Motherhood At Last


From ACOG - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - May, 1999

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Barbara Nesbitt: "How are you?"

Dr.Shanahan: "Good, Barbara, and you?"

Barbara Nesbitt: "Good to see you."

Dr.Shanahan: "Good to see you too, it's been two years since ACOG in Vegas."

Barbara Nesbitt: "We're in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and it's ACOG time again. Kelly's here - you all know her as Dr. Kelly Shanahan of Lake Tahoe, California - and since we saw you two years ago, you were hooded and you were brought into the college."

Dr.Shanahan: "I was inducted as a fellow."

Barbara Nesbitt: "A fellow, and you've done something else exciting."

Dr.Shanahan: "I've done some other inductions - I had labor induced and had a baby this past year."

Barbara Nesbitt: "Now the girls have followed you because you suffered from the loss of two babies before you gave birth, and you also had infertility treatments."

Dr.Shanahan: "Right."

Barbara Nesbitt: "So they're all familiar with what you've gone through."

Dr.Shanahan: "Yes, through my story - my saga - and the difficult road that it sometimes takes to achieve the goal of having a baby. But it's a road that's well worth all the pitfalls and potholes."

Barbara Nesbitt: "You came out on the women's health forum at some point, and you shared - I remember reading that post - what was going on in your life; you shared it with other women."

Dr.Shanahan: "Right, because I didn't have people that I could talk to in Tahoe about this, and I was feeling so alone. I felt like there was no hope, that I would never have a child, and I posted to the forum about how I'd had my second miscarriage. I think all of you were at a meeting, I remember Roberta told me that, and the support that I got and all these other women who've gone through the same thing helped me so much to have the courage to continue with infertility treatments and to try again, because I was very afraid to try again."

Barbara Nesbitt: "I have had four children and never a miscarriage, I wouldn't even know … Here we are again, and in those two years - you do have a little surprise."

Dr.Shanahan: "I have a little surprise, and I'd love to introduce to you, to my family, my daughter - Hunter Catherine Shanahan Turney."

Barbara Nesbitt: "Oh my God, look at you, look at you."

Dr.Shanahan: "Say hi. She's going to want to eat the microphone."

Barbara Nesbitt: "Are you going to sing for us? She is absolutely gorgeous, has the biggest blue eyes, and looks like her mother. I don't know what Jeff had to do with this but she looks just like you."

Dr.Shanahan: "Thank you."

Barbara Nesbitt: "She is beautiful."

Dr.Shanahan: "Of course - I think she's the most wonderful baby on earth."

Barbara Nesbitt: "I think she's gorgeous. So then you had her, you went through nine months and you used to share with us that you were frightened."

Dr.Shanahan: "Yes, I was a high-risk. Stop eating the microphone."

Barbara Nesbitt: "Oh, she says it's a lovely microphone."

Dr.Shanahan: "I was a high-risk pregnancy. I had to do heparin shots for 36-weeks, twice a day, and then I ended up having my labor induced because we didn't think she was growing. She's 5 ½ months old and you would not believe it looking at her now, but she only weighed 5 lbs. 13 oz. at birth, and she has gotten to be this big chunket of 17 lbs. on breast milk."

Barbara Nesbitt: "On breast milk."

Dr.Shanahan: "And recently carrots. We think we have a little bit of carrot on our outfit."

Barbara Nesbitt: "I breast fed my kids, and you always hear - are they getting enough milk? I used to hear all those horrible stories. She's a breast-fed baby, you're a working mom, and you went back to your practice…"

Dr.Shanahan: "Yes, I went back to work when she was 7-weeks-old."

Barbara Nesbitt: "How did you handle that?"

Dr.Shanahan: "I pumped - I got a very good breast pump, and I pumped a few times a day. I'm down to two times a day now, but I would pump every time she should be nursing. We went through some trauma of getting her to take the breast milk through a bottle, but now she's surviving. I was worried because she lost weight, she dropped down to 5 lbs. 6 oz. when she was 36-hours-old, and I thought - oh my God, I'm not going to produce enough milk. So being a doctor, I just took her over to the hospital and weighed her. And at a week of age she was up to 6 something, surpassed her birth weight, and I thought - I guess I'm making enough milk."

