Ep 167: What Support Looks Like in the Digital Age with Founder and CEO of Poppy Seed Health Simmone Taitt

Listen and Subscribe On...

Warning: this episode contains discussion of pregnancy loss

Technology is going to increasingly become part of the way we live and the way that we care for ourselves physically and emotionally; smartphones are here to stay and it’s important to figure out how to use that technology to our advantage. And that’s why I’m so excited to chat with Simmone Taitt.

Simmone Taitt is the CEO and Founder of Poppy Seed Health, a telehealth app that offers a unique type of support for pregnant and postpartum people. Taitt comes to this work through the highly personal experience of navigating her own pregnancy loss in an inequitable medical system. Her work has been covered by Fast Company, Vogue, Insider, CBS Mornings with Gayle King, and more.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • How Simmone’s personal experience with loss lead her to found Poppy Seed Health
  • How the Poppy Seed app works
  • What makes texting a great format for support
  • Why the app offers support specifically from doulas, nurses, and midwives
  • How equity is incorporated into the app
  • How Poppy Seed Health makes sure people who don’t have resources have access to the app

Links Mentioned in the Episode

Come Join Me On Instagram

I want this podcast to be more than a one sided conversation. Join me on Instagram where we can connect outside of the show! Through my posts, videos, and stories, you'll get even more helpful tips to ensure you have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. You can find me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. I'll see you there!

Share with Friends



Ep 166: Taryn’s Birth Story – An Emergency Cesarean and a Stay in the NICU

Nicole: This is a birth story episode and it is being brought to you by Ellement. Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OBGYN, who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it.

Nicole: Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 166. I'm so glad you're spending some time with me today. So in this episode of the podcast, we have Taryn sharing her birth story. Taryn is one of the members of my online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course, the online childbirth education class that gets you calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful birth. And things don't go exactly as Taryn wanted with her birth. In fact, they went exactly the opposite. Now it would be easy for me to only share birth stories from course students where everything went great. There are certainly plenty of those, but that would be dishonest of me because the reality is that sometimes things don't go as you like despite having done phenomenal childbirth education. Birth is an unpredictable process that cannot be controlled, but do not get it twisted.

Nicole: That doesn't mean that Taryn doesn't think that the experience of the Birth Preparation Course wasn't good. In fact, she said she was thankful for the podcast and the course it, they both helped her to adjust on the fly and do what was necessary to get her baby home safe. So in this birth story episode, you're going to hear about how Taryn ended up deciding to be induced at the last minute and why she has some regrets about that. You'll also hear about how her induction ended in an emergency cesarean, a true emergency cesarean, how she and her baby both developed something called sepsis and how her baby ended up in a NICU at another hospital, two hours away. Now I'll give it away that her baby Eleanor is doing well now as is Taryn, but it took some time to get there. And in sharing her story, Taryn hopes that she can help others learn the value in being adaptable.

Nicole: And also she wants to shine a light on that mama strength that we all have inside of us. Now, before we get into the episode, I wanna talk to you for a moment about prenatal vitamins and supplements. All of us, OB GYNs recommend prenatal vitamins. In fact, ideally you should start them three months before you get pregnant. However, it can be so super confusing to figure out which one to take which product is right for you. And that's why I was so excited to learn about this week's episode sponsor Ellement they have created the first ever personalized prenatal supplement that takes the stress out of the whole process. Ellement is a twice daily packet that was designed by maternal fetal medicine doctors. And it is customized not only for each person, but it also changes over time, depending on where you are in your journey, all the way from preconception to postpartum. So they're saying is every pregnancy is unique and your prenatal vitamin should be too. So definitely head to helloellement.com that's Ellement with two L's so E L L E M E N T. Helloellement.com head on over there and join their wait list today. All right, let's get into the birth story episode with Taryn.

Nicole: Thank you so much Taryn for agreeing to come onto the podcast. You have a really interesting story that we're gonna get to, but why don't we start out first by having you tell us a bit about yourself and, and your family.

Taryn: Yeah, of course. And thank you so much for having me. Um, I listened to almost all of your podcasts when I was pregnant. So it feels surreal to be here, uh, chatting with you. But, uh, my name is Taryn Szczepanek. I live in Pennsylvania with my husband and our now 14 month old daughter, Eleanor. Um, we have two cats and a fur baby dog, Emmy. Um, but yeah, we, we met in college. We were both the same major. Um, we were both accountants. We started at the same accounting firm, kinda had very similar, um, paths in life, um, and got married three years ago and had our first baby in December of 2020.

Nicole: Alrighty. Alrighty. And I like the name Eleanor. That's like a nice classic name.

Taryn: Yeah, it's actually funny when she was in the hospital, every single person who would come to her room commented on her name and how traditional and old school it was. Oh, so definitely bonding point with a lot of the nurses.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. For sure. So what was your pregnancy and prenatal care like?

Taryn: Uh, my pregnancy was, was pretty standard to everybody else who had a COVID pregnancy. Um, I found out we were pregnant in April of 2020, so about a week or so after the world kind of shut down. Um, but as far as like my actual pregnancy went, there were no complications, a textbook pregnancy. Um, I chose, I ended up seeing a couple different, um, doctor's offices, but all of the, my prenatal care was, um, an OB GYN office where you see kind of any of the doctors, but they can be, they might not be the ones delivering you. Um, so I started off with one set of one office and then I switched pretty late in, into my pregnancy, probably about 30 or 32 weeks. I switched and saw. Yeah. Um, I, I just felt like I wasn't getting the attention that, and, and again, like I was the first time mom, I was a little bit kind of worried.

