Sawbones: Our Birth Story


This week on an unconventional Sawbones, Dr. Sydnee and Justin tell the story of why it took them a week to get their baby out of the hospital.

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Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Charlie is lucky to have such wonderful parents

Thank you for sharing your story. It made me cry. And then little Charlie's happy noises made me smile.

A little late to the party

I just got around to listening to this episode and man it hit home. When I had my 3rd he was born via c-section and had to stay in the NICU for a 7 day round of antibiotics for a very similar reson. Seeing him in the NICU hooked up to machines and IV's was terribly hard to deal with even knowing it wasnt a "serious" issue espically compared to the other babies there, but being discharged and leaving the hospital without him was one of hardest things I have ever had to do. I would have liked to stay for the whole week, but then mommy guilt kicked in having 2 more at home.

Concrats New Mom & Dad

I loved hearing your story!!!
It reminded me of my first days, weeks of being a new mom.
My experiences was nothing like yours. But the feelings were the same.
I wanted everything to be perfect and the strong drive to do ANYTHING for the baby.
31 years later I still remember how strong those desires were
You both are going to be GREAT parents....You already are....

Thank you for sharing this

I had a very, very similar birth experience, and this brought back floods of memories (the thrill/terror of the moment they take off the monitors, in particular, I'd forgotten until you mentioned it - and yes, I hope it's encouraging that it all *does* eventually fade). I think you're so right about preparing even if you don't think you'll need the NICU and hate the idea; that was really the biggest difference between our stories - I had preemie twins, and was in the hospital for 7 weeks between when I first went into labor and when they were born. As hellish as they may have been, those 7 weeks gave us ample time to prepare for what was going to happen once they came, so we had a plan for my husband to go with them and for my mom to tag-team him to stay with me in the OR, and he'd already toured the NICU and had some familiarity with it. We had the same experience you did of feeling like no one was accustomed to parents wanting to be involved, or even be there - it made me wonder what the norm is for NICU parents. The whiplash between the "it's best for them if you do kangaroo care as much as possible" instructions and the "...but touching will wear them out, as will feeding, pooping, changing diapers, bathing, and anything else, so you can't touch in the 60-minute window around each of those events" is baffling.

Congratulations on a healthy, wonderful baby (and on finally convincing my husband that a little girl named Chuck is the cutest thing ever... too bad it's two years too late).

Thank you for you candid story

I wanted to thank you both for sharing this touching and honest story about what can happen when things don’t go as planned. As a pediatric cardiologist and a mother I have been on both sides of the fence. I often have to explain to unsuspecting parents that their baby isn’t stable enough to go home (or worse that he/she needs surgery). Although I had always been sympathetic, I didn’t realize how devastating that news must be until I became a parent myself. In my version of the birth story, I was wholly prepared for any complications that might come up with the baby but not at all prepared for what actually happened - I had to be re-admitted to the hospital on post partum day #3 for pre-eclampsia. Although nothing can prepare you for these types of hospital experiences when you are a new mother, I recommend this episode to all expecting parents. This is a beautiful reminder to parents that while it is important to have a “birth plan”, it’s also important to have a “worst-case-scenario plan”. And if things do go amiss: stay strong, be the child's advocate while still entrusting the professionals to give your child the best possible care. Love the show, keep up the good work and CONGRATULATIONS!

So Good!

Honestly, I put off listening to this as I foolishly thought that I would be bored, but this was very interesting (I guess I forgot how well Justin and Sydnee tell stories). I'm so glad ya'll listen to your doctors, not that I expected anything less from a graduated medical student and her husband. You're gonna be such great parents!

Thank you so much!

I wanted to thank you guys so much for sharing your story. Among my lady friends and I (sorry to exclude you, dude friends) this is a major topic of conversation-- home birth, hospital birth, drugs, etc, etc. I feel like hearing someone talk so openly and frankly about their experience is fantastic and will help everyone (including me) to be less judge-y about everyone's choices! I really respect and appreciate that you guys shared this! Thank you so much!

