Birth Story
June 24th 9:00 PM

Elizabeth Marie's Birth Story: Danielle had an ultrasound scheduled on Thursday June 14th. After the ultrasound, she had bouts of contractions that night and throughout the next day. She also experienced some questionable fluid and thought it might be amniotic fluid. After calling the doctor, he said to sit tight at home and wait things out a little longer until contractions picked up more. Things really seemed to pick up by Saturday morning. Danielle and Ben headed to the hospital and arrived around 11:00 am, eager for Elizabeth's arrival.

On Saturday June 16th, Danielle was checked for progress at the hospital and was just 1 cm dilated, but the doctors noticed that baby Elizabeth wasn't responding well to the initial contractions. After Danielle received some fluids, Elizabeth's condition stabilized, and the doctor gave Danielle the option of going back home or staying in the hospital and inducing labor. This was a hard decision for Danielle and Ben to make. An induction was not something that Danielle had planned, but she was so ready to meet baby Elizabeth! Doula Jessica arrived around this time and Danielle had the option of doing some walking before getting hooked up to all the monitors. Grandma & Grandpa McCullough arrived at the hospital around 1:30 as well.

At 2:30 pm, Pitocin was started. Danielle was experiencing a lot of "back labor". While she was still somewhat comfortable, she laid in bed and watched the movie "Meet the Fockers." Nurse Maryann gave her a peanut ball to help relieve some back pain and to help baby Elizabeth move into a better position. Danielle rotated from side to side, and she started to become more and more uncomfortable and still was experiencing mostly back pain. Doula Jessica gave her a hand massage to try and distract her. The doctor came in to check on Danielle's progress around 4:30. The check showed Mommy was still only 1 cm dilated. At that point, she felt a little discouraged and began considering an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in and discussed the procedure with Danielle and Ben. He was concerned it wouldn't help her back pain that well. Danielle decided to take the chance and get some relief! It was a great decision! Visitors left and Danielle received the epidural around 5:00 pm. Grandma & Grandpa returned; Danielle & Ben enjoyed some family time.

Danielle was checked again by the doctor around 6:30 pm, and she had made a lot of progress and was now 4 cm dilated. The doctor broke her water after the cervical check. It was discovered that there was some meconium in the amniotic fluid. The doctor was not overly concerned about it though.

New nurse Ashley came in at 7:00 pm and Grandma & Grandpa returned. Danielle began to feel some pressure about an hour later and was checked by the doctor. Danielle had progressed to 9cm! The doctor said she would check on her in 2 hours or to let her know if she felt constant pressure. Less than an hour later, Danielle felt more pressure and was fully dilated! She began the process of "laboring down," which meant her body would help baby Elizabeth descend into her pelvis without her having to work to push. After an hour passed, Nurse Ashley emptied Danielle's bladder and she began some "practice pushing." Danielle "labored down" again since she was still pretty numb from the epidural, which was then turned down. Danielle began feeling more sensation as well as an itchy sensation. She began pushing again around 12:30 am. She pushed for over an hour with little progress. Dr. Labella thought that baby Elizabeth was not in a good position to be born vaginally and suggested a C-section. Danielle and Ben felt that this was for the best at that point. Ben put on an outfit of scrubs so that he could be with Danielle, and Danielle was soon wheeled back to the operating room to be prepped for the delivery around 2:00 am.

Elizabeth Marie Niebel, was born soon after at 2:45 am weighing 8 lb. 8 oz. and was 22 inches long. Ben was able to hold Elizabeth right away. After a while, Elizabeth was able to be with Danielle in the recovery room. Elizabeth was so content to be in Danielle's arms!


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November 3, 2019

They Grow Up So Fast
October 24, 2019

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August 10, 2019

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August 1, 2019

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July 17, 2019

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Baa! Baa!
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July 4, 2019

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June 2, 2019

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May 27, 2019

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March 17, 2019

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March 13, 2019

First Christmas
December 25, 2018

Splash Splash
December 13, 2018

First Real Food: A Banana!
December 2, 2018

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October 9, 2018

Elizabeth Gets Her Cast
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March 28th 1:00 PM

Christopher Patrick's Birth Story

Written March 28, 2020 - Christopher Patrick is 5 days old.

We woke up early on March 23, 2020 so that we could arrive at West Penn Hospital by 5:30am for our 7:30am scheduled c-section. Although hospital security was tightened down due to Coronavirus precautions, we were able to proceed to the hospital's labor and delivery wing following a quick bag inspection and after answering a few questions regarding any fevers, coughs, or recent travels. Nurses immediately began prepping Danielle for surgery, and we met with all of the doctors who would be assisting with the delivery. Right on schedule, doctors took Danielle back to the surgery room at 7:30, and Ben put on his scrubs so that he could observe the operation.

Prior to surgery, doctors determined that the baby was properly positioned for smooth extraction. However, once the initial incisions were made, baby boy quickly spun into a transverse position with one hand and one foot protruding out of the incision while Danielle's uterus tightened around the rest of his body. This provided some additional challenge for the doctor, and it required her to make an additional incision - but at 8:13am Christopher Patrick Niebel, our beautiful baby boy, was born.

Looking back on Elizabeth's birth story, we have often commented about how very little went according to our carefully drafted-out birth plan. For Christopher, it was a relief for almost everything (from our perspective) to go as planned. Other than some nausea following the birth, Danielle felt strong and she healed well. It was much nicer to have Christopher's c-section scheduled for first thing in the morning, without hours of labor beforehand.

Our stay in the hospital proved to be much different than our stay with Elizabeth. Although we spent the 2.5 days on the same floor of the same hospital, we couldn't have visitors to our room due to COVID-19 precautions. Even Ben's ability to enter the hospital was limited to the hours of 7am-7pm. The nursery was closed, so nearly all tests and procedures were performed in our room, which was nice for us to be able to observe.

Since Christopher passed all of his infant examinations and Danielle was healing well, we were able to return home just after noon on Wednesday, March 25. Christopher's grandparents and big sister, Elizabeth were eagerly waiting to welcome us home.

During the past several days, Elizabeth has been a good big sister who has been happy to share her toys and food that he is too young to appreciate. She gets anxious when Christopher cries during his diaper changes ("too loud") or whenever he takes too much of mom's or Patty's attention ("Daddy hold baby brother"). We look forward to lots of family time together (in quarantine) over the upcoming weeks, and we really look forward to when we can take a family trip to the zoo, a museum, or to visit out-of-town family!

21 Months Old
March 17th 9:00 PM

Likes: Barney, videos of herself, markers, cheese, zebra cake snacks, "new seat" (booster seat), blue jacket with pockets, and her set of 4 books about good manners

Dislikes: when something goes wrong or when something doesn't work right (just like her dad!)

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