Taryn: I just felt like I was being dismissed a bit. Mm. And then there was actually like, it could have been just a harmless incident, but I there's one moment that I look back on that was what made me pull the trigger in switching. And, and that was I, um, I had to get that rhogam shot and I knew what that was from your podcast, but I, I still had some questions about it and I was at one of my appointments and they had said like, oh, it's time for your rhogam shot. Like go back into this back room and we'll give it to you. Um, and when I went into this room, it was like a, a curtain. And on the other side, there was this family having an ultrasound. So it was a very intimate moment for them. And then there was this curtain and me on the other side, kind of getting this, this shot. And I remember asking kind of what this was and, and why I needed it. And I wasn't really getting any answers. I was just being told like, oh, you need to get this shot. Like everybody has to get this shot.

Nicole: Oh, that's not cool.

Taryn: Yeah. It definitely wasn't like an environment to be asking questions about it. And I, I get that it was something that I needed, but I was feeling a little bit uncertain about that to begin with. And then I got the shot and was leaving and they had given me a paper that said, um, like rhogam shot given at termination. And I remember being super confused on like, what just happened. And I, I was, didn't think that this was a pregnancy termination that they had just done, but I wasn't sure because I still had all those unanswered questions. So just having that incident was kind of like, if this is the care I'm getting at at a, just a routine visit, I don't know if I want to labor and be vulnerable there.

Nicole: Yeah. That makes perfect sense. It sounds like they have some things that they need to tighten up in their office. So when, when you went to the second office, did you feel like things were better?

Taryn: Yeah, it definitely, it was a lot better there again, it was only for like eight to 10 weeks. And at that point I was so pregnant that I think I was like, okay, this is just, we're just getting this baby out, but it definitely felt better. I, I felt a little bit less than just a number to that.

Nicole: Got it. Got it. Got it. You said no problems or anything during your, your pregnancy? No. No. Okay. So what did you do to prepare for your birth?

Taryn: Oh, I did all of the things. I'm like, I am an overprepared to kind of a fault. So I, I read a bunch of books. I did all of the free hospital classes. I had taken your bre- Birth Preparation Course. I listened.

Nicole: And I hope you found it helpful. Yeah.

Taryn: Oh yeah, it was great. It was actually one of the only things my husband also did to prepare. So it was, it was a double whammy for us as well.

Nicole: Good. Good, good.

Taryn: Um, and then I listened to your podcast religiously, um, as well. So I did kind of all of the, the things that you could do to prepare.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And then what were some things that you wanted for your birth?

Taryn: Yeah, so I, I think the overarching theme was I wanted to be like fully present for my birth. Um, so I was open to having an epidural, but I definitely didn't want that to be something that I felt like was a given, like I wanted the option to, to have a pain medication free birth so long as I could stay, like mentally present and in a good head space. Um, and then I wanted, again, all of the things that you had talked about, so the delayed cord clamping, the immediate skin to skin. Um, I wanted my baby to come kind of like right out and right onto me and I wanted to stay there for it as long as possible. Um, and when I had did my birth preference form, I, I wasn't planning on getting a C-section, but I had mentioned that if I did need a C-section, I'd prefer like as gentle of a C-section that we could have had. Gotcha. Um, but I was that person who shows up to the hospital with like essential oils and tea light candles and string lights, and I was there to make this like the best experience possible.

Nicole: Good, good, good, good. Well, hope I know it, obviously you were prepared and we'll find out whether or not, I don't know if best will be a word. I know I have a little bit of insider knowledge about what's to come, but let's, let's go ahead and get into exactly what happened with your labor and birth.

Taryn: Of course. So I, um, we were due again in early December and about a day before my due date, I had mentioned that I have an Australian shepherd dog and anybody who's familiar knows how chaotic they are. But, um, about a day before my due date, it was a mild day in Pennsylvania for being December. So we were outside and I was sitting on a hammock and my dog came barreling over and I fell off the hammock. Um, and I, it wasn't a major fall. I fell on my behind, but when I called the doctor, they said to watch out for like cramping or anything that felt out of the ordinary. But again, I'm a first time mom, like I have no idea what is ordinary for 40 weeks pregnant. So we ended up going into the hospital, um, just to get checked out.

Taryn: And I wanna pause here, cuz it's important to note that it's like the heart of COVID right now. So our hospital was about 40 minutes away and it was December, 2020. So the world was still very much in COVID um, and it was December, so there was a big snowstorm coming. So when we got to the hospital, um, we did the, the fetal stress test. Not sure if that's the right word for it, but they did that and she seemed fine. Um, but then they had asked if we wanted to get induced and getting induced was, was never a part of my plan, but I remember being like so stressed out with COVID. So my husband and I were in quarantine for the three weeks leading up to it. And this was like, we, we just got to the hospital and I remember being so worried, like if we contracted COVID somehow at the hospital and we left and then we came back in a couple days and one of us had COVID he wouldn't be able to be there for the delivery. So it felt very much like, and then there was a huge snowstorm coming. Um, so it felt very much like a question, but there was only one kind of answer that, that I felt guaranteed that my husband could be there and that was to be for us to get induced. So we got induced and then from there, everything just kind of takes a nose dive.

Nicole: Oh, okay. So what, how, what happened?

