a ton of experience with this, no one on earth has a ton of experience with is and so, you know, we’re not relying on the Google, but, you know, it’s the same thing, you’re reading, you’re trying to find case series on this or other people’s reports and you’re sort of reading and trying to then sort of make sort of your own educated guesses about what could happen, how do we look for it, how do we prevent it, and you do all these things. So, there’s always that sort of trepidation over what if and we don’t know. And so there’s a little bit of…not anxiety, but definitely uncertainty about how things are going to go. And so it is pretty cool for ourselves. And I know that Andre was genuinely excited to see what that placenta looked like because we’ve been davening over that placenta for six months now. And we want to see it, we want to see what the deal was. And we want to look at it and maybe it will help us with our future pregnancies when this happens again and, you know, send it to the pathologist, see what they say. And so it is interesting on our end when these things happen, but that’s pretty cool. So for you, are you guys looking back on this? What is it you want others to take away from your story?
Andrew: So obviously you just have that added gratitude and how thankful we are and really how amazing every pregnancy is and all that, that’s great. But like one idea that kept coming up throughout all this is just you really have no idea what other people are going through and how sensitive you have to be, you know, when they’re pregnant. It’s more than just pregnant. People’s health in general, or their relationships, or whatever they’re dealing with, you really have no idea what people are going through. No one had an idea at the time. Many people don’t know now, but it’s just something we were going through and we were very quiet about the pregnancy because we were nervous about it. So if I’m not saying anything about it, and someone comes up, like, “Oh, wow, it’s so exciting,” it’s like we’re reserved about it for reasons. So in general, I try now to like match the energy. If somebody’s clearly and obviously private, however close they are, like a sister, a friend, someone, if they don’t say anything, I’m not going to say anything to them because if they wanted to say something they’d say something. If they just mention it, like, “Oh, by the way, I’m pregnant,” okay, you know, sure, I’ll go, “Wow.” If they’re excited, I’ll be excited. But just to match that energy because you don’t know what people are dealing with, what people are going through, and like as you go through it, you just pick up on these signs that are like, “Oh, maybe that’s why that other person whose pregnancy…” Because now that I went through it, I saw what it’s like and these little cues come up. And I just think that the consideration and that gentle touch that you have to have when dealing with these things should be taken into consideration.
Dr. Fox: That’s fantastic. It’s a great lesson and it’s so true that there’s so much that’s behind the scenes. And like you said, it’s not just pregnancy. It’s life, that with other people where you just, you can’t know what’s going on with them 24/7, it’s not possible. And it doesn’t mean you don’t interact with people but you have to just be mindful that maybe they are going through a tough time. And it’s also the idea of like giving people the benefit of the doubt. If someone’s a little snappy one day, it doesn’t mean that they suddenly hate you. Maybe they’re having a tough day, maybe they got terrible news, maybe they’re worried about something, maybe they’re afraid. And to try to, you know, take a step back and think about there might be other things going on that have nothing to do with you. And that’s important, certainly in pregnancy because pregnancy is a high-stakes situation. Everyone’s on edge to some degree and there’s things that happen all the time that are big, that are small, but they’re all meaningful. And it is a really important lesson, and that’s true for the pregnant woman, and it’s true for whoever is with her, her husband or partner. I mean, whatever it is, people go through a lot in pregnancy. It’s great. What else do you want to tell us?
Andrew: And then there’s one other thing that I know. So Aiden, my older one, he was born at 42 weeks and Gabriel was born at 37 weeks. And just the difference that those few weeks make can be huge. And like you don’t want to compare your kids to other kids just because it’s… Like you look at him at five weeks and be like, wow, he’s not doing the same things that the older one did at five weeks. Yeah, well, he’s five weeks younger than he was. Like you can’t compare these…because those weeks make a big difference. We count from day one of birth, but we don’t count from day one of pregnancy. And those weeks matter.
Dr. Fox: So you noticed differences in your kids when they sort of did certain things?
Andrew: Nothing major, but just like these weeks matter and same idea of just be cognizant and considerate of other factors going on that you don’t know about.
Dr. Fox: Right. Amazing. Awesome. Andrew? Yes.
Andrew: And then I just want to end with…
Dr. Fox: I love this.
Andrew: …thanking my wife.
Dr. Fox: Beautiful.
Andrew: Me and the boys, we have the best wife and mother we can ask for. She was awesome throughout the pregnancy. She’s awesome every day. So, thank you, Rachel.
Dr. Fox: Oh, we’re going to have to make sure she listens to this now.
Andrew: Oh, she’ll listen.
Dr. Fox: Oh, she’ll listen.
Andrew: To this one?
Dr. Fox: Yeah.
Andrew: She has to.
Dr. Fox: Well, Rachel, Andrew did great. You did great also, Rachel. It’s not easy to go through pregnancy with fear. We’re really happy for you guys. Awesome. Well, thank you for coming on to tell your story. This was awesome.
Andrew: Thanks for having me.
Dr. Fox: Thank you for listening to “High Risk Birth Stories” brought to you by the creators of the “Healthful Woman” podcast. If you’re interested in telling your birth story on our podcast, please go to our partner website at www.healthfulwoman.com and click the link for sharing your story. You can also email us directly at hrbs@highriskbirthstories.com. If you liked today’s podcast, please be sure to check out our “Healthful Woman” podcast as well, where I speak with leaders in the field to help you learn more about women’s health, pregnancy, and wellness. Have a great day.
The information discussed in “High Risk Birth Stories” is intended for information and entertainment only and does not replace medical care from your physician. The stories and experiences discussed in our podcast are unique to each guest and are not intended to be representative of any standard of care or expected outcomes. As always, we encourage you to speak with your own doctor about specific diagnoses and treatment options for an effective treatment plan. Guests on “High Risk Birth Stories” have given their permission for us to share their personal health information.