Congrats! And way to be great parents

Hi J and S. Just wanted to write and tell you how wonderful your episode was to listen to. First, I'll get it out of the way and tell you I cried when Sydnee said you guys stare at Charlie now that she's home. I imagine it's surreal and scary and kind of like you just exhaled for the first time in ten years. Really, I wanted to complement you both for your fair and even-handed description of your time in the NICU. It speaks to your professionalism and your character and I really admire that kind of strength. And thank you so much for sharing this experience with everybody who listened, with me. You've both always come across as incredible people--and if you can do that over the Internet, Charlie is one lucky kiddo to know you in real life.


No Judgment

First, congratulations on your new addition! I'm so happy that although things didn't go as you had hoped, there is a happy ending to the beginning of Charlie's story.

Something you said really resonated with me. You said that you didn't want to hear any second-guessing about the choices that you made during your delivery and the first week of Charlie's life, as you will spend the rest of your life reliving them. It makes me so sad that people feel free to comment on the difficult choices that people make. When it comes down to it, we all need to make the choices that are best for us.

My husband and I recently decided that because we want to be sure that we don't have children, it would be best for me to have a tubal libation. I experienced significant complications as a result of the procedure, which meant we ended up having to tell more people than we had intended to about the surgery. The judgment and comments we have been subjected to are unbelievable.

I hope that people who listen to this episode, and hear the difficult choices you had to make, will think twice before they offer their unwanted commentary. It's hurtful and unnecessary.

Thank you for sharing your story of Charlie's eventful entry into this crazy world of ours. Someday she will treasure that episode; not many children are given that kind of gift. You guys are going to be amazing parents.

Welcome to the world, baby!

I'm so glad to hear that everyone's OK. Sydnee and Justin, it sounds like you're taking fantastic care of your daughter. I just hope that you've got someone who can help you take care of yourselves, too.


Thank you for your story! I really liked hearing it, even if it's not the usual Sawbones episode. And can we have little Chuck in future episodes? Pretty pretty please?

I Am Confoozed!

OK - So, according to Ridley Scott ("Prometheus") a woman who has had a C-section can run and jump and battle alien monsters within 30 minutes of having the procedure. . . but what I hear from you presents an entirely different paradigm - I WANT ANSWERS, PEOPLE, AND I WANT THEM NOW!

Congratulations, you two.

Keep us laughing! :-)

Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story

Thank you so much for sharing your birth story. When I had my first baby I was a nurse-midwife working at a birth center, hoping for a water birth. My pregnancy was perfectly normal until 33 4/7 weeks, when my water broke. Instead of a water birth at my birth center I got an ambulance ride to the tertiary care facility and 2 weeks with a baby in the NICU. Having a baby in the NICU is an incredible roller coaster ride, even if you're relatively well-informed. It's so hard not to blame yourself when your baby's sick.

When I was having my second baby, I was monitoring my cervical length because I was worried about having another preemie. At 32 weeks my cervix looked fine but she was still breech. I spent the next 5 weeks doing everything I could to encourage her to turn: hanging upside down, visualization, meditation, moxibustion, accupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, anything I could think of. I was scheduled for an external version when my water broke. Long story short, with my first child I had natural childbirth and a preemie that spent two weeks in the NICU. With my second child I had a cesarean and we both went home the next day. The only moral I can come up with is that childbirth is unpredictable.

I'm so glad to hear that both of you are now doing well, and I really appreciate your telling us about your experience. Good luck to you in the future.

Congratulations on Charlie's

Congratulations on Charlie's arrival!
You were both so gracious in your storytelling, in making space for other people to have different experiences and feelings. I hope that everyone around you does the same. I found unsolicited advice one of the hardest parts of being a new parent, whether it was a random stranger telling me he should have a hat on or relative telling me that he'd sleep through the night if I formula fed him (with the implication being that's what I should do). You are both thoughtful and eloquent people who have made lots of good decisions in the past (or at least that's how you seem!), and I'm sure you'll do great here, too. Courage, and best wishes.