Taryn: Um, almost so we did get induced probably 7:00 PM. I, I got there probably around four, um, 7:00 PM on a Saturday. Okay. And almost immediately it was clear that like, she didn't like the induction process at all, so, oh. Um, I remember just, I would be asleep or sitting in and like nurses would rush in and move my position or like tell me kind of which way she was favoring or not favoring because her heart rate was, was dipping. So it, it went like that until we ended up delivering.

Nicole: Okay. Um, and what did they start with for the induction? Did they do just straight to Pitocin or?

Taryn: Um, they did the gel.

Nicole: Yep. Yeah. It's called, um, prepidil. Uh, okay. Some, it has different names, but um, so they started with the gel.

Taryn: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I was like, again, like I, I was fully induced. I don't think I really, any centimeters dil and nothing notable when I went in. Sure. Um, so we started with that and then I would say,

Nicole: Oh, sorry, let me back up for a second. I felt that just must have felt like really hard to make that decision and have all that stuff going around in your mind about COVID. And you want your husband to be there? I mean, how are you, were you nervous? Were you just like, this is just, or just sort of going with what your gut was telling you or?

Taryn: I was, I was petrified and I'm honest. Like my gut was telling me not to get induced, but I mentioned earlier how much of a planner I am? I, I just felt like if I would've listened to my gut, I think we would've gone home and everything probably would've been okay. But in that moment, I just felt like I needed to control something. Cause it's such a scary process for anybody who gives birth, but especially people who've done it in a pandemic. Um, I felt like I needed to control something. And in that moment, if nothing else I could control and guarantee that my husband was gonna be there. So I mean, it, it was terrifying and it it's one of the parts that he in this story that I think back a lot and I'm like, wow, I wish I would've just trusted my gut a little bit and had a little bit more faith in that if I chose not to get induced things would've been okay.

Nicole: Yeah. I know that's hard, but I hope you're not beating yourself up.

Taryn: Oh, no. I mean,

Nicole: Okay.

Taryn: We're also talking 14 months after the fact true.

Nicole: Had some time to yeah, yeah, yeah. To come to grip with things. Totally understand. Totally understand. Okay. So you started up with the, the gel and then things you said just immediately, you could see that your baby, baby Eleanor was not happy with this induction.

Taryn: Yeah, she, she was not enjoying her exit process. Um, so we, that was probably around 7:00 PM. Um, and then it was, I think I ended up getting the epidural at like one or two in the morning. Um, and then from there on out, I pretty much stuck where I was, unless the nurses came in. Um, and I wasn't really progressing at all. Um, so the next couple hours just looked like the nurses rushing in and moving my positioning or putting me on the peanut or something like that. And then a bunch of different checks with really no progress. Um, and then the next morning I'd say probably around lunchtime the next morning. Um, they had a check. This was one of the doctors that came in and done the check and she had noted, oh, your baby has a lot of hair and there's also no fluid in you. So they had given me artificial fluid at that point. I'm not sure why, but I guess maybe to just speed things along, I don't really know how that works. Um,

Nicole: Yeah, sometimes, sometimes we do it, if it can help. Um, it sort of, if there's not a lot of fluid putting fluid in sort of creates a cushion and it won't the umbilical cord won't get as squeezed during the process. So sometimes, sometimes that's a reason why, why we do it, had your water already broken or had they broken your water by that point? Do you remember?

Taryn: No. So my, they didn't ever break my water. Okay. So, I mean, again, I don't know. There's so many moments looking back that I'm like, geez, nobody really, you expect your water to break in this dramatic fashion. I don't know, but they didn't break my water. It might have just broken.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Gotcha. And it wasn't a lot cuz they said there wasn't a whole lot of fluid there. Okay.

Taryn: Yeah. They said that there wasn't fluid in there. So they, they gave that artificial fluid. Okay. And that was probably around lunchtime and then we just kind of kept going and I never, I don't think I ever made it past four or five centimeters, so I don't think I was ever even in active labor. Um, and then probably four o'clock the next day. So we've been at the hospital now for 24 hours, but haven't been, I've been induced for just under, like 20. Um, they had said that it was time for an emergency C-section that her heart rate was just super unstable and, and I didn't want me to continue laboring.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And how, and how were you feel? I mean, did you feel comfortable with the decision or were you like, I'm just ready to get this over or like how were you feeling?

Taryn: I think I was just ready to get it over with. I think at that point, everything was so far out of my comfort zone. It, it's not like not a single thing at that point had gone how I envisioned, that I was just ready to put this chapter behind and for her to be here and like us to start that process. And maybe some of that would look like what I was hoping it looked like.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And did, did you ever feel like you were rushed or pressured or anything during the process?

Taryn: Um, I, I'm not sure. I think back on that a lot. I'm not sure. I wish that I would've had, I have a couple friends who have had very similar stories, but some of them have had a nurse or a doctor who has said, you know what, we're gonna, we're gonna get you to 10 centimeters dilated. We're gonna get you in this peanut ball and we're gonna put you in this position and we're gonna do all these things. Um, I definitely didn't have that. I, I felt a little bit like once I got the epidural that I was confined to a bed and I was helpless unless the baby's heart rate had dropped. Um, so I, I don't know if I was pressured. I just, I, I, I wish that there was more that I could have done to, to help kind of push things along. Um, if that makes sense.

