Sommer Haynes enjoys a tender moment with her sons who were conceived through in vitro fertilization and born at Greenwich Hospital.
Every time Greenwich Hospital welcomes a newborn, a gentle lullaby plays throughout the facility. And with nearly 2,700 newborns delivered each year, the lullaby has become an extremely familiar tune.
While every birth is celebrated, the two times the lullaby welcomed the sons of Sommer Haynes and her husband were especially joyful occasions. Both babies were conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Haynes twice managed gestational diabetes, and both deliveries were by caesarean section. “I’m so thankful for the entire team of wonderful doctors and nurses,” she said. “Everyone was very supportive and accommodating.”
Although not every woman needs the wide range of maternity services that have made Greenwich Hospital a preferred destination in the region, it is comforting to know they are available before, during and after pregnancy.
Patricia Basciano, RN, nurse manager, Maternity, and Caterina Violi, MD, an obstetrician, are on the team that welcomes close to 2,700 newborns each year.
The hospital’s comprehensive maternity services, from fertility treatments to maternal fetal medicine and obstetrics, lead to healthy outcomes for mothers and babies. In fact, Greenwich Hospital received the 2020 Women’s Choice Award as one of America’s Best Hospitals for Obstetrics for the seventh consecutive year.
“It starts from the moment expectant parents first visit our maternity department,” said Patricia Basciano, RNC, nurse manager of the unit. She cited, for example, the variety of family-centered programs offered to first-time parents through the hospital’s Tender Beginnings program. “They include childbirth education, new moms groups, baby care and breastfeeding classes,” she said.
Basciano also referred to the state-of-the-art labor and delivery area, the private mother-baby rooms and the well-baby nursery. Every newborn receives a series of tests to determine general health, but for those who require extra care, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit provides round-the-clock treatment by physicians, nurse practitioners and nurses specially trained in neonatology.
Those practitioners are part of a large specialty team of physicians – including fertility experts, maternal fetal medicine specialists, obstetricians, anesthesiologists
and pediatricians – as well as specially trained nurses, breastfeeding experts, genetic counselors and ancillary staff. The team collaborates with local obstetricians who refer patients from Fairfield and Westchester counties as well as New York City.
“It is an honor and privilege to work with a group of such talented, dedicated and skilled healthcare providers,” said Caterina Violi, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist who has delivered hundreds of babies at Greenwich Hospital for more than two decades. “They do an amazing job working together, which really improves the outcomes for mothers and babies.” Women and their babies are also welcome to return to the hospital within 48 hours for a postpartum checkup.
The journey begins
Barry Witt, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and medical director at Greenwich Fertility, helps couples and individuals fulfill their dreams of parenthood.
Dr. Violi brought both of Haynes’ sons into the world, yet their mother’s journey began well before then. When she and her husband married in 2015, Haynes was in her late 30s, an age at which the risks of a successful pregnancy can be higher. “I had two miscarriages, back to back,” she recalled. “After going through that, I decided to visit a fertility clinic.”
A friend recommended Greenwich Fertility, which is affiliated with Greenwich Hospital. Barry Witt, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist, knew that Haynes could conceive, so treatments for infertility were not deemed necessary for her or her husband. Because of her age, however, he administered tests to ensure that her ovaries were producing eggs adequately and her uterus and fallopian tubes were normal.
Haynes also had a thyroid test, which indicated a risk for pregnancy loss, so Dr. Witt prescribed a very low dose of thyroid medicine. “Her main risk for producing an abnormal embryo was age-related decline in the quality of eggs and resulting abnormal chromosomes in the embryo,” he said. “In fact, her previous miscarriage was documented to be a result of a chromosomal abnormality.” Based on Haynes’ age and history, Dr. Witt recommended IVF. During an IVF procedure, the woman receives fertility drugs to help produce several eggs, which are removed during a minor surgical procedure and then fertilized with the man’s sperm. This results in one or more embryos, which are grown in the laboratory, typically for five days, and then either transferred into the woman’s uterus or frozen for future use.
“Sommer’s embryos underwent preimplantation testing to allow us to choose embryos that were chromosomally normal before transferring them back,” Dr. Witt explained. “This is the critical part of the IVF treatment for a couple with recurrent pregnancy loss, as it significantly reduces the risk for another miscarriage. Sommer underwent a frozen embryo transfer and thankfully conceived on the first try.”
Help for at-risk pregnancies
Then Haynes’ care began under Dr. Violi, who considered the pregnancy to be high-risk because of her age and miscarriages. “We monitored her very closely and conducted a number of tests on her and the baby,” she said. A blood test, routinely done at about 24 to 28 weeks, revealed abnormally high blood sugar levels and a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, which can put both the mother and baby at increased risk.
Haynes was referred to Diana Adams, MD, one of Greenwich Hospital’s maternal fetal medicine physicians who care for women with high-risk pregnancies. These specialists also assist women who are experiencing healthy pregnancies and want to prevent complications. Haynes initially met with Claire Carter, RNC, MSN, coordinator of the hospital’s Maternal Fetal Medicine services. Carter is a certified diabetes educator who helped Haynes to understand and control her gestational diabetes.
Along with maintaining a healthy diet and regularly exercising, Haynes monitored her blood sugar four times a day. “My levels were not low enough, so I eventually had to inject myself with insulin once a day,” Haynes said. At 38 weeks, she began having nonstress tests and ultrasounds twice a week to check the baby’s health. “Sommer was phenomenal in managing her diabetes,” Carter said. Dr. Violi ultimately delivered a healthy baby boy by caesarean section.
During her IVF procedure, Haynes froze two additional embryos. One was implanted less than a year after her first son was born. As often happens, she again developed gestational diabetes, leading to a similar routine as with her previous pregnancy and another son by caesarean section. Asked about the third embryo, Haynes said,
“We’re planning to have a daughter next spring.”
“Sommer went full circle in using the vast array of subspecialties available at Greenwich Hospital,” Dr. Violi said. Her experience, although not typical, demonstrates the high-caliber expertise and collaborative approach that has earned the institution its great reputation. “The word is out,” Dr. Violi added, “that this is a great place to have a baby.”