"My mom told me I had crazy hair when I was born and my son had crazy hair when he was born,” said Laura Van Schaick-Harman, a Patchogue resident who gave birth to her first son, Samuel, at St. Charles Hospital on September 5, 2014. But an unruly coif is not the only thing this mother and son had in common at birth.
“The experience of becoming a Mommy for the first time was extra special because I was also born at St. Charles,” said Laura.
In January 2014, Laura and her husband, Andrew, received the good news that they were expecting a child. The couple knew they had a choice in where to give birth so they decided to take a tour of St. Charles to see the unit and meet the staff.
“We fell in love,” said Laura, “We thought it was very comfortable and small enough that it wasn’t going to be overwhelming. Also, St. Charles supported breastfeeding, which we wanted to do.”
Although Laura was sure about which hospital she wanted, labor was a new experience for her and she did not recognize the signs at first.
“On September 4, as I walked out the door to a La Leche league meeting, my water broke but I didn’t realize what was happening,” she explains, “I went to the meeting anyway but started feeling a little uncomfortable. I called my husband, who works in the city, and my obstetrician, Dr. Patton. I went to Patton’s office, because it is down the road from St. Charles and he said, 'Yes, you are in labor.’ My mom brought me to the hospital, and my little brother, actually.”
Laura’s labor lasted through the rest of the day and into the night.
“We were there long enough for two shift changes, two different sets of nurses through labor and the actual pushing. Everyone was really supportive,” she said.
Baby Samuel finally arrived at 10:58 a.m. on September 5, weighing a healthy 8lbs 5oz. Laura and Andrew were as overjoyed with their new baby as first time parents often are. But Laura recalls how she struggled in those first few hours to get Samuel to breastfeed.
“Of course it was really upsetting. Trying to get your baby to eat and you just went through labor and birth. All night long he wasn’t eating, he wasn’t latching. But every time we needed anybody, they were there to help. One of the nurses made a suggestion that completely worked, and once she showed us how to do it, we were good. We were really happy about the breastfeeding support we received.”
In addition to breastfeeding, Laura bonded with her baby by “rooming in,” having Samuel stay with her in her room, rather than in the nursery.
“We kept Samuel with us almost the entire time and my husband slept over, which was really helpful,” said Laura, “We loved the dinner for two and that is much needed because it’s a lot when you come home with a newborn. We also loved the breakfast buffet. Not to have to worry about some of those outside things was great.”
“We were cared for so lovingly. We want all our babies to be born here,” Laura concluded.