A set of twins was delivered at Nantucket Cottage Hospital last week for the first time in nearly three decades.
Larkin Paige, a baby girl, and Beckett Joseph, a baby boy, were born at the hospital on June 14 to parents Robin and Chris Morris. They were the first twins born at NCH in 29 years, as the hospital had made the decision in the mid-1990s to stop delivering multiples due to the complexity and staffing necessary to safely bring them into the world.
But that streak came to an end last Wednesday as the Morris twins were delivered healthy and happy by cesarean section in the Nantucket Cottage Hospital operating room.
“It felt very controlled and very exciting,” Robin Morris said. “People were excited to be part of it. The energy in the room was great. To see the joy on Dr. Koehm’s face, and the nurses were as joyful as we were. I was blown away. I have so much respect for the medical community here.”
When Robin Morris discovered late last year that she was pregnant with twins, the emotions of joy and anticipation shared with her husband Chris in the ultrasound room at Nantucket Cottage Hospital were palpable. Those feelings were slightly tempered, however, when the ultrasound tech informed the couple that the babies could not be delivered on Nantucket.
“It was a gut punch hearing it wouldn’t happen on the island,” Robin Morris said. “Having such awesome care through Dr. Koehm and Dr. Blake-Lamb and our NPs, it was shocking to think they wouldn’t be involved in the end game.”
As she proceeded with her regular visits and check-ups at the hospital, Robin would drop subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints that she wanted to deliver the twins on Nantucket despite the hospital’s policy. But the answer was always the same: the twins had to be delivered at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
When Robin went to the hospital for her 36-week appointment, she was just coming to terms with the idea of delivering her babies off-island. And that’s when the conversation shifted.
“I said ‘Here we go, we’re going to Boston and what does it mean? What do they do’?” Morris recalled. “And Dr. Blake-Lamb said ‘Hold on. We have met as a team and everyone is in agreement that we can offer a C-section on-island.’ And my jaw dropped. I had been told throughout it would never happen on-island.”
For Morris, who had previously delivered a baby on the island, the idea of having her second and third children born as Nantucket Natives was important. The only decision she had to make now with her husband Chris was whether to try for a natural birth in Boston (even with a high likelihood that it would end up as C-section anyway due to the fact that the twins appeared to be in breech position) or take the Nantucket Cottage Hospital medical staff up on its offer to deliver the twins by C-section on Nantucket.
“To deny it would have been slapping the universe in the face a little bit,” Robin Morris said. “I had a bit of a struggle with it. I said to Chris that I had to get my head around the likelihood of a C-section (in Boston). If I have more pain and trauma, and they get to have a healthy birth, that’s a good trade. That’s what we do as parents. I can get over the fact it wasn’t my dream birth and it was not at home. To give that chance to our family and to the island, it’s such a big step forward.”
And so Robin and Chris Morris showed up last Wednesday at Nantucket Cottage Hospital around 5:30 a.m. and their twins were delivered in the hospital’s OR shortly after 8 a.m. A team of physicians - including Drs. Mimi Koehm and Tiffany Blake-Lamb - along with nurses, techs, and a respiratory therapist - were all present for the delivery, ensuring Robin and the babies had all the attention and care they needed. The Morris’ family physician, Dr. Derek Andelloux, also played a role, taking one of the babies after the birth so Koehm and Blake-Lamb could attend to Morris.
“It was thorough, but it still felt magical,” Chris Morris said. “It was just unbelievable, the teamwork aspect. Everyone was doing their job.”
Jeff Coakley, the Nantucket Cottage Hospital communications manager and public information officer, also applauded the medical staff for making the delivery possible.
“The possibility of complications with twins is higher, naturally, than a single birth,” Coakley said. "The hospital’s policy was less about the capabilities than it was staffing. You would want to have a number of team members available in the event of complications so for safety reasons, primarily, parents were advised to go to Mass General. In this instance, the mother was an excellent candidate. She was in very good health and very much wanted to have the babies on the island. It all came together. We had a full team, including the OR, involved, in addition to labor and delivery team.”
It is unclear whether the delivery signals a formal change in the hospital’s policy on delivering multiples moving forward. Coakley said the hospital management team would continue discussing that question in days and weeks ahead. He offered this official statement from the hospital:
"Nantucket Cottage Hospital was able to facilitate the successful delivery of twins at this time due to being fully staffed in all areas of the hospital that interact with labor and delivery. While we are hopeful to be able to do more twin deliveries at NCH, the ability to do so will be on a case-by-case basis depending on both staffing and, as with all our obstetric patients, safe clinical circumstances for parents and newborns."
For now, the Morris family and the hospital staff are simply celebrating the arrival of Larkin and Beckett.
“We’re obviously pretty excited that things turned the way they did and just thrilled with what happened over at the hospital,” Morris said.