Abigail Degner

Abigail Degner

Abigail and Nick Degner’s twins came early.

Abigail had been in pre-term labor for almost 7 weeks, with occasional contractions. When she started spotting, she called the Women’s Health Center. They sent her and husband Nick to the Birth Center.

“We expected to get monitored and sent home again,” Abigail says. Instead, OB/GYN Ngoc Vu, MD started planning a transfer to Abbott Northwestern Hospital, with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for premature babies.

When the ambulance arrived, Abigail was in labor – too painful for her to lie on the stretcher. She had dilated to 8 centimeters in less than an hour. “Dr. Vu said, ‘You’re not going to Abbott; you’re having the babies here,’” Abigail says. “I thought, ‘Right now?’”

Yes. Right now. One baby’s heart rate was dropping. Abigail needed an emergency cesarean section.

“They kicked Nick out of the room,” Abigail recalls, and wheeled her into surgery. “They must have had five nurses out there with me,” Nick says. “It meant a lot, because I would have lost my mind otherwise.”

Colton and Sterling were born at 31 weeks, 5 days. “They didn’t cry at first,” Abigail recalls. “I didn’t know they were even born, because they were so quiet.”

When Nick was brought into the operating room, “It was tough seeing the boys in two different corners, and Abi in the middle,” he says. “I didn’t know where to be.”

Neonatal specialist Sara Gergen, MSN, CPNP-PC, NNP-BC led the team caring for Colton and Sterling. Nick was with them; Abi was still recovering, and wouldn’t meet her sons for a few more hours.

“A nurse came running in to me and said, ‘Baby B’s eyes are open! I need your phone to take a picture for you,’” Abigail says.  

Colton and Sterling were transferred to Children’s Hospital, where they spent six weeks in NICU. During pre-natal visits, OB/GYN Deb Suppes, MD had prepared Abigail and Nick for this possibility: “She prepared us mentally that if they were born before 35 weeks we’d get separated, so when it happened it wasn’t a huge shock.”

“It went the best it could for the situation it was,” Abigail says.

Abigail and Nick asked to have the twins transferred back to Northfield Hospital, to be closer to home. “We felt we would have gotten as good or better care than Children’s, based on the experience we had at Northfield Hospital,” Nick says. (They stayed at Children’s. NH+C partners with Children’s and other hospitals for specialized care, so all patients get the right level of care they need.)

Now home and healthy, the twins are growing well, and growing into their personalities. “Sterling is more serious, and Colton is more chill. They’re both happy, and the sweetest babies,” Abigail says. Big brother Dominic dotes on them.

Abigail is grateful that Dr. Vu and nurse Jen Schuhmacher, RN paid such close attention to her cues early on: “If they didn’t, the boys would have been born in the ambulance.”

“For a doctor we never met and who didn’t know Abi, I’m blown away that Dr. Vu did this so well,” Nick says. “Dr. Vu went above and beyond. She visited Abi afterwards, and gave me a hug several times. She cared about how we were feeling. She’s not your typical doctor.”

Abigail and Nick also credit Birth Center nurse Davi Carlson, RN; Women’s Health Center nurse Katie Matheson, LPN; patient advocate Angelina Holder, RN; and nurse anesthetist Sarah Monson, CRNA with exceptional care and attention.  

Their advice for families expecting twins? “Buckle up,” Abigail laughs. Nick adds, “Remind yourself that other people have done this too. Remember that it’s a blessing.”

Times two.