Barbara Nesbitt: "Yes, and you know another fallacy - and I don't know wherever it came from - is that they're not getting enough, and it scares everybody, but in reality breast fed babies notoriously lose weight the first week or two."

Dr.Shanahan: "All babies - formula fed and breast fed."

Barbara Nesbitt: "But they sometimes blame it on the baby not getting enough food. She sure looks wonderful."

Dr.Shanahan: "She's healthy, she keeps me more than busy."

Barbara Nesbitt: "How are you pulling off being a full-time mom, a full-time physician, and a full-time wife?"

Dr.Shanahan: "According to my husband, I'm not doing so well in the wife thing. He cut himself a few weeks ago, and I was suppose to take the stitches out of his arm seven days later. It's about ten, twelve, or fourteen days later and he said, "So what am I, number fourteen on your list of thirteen things to do?"

Barbara Nesbitt: "Sure, he should have made an appointment."

Dr.Shanahan: "I said, "You're number fifteen."

Barbara Nesbitt: "Number fifteen - I think he should have called the office, made an appointment, and came in like everybody else."

Dr.Shanahan: "It's not easy combining all of those things, but it's do-able."

Barbara Nesbitt: "No, there's a funny thing that having had four kids, I guess I can go back and remember. They want them more than anything in the world, and love them more than anything in the world, but there is a jealousy thing there. Look at her - she's listening. Especially with that first baby, they're not used to their attention with and from you all of a sudden going off in another direction."

Dr.Shanahan: "Jeff's done very well, I couldn't have asked for a better husband and father. He adores his daughter, and he watches her when I'm in the office on Saturdays."

Barbara Nesbitt: "That's beautiful."

Dr.Shanahan: "I wished he'd come out here with me this trip."

Barbara Nesbitt: "Yes, that would have been nice, and we would have loved to have met him. So, you're going to stay working…"

Dr.Shanahan: "Yes, continue working, continue doing the things I do on the Internet, but if people are wondering why I haven't been on the forum very much lately - this is why."

Barbara Nesbitt: "This is the reason, now one last…"

Dr.Shanahan: "As you can see, she doesn't sit still very well."

Barbara Nesbitt: "Tell me how having become a mother has changed your feeling, if at all, towards your pregnant patients now that you've actually birthed a child yourself."

Dr.Shanahan: "I now understand that overwhelming love that a mother has for her children, which I never understood before. On the other hand, I think I'm actually less sympathetic to complaints because I threw up every day for six weeks, I had varicose veins, I had all those pregnancy discomforts, and you know the goal at the end is so well worth it. I remember one day I had a patient with varicose veins, she was complaining, and she worked as a cocktail waitress. I said to wear support hose, and she said, "It's summer, it's hot." I pulled up my pant legs, and I said, "I'm wearing them." So I understand the complaints more but I'm probably less sympathetic to people being really, really whiney about them."

Barbara Nesbitt: "That's probably why those male doctors are so good because they haven't suffered through it. The thing that I think that you probably feel now, and you tell me if I'm wrong, I bet you now feel that fear that pregnant women, myself included, always have especially towards the end. Will I really get this baby, will it really be alive, and will it really be all right?"

Dr.Shanahan: "I think I understand those fears more, and the patients know that they can always call and say, "You know, I'm a little scared about something." And I'll say, "Come on in, lets check the baby out."

Barbara Nesbitt: “Because we have a real love of an unknown, our baby to-be, we are so afraid. Even going into labor, you are afraid that that ultimate moment of a live baby will not happen."

Dr.Shanahan: "You always worry that something will happen. My labor wasn't too bad, I wasn't afraid of the pain although I did end up getting an epidural. I was just going to walk in and the baby was going to fall out."

Barbara Nesbitt: "They didn't have them when I had babies."

Dr.Shanahan: "But yes, I understand the fears more, and I think I'm a little more respectful of the fears that moms have than I was before."

Barbara Nesbitt: "Hunter, do you have anything you want to say to the people besides eating the cord?"

Dr.Shanahan: "She says, "I want to eat the cord."

Barbara Nesbitt: "She wants to eat the cord. Here's a breast-fed baby, a working mom, a medical professional physician - and here's our little OBGYN miracle."

Dr.Shanahan: "Yes."

Barbara Nesbitt: "Thank you, Kelly."

Dr.Shanahan: "Thank you, Barbara."

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