January 2021

Twin Blessings: Beaufort Memorial Physician Delivers Healthy Babies at the Height of Pademic.

Author: Marie McAden | Photographer: Charlotte Berkeley

Tiffany and Mike Bersani at home with Ellis and Eleanor.

As an OB-GYN with Beaufort Memorial Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialists, Dr. Tiffany Bersani has reassured her share of anxious expectant mothers. But it wasn’t until she was pregnant herself that she experienced first-hand the worry and concern that comes with carrying a baby—or two, in her case. Not only was Bersani pregnant with twins; they were due at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last April.

“I was a nervous Nellie through my entire pregnancy,” the 31-year-old conceded. “I had so many things going through my mind.”

Now nine months after delivering a beautiful boy and girl at Beaufort Memorial’s Collins Birthing Center, Bersani still frets about the health of her babies. “My motherhood instincts have kicked in, and I worry about everything,” she said. “Did the babies poop? How much did they eat? How much did they sleep? I’m on it all.”

As a child growing up in a small town in Upstate New York, Bersani was always interested in science. By the time she got to high school, she had decided on a career in medicine. After graduating summa cum laude with a B.S. degree in biology from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, she enrolled at SUNY Upstate Medical University with the dream of becoming either an OB-GYN or pediatrician.

“In my first year of med school, I shadowed a physician and watched him deliver triplets by caesarian section,” she said. “He let me do some cutting and suturing, which made me feel like I was really involved. It cemented my decision to become an OB-GYN.”

It was during her years at the Syracuse med school that she met her husband, Michael, at an Irish pub. “He was standing in front of where you hang your jackets and he says I knocked into him,” Bersani recalled. “I swear there wasn’t a bump, but we’ve been together ever since.”

The couple married in 2017 in the middle of her four-year residency at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Fresh from her medical training, she started her first job in the summer of 2019, working with four other physicians at Beaufort Memorial Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialists, seeing patients in both the practice’s Beaufort and Bluffton offices. A month later, she got the good news that she was pregnant.

“I took a home pregnancy test and called Mike into the bathroom to check it with me,” she said. “We both thought it was positive, but we weren’t 100 percent sure. So, we went and bought four different pregnancy tests, and all of them came back positive.”

Over the course of the next several months, she rotated through all of her partners for her prenatal care. Bersani had planned to work until she was ready to deliver but altered her plans when COVID-19 began spreading throughout the U.S. “In the beginning of the pandemic, we were operating blindfolded,” she said. “We didn’t know how the disease would affect pregnancy or if it could be transmitted to the baby.”

Not wanting to take a chance of being exposed, she stepped back from the practice around the end of March. “I wish I knew then what I know now,” Bersani said. “Today, I can tell my patients that studies have shown the overall risk of COVID-19 to pregnant women is low. But because the immune system is a little suppressed during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of getting infections. That’s why we recommend getting a flu shot.”

A day before her official due date, Bersani’s water broke, sending her into labor that morning. She pushed through her contractions for 16 hours, determined to deliver the twins vaginally. Unfortunately, her cervix wouldn’t dilate, forcing her to have a cesarean section. “The recovery after a vaginal delivery is much quicker so I was stubborn about it,” she said. “I finally threw in the towel at 1 a.m.”

Dr. Christopher Benson, who was on call that day, delivered Ellis at 1:16 a.m. and Eleanor four minutes later. Due to visitor restrictions at the birthing center, only Bersani’s husband was allowed to enter the hospital. Her parents were left to see their new grandchildren through a hospital window. Two days after the birth, the new parents took their tiny babies home.

“Nothing quite prepares you for caring for newborns, let alone newborn twins,” Bersani said. “The 24-hour-shifts I worked during my residency didn’t come close to the sleep deprivation I experienced feeding two babies every two hours.”

While Bersani continues to nurse her babies, she is back at work and in a more normal routine. “I’m always tired, but it is so worth it,” she said. “This is my life now, and I love it.”

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