Congratulations on your birth!

I've been an addicted listener of Sawbones for a year. I am a certified Birth Doula working in NYC for 3 years and having attended 38 births. When I knew you were pregnant I wanted to contact you to see if you had seen the ACOG report on the use of a birth doula. I didn't want to post like this, but rather just email to Sydnee, alas, I didn't find a way to do that.
Your birth experience is in the history books. You and Charlie are healthy and thriving. (cart wheels and joy here).
For your future, possibly a VBAC? A doula? Just want you to know there is tons of evidence to support your future births to be a very different outcome. congrats on every day you breastfeed. Our culture is backwards and thinks breast were made to attract sex, rather than to perfectly nourish our newborns(icon of boobs here). All the best to you all, keep your shirts off, Charlie loves skin (topless couple sandwiching newborn here).
Smiles and love,
Lori Rose, CD(DONA), CLC


Congratulations on the new addition to your family and a great episode.
I also want to thank you on one comment you made early in the episode. You said "For those of you wanting to offer us advise or to second guess our decisions ... well, we are not interested."
I feel like this advice should be splattered across the internet and placed on billboards in every city for everyone to hear about all births.
Once the baby is born second guessing parents choices is only creating harm.
Thanks for your story and the show and congrats again. As the parent of a 15 year old and a 7 year old you have a true gift (even when they are 15 and driving you crazy).


Congratulations on the new addition to your family and a great episode.
I also want to thank you on one comment you made early in the episode. You said "For those of you wanting to offer us advise or to second guess our decisions ... well, we are not interested."
I feel like this advice should be splattered across the internet and placed on billboards in every city for everyone to hear about all births.
Once the baby is born second guessing parents choices is only creating harm.
Thanks for your story and the show and congrats again. As the parent of a 15 year old and a 7 year old you have a true gift (even when they are 15 and driving you crazy).

How best to balance patient and doctor needs?

Thank you very much for sharing your story! This question is mostly directed at Sydnee:

I would really love to hear about lessons learned from this experience as a doctor. At the end of the episode, you both shared lessons you learned and things you'd do differently as parents and as patients, which I found really helpful. But I also wondered if this experience would change the way you would interact with patients in stressful situations like this. I guess what I'm wondering is, here's someone who's been on both sides of a pretty harrowing medical experience. How does she balance the emotional needs of patients with the medical needs of keeping-someone-alive? And how has that balance changed?

It might be too early to think about a question like this, and I hope it's not an intrusive question (if so, I'm really sorry). I think very few people will get through life without harrowing medical experiences, and I'm interested in understanding that balance.


Wonderful Show

Thank you for sharing your baby story and so glad everything turned out all right in the end. Congratulations on new baby Charlie. She is a lucky child to have the both of you.

Great Episode

I really liked this episode. It did deviate from the show's regular formula, but i think you had a lot of great advice to give based off of your experience. My second daughter ended up being born early and we then spent 2 1/2 months in the NICU, (we found out when she was born that she has Down syndrome). Being able to find other parents that have already been through it, and getting their advice, really helps for a lot of reasons. I think the unexpected happening during and after birth is something most don't prepare for, but it's a lot more common then prospective parents think. So any info that can help is always good. The adorably cute baby noises coming from baby Charlie were quite enjoyable to hear throughout this episode, as well.
Congratulations to the both of you! You're show is awesome and i am thoroughly addicted.

Great Show

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story with everyone. I'm glad Sidney and Charlie are doing well. You have nothing to apologize for in doing on episode on this. Especially since you guys revealed alot of things new parents go through that they may not, and possibly cannot, be prepared for, and offered great insight into how get through some of them. My wife and I had a similar experience with our last child, so I understand some of the feelings that Justin expressed about not being able to hold your baby right after birth or seeing tubes sticking out of your child. Again, great show and you guys keep up the good work.

I remember those feelings...

We had a similar birth story, with similar ups and downs. We went through the same emotions you described, and we can still remember them.

Good to know all is well.

