The first thing Meghan Ringlein thought when she woke that Tuesday morning was that something was wrong with her baby. Ben was due the next day but didn’t seem to be moving as much as usual.
“I wasn’t sure what it was. I just sensed that something was wrong,” says Meghan.
She already had a scheduled office visit that morning at Plymouth OB/GYN, so she pushed aside her concerns.
Once at her appointment, Dr. Mark Banister determined that Ben had a good fetal heart rate. Meghan felt better. Anticipating that Meghan would go past her due date again, Dr. Banister began to schedule a nonstress test to check on Ben’s health for Friday, three days away. A nonstress test is a common prenatal test used to check on a baby’s health.
At the mention of the test, Meghan again felt uneasy. “I finally told Dr. Banister that I wasn’t sure, but it didn’t seem like Ben was moving and I was worried,” she says.
Dr. Banister immediately called the birthing suite and told them to conduct the test. As Meghan made her way to the suite she doubted herself.
“I realized that since the fetal heart rate was good, and I was already scheduled to return on Friday, I probably didn’t need the test,” she says. “I thought I might be overreacting and not myself in these final days of pregnancy.”
Despite that Meghan has been an OB nurse at Speare, she didn’t want to be a bother if it wasn’t necessary.
She called her husband Nick to see if he was waiting to bring her home. He wasn’t at the hospital yet.
“Since he was late, I changed my mind again and went for the test,” Meghan says.
The nonstress test would provide information about Ben’s oxygen supply by checking his heart rate and how it responds when he moves. Normally near the end of pregnancy, a baby’s heart beats faster when he moves.
They conducted the test. Ben wasn’t moving. They conducted a second test and realized that Ben was in trouble. Dr. Banister ordered a bedside ultrasound to measure Ben’s breathing and amniotic fluid.
Meghan was shocked by the results. There was no amniotic fluid and there was a reverse flow in the umbilical cord.
“Before working as an OB nurse at Speare, I worked with high-risk pregnancies at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and had never seen a reverse flow before,” says Meghan.
Dr. Banister said she would need an emergency C-section.
“My OB experience has taught me the importance of having a great OB and Pediatric team at the time of birth,” says Meghan. She and Nick were happy to see Wilma Hyde, APRN, from Plymouth Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine walk in. Wilma has years of experience and had even cared for Nick when he was a child.
Upon birth, Ben was silent. His heart was not beating, and he was not breathing. The team leapt into action. He was given oxygen through a tube under his little nose. Within eleven minutes, he was stable enough to be moved from the OR. Three hours later he was whisked off by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock for monitoring and stabilization. He was home four days later.
“I had the best team possible,” says Meghan. “Dr. Banister, Dr. Ebner, Wilma, Terry Copsey, nurse anesthetist and the labor and delivery nursing team were all amazing.”
Meghan holds back tears when she remembers how the Speare team moved so effortlessly in her time of crisis.
“They just made me feel so proud,” she says of her teammates. “It was an unexpected OB situation, but everything went so smoothly that it is a happy memory for us.”
They learned that the umbilical cord had extra tight coiling that resulted in a large blood clot forming just inches from Ben.
“If I hadn’t trusted my instinct and voiced my concern, I wouldn’t have had the nonstress test. If I didn’t have that, I would not have had the ultrasound. Without the ultrasound, we wouldn’t have known about the reverse flow and there would have been no C-section. I would have waited until Friday and Ben would have died,” says Meghan.
“I am just happy that I had the expertise of the team at Speare. Without them, I wouldn’t be holding my little newborn right now.”