Nicole: Yeah, no, yeah, it does. It does for sure. Um, so during that whole, like almost 24 hours, were they, there was no one you felt stood out who was like really like awesome or amazing. It was just kind of like I'm in the bed and I'm here and I'm just waiting.

Taryn: So funny you asked that. When we, when I first had gotten there for the non-stress test, so I haven't even been induced yet. Um, our nurse at that point was awesome and we bonded immediately. Like she met us at the front and walked us in and we bonded over our dogs and she was just fantastic. Um, but then shift change happens and we got a different nurse and um, the next time I felt that level of support with my nurses was, was definitely when Eleanor was born and kind of, we navigated that whole process.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. So how long then did it take between when and I, and I guess I should say, were you able to at least like get some rest during that time or were you just anxious and up and like what, you know?

Taryn: Um, so I like to joke that sleeping is my superpower. So I, I was, once I got that epidural, I was able to sleep and

Nicole: Well at least there's that. Yes. Having, being able to sleep as a superpower is a great superpower. Yes. Especially when you have a little one, you can probably sleep whenever that is awesome. All right. So you get to the point where they're like, okay, let's do the C-section and you come to grips with that. How long between when they said C-section we need to do the C-section and when the C-section actually happened?

Taryn: Oh, it was, it was immediate. So they, when they came in to have the C-section conversation, they had brought in kind of the paper to sign and then it was right after that.

Nicole: Oh, so it was for real, like, let we have to go.

Taryn: Yeah. It, it was a little like, there, there definite the way it was presented there, wasn't it wasn't like, no, thank you. I'll choose to continue laboring. Um, it was time for the C-section.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. So sometimes people will say they had an emergency C-section and it's like 20 minutes, 30 minutes in between when the C-section was talked about in between when the C-section happened. And y'all, I just wanna say, like, that's maybe more like an emergency section, what Taryn is describing. That's an emergency, C-section where we're coming in and we're like, it it's time. Let let's go right now. And that's what it sounds like happened.

Taryn: Yeah,

Nicole: Definitely. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And then, so get back to the, or, and then how did the C-section itself go?

Taryn: Um, so I'm gonna caveat with the next, the, the next gap in this story is really fuzzy for me. Um, so this is I, my husband and I chatted over the a couple weeks just to recount the story. So this is all now from his perspective, just cuz I ended up losing consciousness for a few hours, so it's a little bit hazy, but oh really? Um, that was right after she was born.

Nicole: Oh my goodness.

Taryn: So she, we get back for the C-section. Um, and I, I feel like it was quick, but again, my perception of time could have been blurred, but it felt like it was really fast. I remember, um, my husband can't even see blood and at one point they said like, dad, do you wanna look over and watch your daughter being born? And he went to stand up and I had to like shoot him down with my arm because that's not what we needed at that moment.

Nicole: Right.

Taryn: And then she was born and, and she cried briefly. Uh, but then she stopped all of a sudden and it got pretty quiet. And I remember just asking like, oh, is everything okay? And it was one of those times when you ask a question and you're expecting the answer and be like, yeah, mom, everything is fine. And they had just said like, oh yep. It'll be okay. She has a lot of hair. Um, but she we're gonna bring the NICU or she's gonna go to the NICU or something like that. So it was, it was, I asked a question and it was kind of a different response. So I remember that kind of being a little bit of an interesting moment. And the NICU came and they had, the NICU was already there. I think they're there for all C-sections and they had taken her and the nurse took a picture of Eleanor on her, her phone and just, um, showed it to Matt and I, while I was on the operating table and I guess they were kind of doing what else was needed to be done.

Taryn: So we got to see her on the nurse's phone. And I remember the nurse had texted it to us and for a while, that was all we had and it was a live photo. So we just kind of kept replaying the live photo over and over again. Cuz you could see her moving. And that was just for a little, for a while. That was kind of all we had. So it was really exciting for us. Um, then I, I was really cold and I, I remember not being able to speak cuz I was so cold and they had just told me like, this is normal. Like it's just hormonal and it definitely didn't feel normal. Like I, I couldn't, I, I couldn't speak like an effort to just say something. I, it was so cold and my body was like very heavy. Um, and then that's when I lost consciousness for a little bit.

Taryn: And there were a couple moments when, um, I came to like, I remember coming to at some point and like seeing the entire room, um, filled with doctors and I just looked at my husband and, and now we're, we're out of the operating room now and we're just in a recovery room. My husband was on my left hand side. Remember looking at him and saying like, you can do this. Um, cuz it was one of the only moments in my life when I wasn't sure what was gonna happen and if I was gonna be here and I wanted one of my last things for him to, to, to be that like he can raise her and he can be a great dad. Um, so that was a really tough moment for both of us. Um, but then

Nicole: Terrifying.

Taryn: It was horrible

Nicole: Oh my God. Okay. So you were just, okay, so C-section and then all of a sudden you just were and they didn't, did they come over and talk to you in the, or about taking her to the NICU? Or do you remember, did your husband remember or was it just kind of like she had to go to the NICU?

Taryn: I think there was a point when then he had left the operating room so I think at that point he may have been with her and, and they may got it talking, but at this point she's super sick at this point. She, she, they said she just has meconium aspiration and she's gonna go to the NICU. So, um, I don't think anybody understood the gravity of this scenario at that point so that they had taken her. Um, and then I guess at some point they realized they took because I was complaining of being so cold. I think that is hormonal, but that's also a sign of fever. They ended up taking my temperature at one point, I think it was like 104. Then they realized that I was septic and then they got infectious disease control and they gave me medicine and almost instantly, I guess after gave me the medicine I came, I came to and I was awake after that. And that was probably, she was born probably at four and I probably came, I was present fully at about seven. So it was a couple hours of, of tough time for my husband.