Thank you Sidney and Justin

Thank you Sidney and Justin for sharing your story and congratulations on the arrival of Charlie!

My wife and I are expecting our own baby to be born in less than two months, so your story definitely made everything much more real (if slightly scarier!). It's the first time I've seriously considered the possibility of things not going right, but now I feel a bit more prepared and mindful because of your story.

Keep up the amazing work (particularly in the fight for vaccines) and I look forward to listening to future podcasts while when looking after the baby at 3am.


Great episode

I hear you on the dependence sources of "My baby is OK" feedback. My son had jaundice and would not nurse while on the bili blanket, so for 2 weeks I pumped, fed the milk to my son via oral syringe, and then topped him up with formula, noting times, ccs, spitups, etc all in a little notebook which I dutifully presented to the pediatrician every other day at his checkups. When he was finally was clear of the jaundice and I could nurse him, I actually contemplated keeping up this insane system of feeding just so I could be sure enough food was actually going into him. Turns out counting wet diapers is way easier.

Oh, and the kid is nearly 3 and I still check him every night to make sure he's breathing. Sometimes I can't tell and I have to quietly open the baby gate, tip-toe to his mattress over our squeaky 140 year old floors, and gently touch his tummy or lower back to make sure he is, in fact, still alive. Parenthood, it's a hell of a drug.

Birth Story Lessons

Thank you for sharing your story! I have to say, I really related to your experience. My son did no have I go to the NICU, but he developed extreme colic at around 2 weeks old. He cried 8 hours a day for the next few months, had trouble gaining weight, and want able to poop on his own until he was about 9 months old. He was crying a lot de to the pain in his Elle from chronic constipation. I can't tell you how hard it is to watch your new baby suffer like that for hour after hour every day for months. Well, I guess you guys understand now! A definitive diagnosis was never made, but he is 4 years old now and doing fine.

One thing you guys said is something I wish every prospective parent could hear: don't go into this mentally unprepared. Of course, no one can really be prepared for birth and parenting. It's a transformation akin to puberty, I think, but much faster. I think we all spend so much time thinking about the ideal scenario though, that we are ill prepared for the curve balls of actual parenting. You guys never have much thought to ending up in the NICU. I never have much thought to dealing with heartbreaking crying for months on end. I was doing everything right, so I assumed I would have a quiet baby, a great sleeper, healthy and strong. I had fears I course, but I didn't dwell on them much. Not that dwelling is a great idea either!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that parenting is not a walk in the park, it's a trek I. The wilderness. You will be more afraid, and tired, a confused than you have ever been. Some of us confront fearful times right away with our infant (being born and growing thought that first year of life are no walk in the park, either) but everyone will feel it at some point.


Thank you for making this episode! My wife works in the medical field and we have very similar feelings after having our children delivered in a hospital. It's very important for parents to understand that they are allowed to ask the nurses and doctors questions. We (my wife) were very informed prior to having our first baby, and we still struggled at times to get the hospital staff to slow down and explain what was happening in terms our sleep-deprived brains could understand.

I think medical professionals often deal with parents who are either totally clueless and can't be helped or who trust the institution to care for them without asking difficult questions. If you show them you have done your research beforehand, by asking intelligent questions, the good ones will respect your interest in your child's welfare and actually explain things to you.

Thanks again, great show!

P.S. - Justin, keep doing that dumb advice podcast. We need this, don't let the baby screw it up!

Home Safe

Glad Sydnee and Charlie are home and doing well!!!!!!!!


Dear Sidnee, Justin, and little Chuck,

Thank you so much for sharing your birth story. I am so happy that you have a beautiful baby girl at home.
My wife and I went through a 62 hour labor 13 months ago and it was a harrowing experience. We also ended up with a happy, healthy baby but there were definitely some scary moments and some tears involved. If you guys are anything like us I sure you will question many parenting decisions as they come up. I encourage you not to feel guilty about those decisions and do try your best to stay in the moment with that constantly growing baby! It is not always easy.
I hope y'all are taking some well deserved time off. Enjoy that baby!