Rachel Estrella


Before her son Fin was born, Rachel had a miscarriage.

Before her son Fin was born, Rachel had a miscarriage. She’s grateful to the OB/GYN team for compassionate medical care before, during and after that experience.

“We had been to the doctor and there wasn’t a heartbeat, so we knew it was a miscarriage; but I hadn’t actually been through the process yet,” Rachel recalls. She was scheduled for a D&C (dilation and curettage, a surgical procedure to remove tissue after a miscarriage) when she began hemorrhaging in the middle of the night.

In the Emergency Department, doctors and staff stopped the bleeding and treated Rachel’s pain – physical and emotional.  

“It’s never good to have to be in the Emergency Department, but it’s good to know that when you come, you get the care that you need,” Rachel says. “It was compassionate care – not just that night, but throughout the process.

“Every OB/GYN that I’ve worked with at Northfield Hospital + Clinics has been wonderfully compassionate and understanding, during the process and beyond,” she says.

“Trying to figure out how this would affect my fertility going forward, talking to a doctor who can explain that and help you make that decision, and someone you can trust – a doctor that we felt comfortable with and who gave us what we needed in that moment. There’s no value you can put on that.”

Rachel was elated when she became pregnant with Fin. And nervous.

“I had some high anxiety during my pregnancy” because of the earlier miscarriage. “The OB/GYNs were very understanding and patient about it. Every one of them would take the time to do the extra scan or exam so I was reassured,” she says. Because Rachel associated the doctor’s office with her earlier loss, the nurses took her blood pressure at the end of each visit, when she felt calmer. When Rachel developed gestational diabetes, nutritionist Kristi Von Ruden, RDN, LD helped Rachel navigate her diet – and her dread of needles, for insulin. “You get this diagnosis and you don’t know what it means, and how you’re going to move forward, and you’re already anxious about the pregnancy – and she was just wonderful,” Rachel says.

Rachel worked with her OB team and the Birth Center to create a birth plan, as all expectant parents are encouraged to do. “Because of my personality and having had the miscarriage, we had a loose birth plan,” Rachel says. “I trusted myself to know what I would need in the moment, and I wanted to be flexible.”

Rachel went into labor on Thanksgiving. Her labor progressed slowly. Throughout, Rachel and Rafael and their birth team talked through options at every step: walking to promote dilation; pain relief; breaking her water; an epidural; medication to strengthen contractions; even sips of juice that Rachel worried would trigger her diabetes. “We talked through every step, so the process was manageable,” she recalls. “As long as the baby was doing okay and I was doing okay, we could keep going the natural route without a cesarean section.”

“As someone who was new to the process and nervous, I never felt pushed on any of the choices,” Rachel adds. “They always talked about each decision, and they answered my questions.”

By the time Fin was born, each of the OB/GYNs had been involved. Dr. Deb Suppes saw Rachel as she went into labor; Dr. Dana Olson delivered Fin. “I saw them all in the interim,” Rachel laughs.

“The Birth Center experience – every piece of it – was wonderful. The Birth Center tour, the education classes, the nurses who stayed with us: every piece of it was everything I ever hoped it would be. If we ever have another kid, there’s no place else we would have our baby than Northfield Hospital.”

Fin’s head was swollen and bruised from a long, challenging birth. Pediatrician Ben Flannery, MD “was the first person to see him,” says Rachel, who had not chosen a pediatrician and was impressed by Dr. Flannery’s calm reassurance. “He said, ‘It will probably heal well, but if the swelling doesn’t go down, here’s what we’ll do.’” She scheduled Fin’s two-day check up with Dr. Flannery. “To know that the pediatrician who saw him when he was born would also see him two days later, that was really reassuring.”

That office visit was reassuring, too: “It wasn’t just about how the baby was doing; he also asked ‘How are you doing?’ We appreciated that he took the time for new, anxious parents’ crazy questions,” giving advice that was as much for Rachel and Rafael’s confidence as it was for Fin’s health.

Since then, Dr. Todd Amunrud and nurse practitioner Sarah Gergen, MSN, CPNP-PC, NNP-BC have cared for Fin too. The whole pediatric team coordinates gracefully, Rachel says, so Fin’s care is consistent and familiar. “They collaborate on our behalf. At each visit, each provider knows his history so we can work together as a team on Fin’s care.”

“It’s so nice to go to the doctor, and also to be able to call with any question and they’ll take it to the doctor,” Rachel adds. “We can ask anything, and never having it treated like a dumb question – even when it’s a weird question, because we’ve had some,” she says. “We’ve always been given answers, plus more information to help us make our decisions. That lets us feel like we have the agency to make those decisions, which is especially helpful when you have a little one and you feel like everything is sort of new and a little out of control, and high stakes, because it’s your baby.”

Northfield Hospital + Clinics is “a wonderful organization,” Rachel says. “We’ve been here for some high-stakes moments in our lives. We feel comfortable trusting NH+C for that, and equally comfortable for small things – a fever, a cough, a question.”

One constant in Rachel’s experiences, big and small: a sense of partnership with her providers, to ask questions, consider options, and make decisions together.

The other constant? Emotional care at every turn, in the happiest moments . . . and the hardest.