Nicole: Oh my gosh. You were really sick.

Taryn: Yeah. Oh yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. And I mean, that is, um, I mean, this is one of the things we talk about, like especially women who are young and healthy, like you can be good and you can be okay and folks will hold on until like all of a sudden things take a turn and it, um, it sounds like thankfully they recognize things fairly quickly. Would you say that things were not right?

Taryn: I, I think, well, I I'm here, so I would say quick enough, but there were definitely moments in this where, and I'm so happy that doctors approach it this way, but there were definitely moments in this where I felt like if I wasn't young and healthy, it wouldn't have maybe gotten to the point that it got to. I think so that was, that was really tough for me. And I just, how cold I was like, I mean, I'm not even being dramatic when I say I couldn't move my mouth. Like it was, I, I couldn't stop shivering enough to speak to voice how cold I was like. Right. It just, yeah.

Nicole: I mean like straight up chills, like, oh my goodness. So then you got the antibiotics and things. I mean, it must have been antibiotics and they probably gave you IV fluids and all of those things. And then you started to feel better, fairly quickly for more like yourself fairly quickly after that,

Taryn: It was almost instantaneous. Like I, I was able to, like, I was present then after they got the antibiotics and I was in the hospital for a couple days and they switched my antibiotics a bunch, but I was awake and, and present.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. So then your recovery from that perspective after that was fairly okay. Is that fair to say? And then we'll talk about what happened with, with Eleanor.

Taryn: Yeah. It was standard for, I guess, anybody who was septic or severely septic. So it was what you would expect.

Nicole: I mean, it sounds like it was as good as it, it can be, cause you can really, I mean, you can get really, people can get really sick. I mean, like that's it, it's one of the things that we have to recognize quickly. So I'm glad that for you, that things didn't, didn't didn't get, get worse and you, um, you know, things responded well to the antibiotics and all of that. So then what happened with, with uh, Eleanor?

Taryn: Yes. Um, I, so it's like seven o'clock now I'm awake and I look back on this all the time too. Like I didn't even really, I didn't think of her and I know that sound, every mom out there was called like what the heck? But I was just in such a fight that when I came awake, like I had forgotten that we had a baby till they had come in and they're like, and um, one of the, I think he was the head of NICU or something and right. He worked at the hospital, we had delivered, but he was affiliated with, um, Nomorus, which is where we ultimately ended up sending our daughter. He had come in and was like, okay, tell me all about your pregnancy. And at this point, my husband and I are like feasting on pizza. Like we have no sense of urgency. Right. We think everything is fine. And I remember thinking like, oh, if he wants to know about my pregnancy, like things are probably fine. We wouldn't waste time, like having this conversation if things were bad. So right. We have 10 minute conversation about our pregnancy and things that were going on and I'll never forget. He, he wrapped it up and was like, okay, Eleanor is critically ill. And it was just like a, I was like, wait, what you,

Nicole: What are you talking about?

Taryn: So I remember being like super confused on how that happened. And he explained that she had meconium aspiration, um, and that the NICU that she was at the hospital, we had delivered just wasn't set up to handle her case. Um, and he, he gave us a couple options. We could transfer her to just a higher level NICU at, at another hospital facility. Um, but he was worried that if she ended up needing this life support machine, that we'd have to transfer her again. So his recommendation was to just transfer her to one of the children's hospitals so that if she did need it, that she'd be there. Um, which was, I mean, we couldn't think at this point, so I'm so grateful that he did recommend that cuz we just kind of did whatever he said. Um, so,

Nicole: And how far, and how far away was that hospital?

Taryn: It was about an hour and a half to two hours from where we were

Nicole: I cannot even imagine how cra how crazy it almost have felt. Like what kind of world you felt like you were in? Like what is happening right now?

Taryn: It felt like, and I know people say when it rains, it pours, but it definitely just felt like that it like any news we were gonna handle the same way cuz the worst was already happening. So we were like, okay. Yeah, sure. Like it, it just felt very helpless, but like, all right, there's not really another option. So we'll just do that. Um,

Nicole: So she, she gets transferred out and then did you, did you stay?

Taryn: Yeah, so we, we actually got to see her. Um, and this is what I was talking about at first, when I said I didn't feel that level of support with my nurses until Eleanor was born. We had a nurse who, again, it was right around shift change, but she was there for the C-section and she was like, we're gonna get you, you're gonna be able to see Eleanor. And the new nurse had come in and introduced herself and this other nurse was there to like wheel me over to see Eleanor as the transplant team was there. So about like 15 people and Eleanor looked like she is in this like spaceship of box that was keeping her alive. And we got to see her for a couple minutes before they ended up transporting or transporting her to Delaware. Um, and then I stayed, I was at the hospital for probably three days. Um, but my husband left the next morning and our hospital was really gracious in letting my support person switch out. Cause again, it was was during COVID. So you couldn't have multiple support people, so right. They let my husband leave and my mom come and then my, my husband was able to be with Eleanor and my mom was able to be with me.

Nicole: Wow. Okay. So then you get discharged and then now you have a baby in the NICU, in another state, like two hours away. Oh that is not how you were intending to start your maternity leave obviously.

