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The Greiner family– which included Peter, Lisa and children Paige, 10, Ian, 7, and Isaac, 2 – was in the last few weeks before it expanded by two. Lisa was expecting identical twins and her obstetricians at Ottumwa Regional Health Center had planned on inducing labor on Jan. 12, 2010, when the babies would be at 38 weeks gestation.
On Dec. 26, Lisa, then just 32 weeks along, was in her children’s playroom when she felt her water break. She called her husband, Peter, who was at their hotel and restaurant overseeing its operations, to tell him, then called a friend to come watch the older children. As she left to drive herself to the hospital, snow began to fall.
Lisa arrived at the Ottumwa hospital around 9 p.m. and Peter arrived shortly after his wife. Although Lisa wasn’t in labor at the time, it was decided she and the twins would receive the best level of care at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines. Her caregivers made plans for Lisa to be taken by ambulance to Mercy and to be admitted to the Maternity Triage & Treatment Unit (MTT) – central Iowa’s only dedicated antepartum nursing unit that provides specialized monitoring and care for women experiencing high-risk pregnancies or complications. Their hope was to delay the onset of Lisa’s labor for a couple of days to help the babies develop as much as possible.
Lisa’s contractions started soon after she left in the ambulance, however, and as they got closer to Des Moines, the snowstorm strengthened. She started timing her contractions and surprised the ambulance crew when she told them the babies were on their way.
After arriving at Mercy shortly after midnight on Dec. 27, Lisa and Peter settled into one of Mercy’s dedicated Birthing Unit suites and the couple was assigned an experienced labor and delivery nurse. “My nurse, Roxanne, never left the room. She was there with us during my entire labor and delivery experience.”
As the “big moment” arrived, a physician and nurses from Variety Mercy’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) joined perinatologist Dr. Joseph Hwang of Perinatal Center of Iowa and labor and delivery nurses in preparing for the arrival of the twins. At 4:30 a.m., Baby A– who was later named Nigel – was born. But just as he let out his first cry, Dr. Hwang and the nurses noticed the second twin’s umbilical cord had come out – an irregularity signaling there was a good chance Baby B had not been getting oxygen. Lisa remembers the delivery room falling silent, a sign that her second baby was in distress.
Dr. Hwang quickly delivered the second baby boy – Noah – and handed him over to the Mercy NICU team. Once the boys were stable, they were taken to the NICU to receive specialized care to ensure their continued growth and development. Nigel, who weighed 5 pounds, 4 ounces, was the 5,000th baby born at Mercy in 2009, while his identical twin brother Noah, who weighed 4 pounds, 8 ounces, became the 5,001st. Mercy was the first hospital in state history to welcome more than 5,000 babies in one year.
While in the Mercy NICU, Peter and Lisa visited their new and fragile babies almost daily unless they were kept away from Des Moines due to a snowstorm. Back home, Nigel and Noah’s siblings were able to get to know their new baby brothers through a program called Seeing is Believing (SIB) – which uses very simple videoconferencing technology to help families keep in close touch when it is not possible for them to be at the NICU.
Nigel was able to go home two weeks after birth, while little Noah needed to spend a little extra time in the NICU. Before he was able to join the rest of his family at home, Noah also needed to have a car seat he could be properly buckled into – one of the last hurdles a baby must clear before being able to go home from the hospital. Since he was still so small, Noah was having difficulty fitting properly in the car seat his family had bought, so a quick-thinking nurse tried the test using a special car seat for tiny babies that had been donated through the Bailey K. Bryant Foundation. The seat worked and the Griener family was finally able to all be together after Noah had spent four weeks at Mercy.
Today, Noah and Nigel are happy, healthy little boys who have hit every developmental milestone on the dot. They are currently in the 90th percentile for their weight and height – a testament to the solid start in life they received from the physicians and nurses at Mercy – and love crawling to help them get into mischief and eating table food.
“Dr. Hwang and Mercy are the reasons why we have two very active, healthy twin boys today,” said Lisa.