Taryn: Oh, not at all. It was, yeah. Not at all.

Nicole: And then, so how was her NICU? Because if I understand correctly, it gets a little bit challenging.

Taryn: Yeah. It gets worse and then it gets better. So, um, she, within a day of being at that hospital, they put her on that like support so that ECMO machine, which does her heart and her lungs. Um, and that was really tough. Um, and we were, we were told from like, we were told how sick she was. We were, um, and again, like it's something that you don't ever think of. Like when you ask a doctor, if everything's gonna be okay and, and they respond, like we're gonna do everything we can, you're like, wait, no you're supposed to say

Nicole: Like, that's not the answer,

Taryn: But that definitely helped us understand like how serious the situation was because they, they just said like, she's critically ill. We're gonna do everything that we can do. Um, so yeah, she was on life support. My husband was able to be there, um, that day that she got put on that life support machine. Um, but then I, I will say like after she was put on that machine, everything did get better. Like she, when we left the NICU, they had joked that she's valedictorian of the ECMO machine. She responded so well and that everybody like her care team was fantastic. Like she, they, we were just in the best hands possible and that was just kind of something we had to keep reminding ourselves.

Nicole: Um, so how long was she in the hospital?

Taryn: She was on that life support for like six days, I think. And then her hospital journey total was a little under a month. So, um, relatively quick for, for a baby on ECMO.

Nicole: Wow. And it is unusual for a full term baby to need to be on ECMO. Um, so I'm, and I'm sure you heard that, like, I don't know if you heard it during your hospital stay. Yeah, but it's it's, I mean, usually I'm sure you look around in the NICU it's it's other ti usually like tiny babies and pretermers, it's not typical that you see full term babies. Did you feel alone? Did you feel supported? I mean, how were you feeling during that time?

Taryn: I felt exhausted. I felt exhausted in, in kind of every sec I mean, like physically exhausted. Like I had just had a C-section and like logistically sitting in the car for an hour and a half to two hours physically really hard and then we'd get to the hospital and then NICU's just in the back of the hospital. So physically just getting into where she was was hard and like socially I was exhausted cuz I had friends and family who like, well intentioned were reaching out, but, um, it was just really hard to have those conversations. And then mentally I was exhausted, like trying to hold on to hope when like one thing went well, but not wanting to let yourself get too excited because you're still told how critically ill she is. Um, so it was just exhausted. I, I definitely felt supported at her NICU, like still to this day. Um, we're really good friends with one of her nurse practitioners who led her care team. Um, I felt like all around supported there at the NICU. I, I felt like we were in the best hands.

Nicole: I mean, can I like having had a NICU baby myself, there's something special about NICU nurses. My God, they like, they are like angels

Taryn: There is a special place in heaven for them. That's for sure.

Nicole: One, 100, 100%. So how often were you able to see her?

Taryn: So at first, so I should caveat my, the firm that I used to work at was, was fantastic. So my maternity leave was, was really long. Um, so I didn't really have like some NICU parents have to worry about going back to work so that they can take their maternity leave. Like I was so blessed that I didn't have to worry about that. Um, but my husband didn't have a leave and again, I, I couldn't drive that far. So at first it was really tough coordinating, like his work around the baby. And I remember one night specifically where we had went up, we went up after work, we stayed for, so we made that hour and a half, two hour drive. We stayed for an hour, two hours and then we drove back home and we had plans to go. I think it was gonna take a half day when we were gonna go around lunch.

Taryn: Um, and I woke up in the middle of the night and had my first ever panic anxiety attack, just being like so far away from her. And it was really hard with the distance that we ended up going right then. And then from there on out most of the days, um, I would just, I, I stayed at the hospital and then my husband would come, um, after work and then he would go back and I just either roomed in with her or at a hotel or at one of the, the floors in the hospital that you could like stay at. And it was like a mini kind of hotel suite in the hospital.

Nicole: Right. Right. And were you, were you pumping or breast trying to breastfeed?

Taryn: Yeah, so I was pumping during all this, um, which was just a whole added layer of fun, cuz that's always exciting.

Nicole: The labor of love, I call it

Taryn: The labor of love, but thankfully we were breastfeeding was kind of the one thing with Eleanor that came easy. So as, as annoying as pumping was, I, I wasn't like super stressed with it. It was something that was, that was the one thing that was kind of what I was hoping and expecting it to be.

Nicole: Oh, that's good. That's good. That's good. So how were you managing to take care of you during this crazy time?

Taryn: I definitely wasn't and I paid the price for that. I think once she came home, I think I just, you just go into survival mode and it was weird because I would see her laying in this bed and I knew that she was a baby and the person that was there for that baby, but I didn't, it didn't feel like she was my baby. And you have to remember, this is like, I didn't, I didn't physically see her or touch her for three or four days. And even at that point I'm like touching the bottom of her foot that doesn't, it's like the one part of her that isn't connected to a million and one things. So there was this huge disconnect because I was pregnant and then I blacked out and my baby was in a different state. So it, I, it was really hard for me in that sense. And I didn't like mentally take care of myself until she came home. And then I was kinda struggling a lot with like anytime she would be separate from me, I realized I had a lot of anxiety and things like that. So I, I didn't take care of myself nearly as well as I should have as I should have in that moment. But I had to do a lot of that after.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Did you get any therapy or support groups or anything like that? Yeah, I, what did you find helpful?

Taryn: Yeah, again, I, I do it all when I do it. So I do all of the NICU support groups. I could find support groups I could find. And then I saw a couple of different people to chat with. Um, they were, it was all virtual because of COVID, but that was really helpful for me. Um, and a lot of, a lot of what I had to work through. And, um, I'm sure it resonates with not only NICU moms, but C-section moms or really any moms was just the guilt that I had attached to it. Um, I was expecting this whole process to go one way. Like I wanted a management free birth and this beautiful natural experience. And I had the exact opposite of that. So just like wrestling with the guilt of like, I failed my body or my body failed me and I in turn failed, Eleanor, just kind of dealing with all of that guilt and shame that came with it.

Nicole: Right, right, right. And then do you feel like you got any help from your doctor's office at all? Or was it the typical kind of six week checkup and that's it?

Taryn: Yeah. Um, sorry. I did mean to laugh when you

Nicole: It's it's it's the laugh of like, oh yeah, like, I got nothing. I'm guessing you got nothing.

Taryn: Yeah. Yeah. I got, it was really sweet. I got in a phone call, I think two or three days after I deliver or after I left the hospital right around that time from the delivering doctor. And I remember it just being such, probably an awkward phone call for her, because I'm sure she called with the best intentions, like how are, how is everything? And I'm reporting with like the worst possible news that I could bring her. Um, but I thought that phone call was sweet, but other than that, like there, it, it, I don't think I, yeah, there was not the level of support from my doctor that I think you would.

Nicole: Yeah. So it wasn't like it wasn't like, we'll see you back in a week to see how you're doing or

Taryn: No, I, they, I think they wanted to, but I think they were respectful of like everything that we were going on. So they, I, I was on a couple of different, um, antibiotics with the infectious disease people. So I had, they wanted me to call back in like two weeks or like do a telehealth appointment, but I don't, I don't ever remember scheduling or doing that. But they had said there were some things that they wanted me to do before my six week appointment. But again, I don't think I actually followed through.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. I mean, you had a lot of other stuff going on too as well. So how long do you feel like, um, like it took for after she came home for you to feel like better about things and having this baby and all of that stuff?

Taryn: I think it's, it's definitely something will always have to work through. There, there are definitely aspects that I still struggle with and some that are got a lot better, so we to leave the NICU, um, or at least to leave our NICU, you have to do like a rooming in, and that's kind of when your baby is yours for 24 hours. So like you, you do everything. And I remember at that point, like feeling confident in my ability as a mom and this was now a month in and I, I felt like, okay, I can do this. And that was kind of the first time that I really connected with her and, and knew like, felt like she was my baby and knew that I was set up to do this. Um, so that part, I will say came before I left the hospital. But, um, there are also some other parts that are still like, when I have conversations about it. I'm like Geez Louise. We went through that plan to have a large family and my husband and I like just recently have been able to wrap our heads around, like maybe considering having another. So, there's just areas that you don't realize you're still kind of working through until they pop up.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And then has she been doing okay like developmentally and all of those things?

Taryn: She has actually, before I hopped on this call, I was nursing her and I was just staring at her and telling her, like, you fought so hard to be here and I'm so proud of you. Um, and she's just amazing. She developmentally is right on track, if not ahead of where she's supposed to be. Um, she, I don't know if it's me projecting my anxieties on her separate. So at first, um, I went back to work and she was at a Montessori school. Um, but it just, it wasn't working for us. Like she wouldn't eat and wouldn't sleep. So there'd be days that I picked her up and she drank like ounce of milk all day and slept for 15 minutes. So we took her outta that school and, and I stay home with her now. So I think that is the only area where, um, we're both still kind of working through it. Maybe not where you would be is that we, we can't really be separated.

Nicole: Gotcha, gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah, that, that can be tough cuz eventually you're, you're gonna have to be.

Taryn: I know everybody tells me that. Nicole, it is so bad, like at target and my husband takes her or a different aisle. I'm like, no, she needs, I need to be able to see him and everything is we need to work through that at some point

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. You know, we're all works in progress as parents. It's a, it's a lifelong thing. Mine are 12 and 14 and it's still like, you know, I told my 14 year old the other day, like there's, you know, you're not leaving. Right. So she adamantly obviously disagrees and I know she has to, but it's like, you're not, you're not leaving. So. Alrighty. Alrighty. So just to wrap up, what is the one piece of advice that you would tell other women, like your favorite piece of advice that you would tell them as they get ready for their birth?

Taryn: Um, I think, I think it would be, so I, I don't know if this is allowed, but I think I have a couple answers and one would be if you're the type of person who thrives on, like knowing all the outcomes and educating yourself, then like dive into that wholeheartedly. Um, I remember I was listening to your podcast and you had done an episode with a NICU doctor and started that like four or five separate times. Um, and each time I was like, well, I don't need to listen to this. I'm not gonna have a NICU baby. Like it's just not gonna happen. Um, and something forced me to finish it and I'm so happy I did because she had mentioned like asked the little, the little wins for the day and that was all I really got us through for a while there.

Taryn: Um, so if you're someone who thrives on education, just, just even if it's not what you're expecting and, and planning for your birth, there's no harm in listening or, or researching kind of the different things that you're, that are out there. Um, and then the second would be to trust your gut, no matter what. Um, I look back a lot and I wonder, um, what would've happened if I would've just trusted my gut and not gotten induced and not tried to control every aspect. So I wish I wish that I could have kind of just trusted myself a bit more. Um, so those would be my two pieces of advice for everybody.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Gotcha. I can't tell you how many people have messaged me and told me that, that NICU episode they did the same thing, skipped it and then went back to it because they needed to, you know, so it's, um, it's one of the reasons why I put all of this, these things out here that I know necessarily folks will need right away. So, um, I'm glad that you, you, you found it helpful and um, cuz yeah, the NICU is, it's a whole 'nother, uh, beast. You never quite, never quite forget it.

Taryn: Yeah. And, and you never prepared for it. At least I knew that NICU was a place, but I'm like, oh I have absolutely like you just don't know until you're there. It's

Nicole: All it totally is. It totally is. Okay. So where can women connect with you and you know, where if you want to online?

Taryn: Yeah. I mean, I, I, I'm not the most exciting person in the world, but I have an Instagram account and it's Taryn three N's underscore it up. It's a high school, Instagram handle. Um, awesome. But I post lots of Eleanor on there, so you'll see. So you can see her,

Nicole: Love it, love it, love it. Well, thank you so much for agreeing to come on and share your story and like all of the ups and downs, the joys, the, the, the tough parts. And I'm glad that you and Eleanor and your husband are doing, doing well now.

Taryn: Well, thank you so much for me. It's been a pleasure.

Nicole: Yeah. Thank you for letting me be a part of it with, I'm glad that you know, the podcast and the course were in some way helpful to you too.

Taryn: Yeah.

Nicole: Wow. Wasn't that a great birth story episode. She and her baby were both quite sick and I'm glad that they are doing well because it certainly could have ended differently. Now, you know, after every episode where I have a guest, when I do something called Dr. Nicole's Notes, when I talk about my top three or four takeaways from the conversation, and here are my Dr. Nicole's Notes for my conversation with Taryn. But before I get into the Dr. Nicole's Notes, let me tell you something really quick. That's important about this week's episode sponsor Ellement. I had the pleasure of chatting with the founder of Ellement and listen, let me tell you all, she is so incredibly passionate about this company and takes a very serious approach to this prenatal supplement. Ellement provides a tailored prenatal supplement for each person, whether you have certain dietary preferences, a high risk pregnancy, nutritional deficiencies, like low iron or vitamin D even certain health challenges.

Nicole: And every 30 days, they can adjust your protocol to make sure that what you're taking is a perfect fit for you throughout your journey. In addition to that, they have exceptional ingredient quality, no fillers, no additives. And the packaging is even eco-friendly too. So visit helloellement.com that's Ellement with two L's, E L L E M E N T. Helloellement.com and join their wait list today. All right. Let's hop into Dr. Nicole's Notes. So the first one I wanna say is that I've said this before, and I'm gonna say it again. I just feel like I've underestimated the impact of COVID on people's pregnancy and postpartum experience, like the mental gymnastics of trying to figure out how to do things. So you can have the most optimal experience during your pregnancy and birth protecting a new baby after your baby is born. I don't know that I have anything to offer to help through that.

Nicole: I just wanna say that my heart goes out to all of you that have had, or having your babies during these crazy COVID times, because I know it is a lot to manage. All right. Number two, if you aren't happy with your doctor, if you get a bad feeling, something isn't quite right, then definitely switch. If you need to. Taryn had a weird experience, um, in her doctor's office and it just didn't make her feel good. So she switched because it just didn't feel right. And I can tell you, I have never met anyone who regretted switching when something in their gut, when in their intuition said, I need to switch to something new, that something doesn't feel right about where I am. So it is never too late to switch. And if you're thinking of switching, the earlier you can do it the better.

Nicole: So switch to a new doctor, a new midwife. If you feel like the one that you have is not working for you. If you are looking for a sign, this is it. All right, number three, it may take time to connect with your baby. Taryn mentioned that it took a little bit for her to connect with this human being. Her experience was maybe a little bit disorienting and overwhelming, and it just took some time to connect. Well, let me tell you that can be the case even during a time when things are quote unquote normal, sometimes it just takes a little bit to connect with your baby. You're both human beings. You're both figuring things out. So give yourself some grace, if you need some time to connect with your baby. And then the final thing that I will say is about the Birth Preparation Course.

Nicole: She mentioned that this was the only one that her husband would do too. This is one of the great benefits of the Birth Preparation Course is that you and your partner can do it together. It's all online, all of the materials there, so you can access it when you want. Um, most folks kind of cast it to their TV or look at it on their TV. Um, so, and husbands really do enjoy it too. So check out all the details of the Birth Preparation Course at drnicolerankins.com/enroll. I would love to see you there. Oh, and also I wanna be sure, you know, the link to the NICU episode that was mentioned. So many people have said that they found that episode helpful it's episode 76 with Dr. Terry Major Kincaid a neonatologist. And that is drnicolerankins.com/episode76. Okay. So there you have it, do me a solid share the podcast with a friend.

Nicole: If you like it, it helps me to reach and serve other women and subscribe to the podcast wherever you're listening to me right now and leave a review, in Apple Podcast, if you can, I'd love to hear what you say, and it helps other women find the show. Last thing, come check me out on the gram. I'm on Instagram @drnicolerankins, where I post lots of helpful information there. I occasionally do live sessions there as well. So if you wanna connect more, come follow me on Instagram @drnicolerankins and do check out this week's episode sponsor as well Ellement go to helloellement.com so you can hop on their wait list today. So that's it for this episode, do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and birth.