Nurse, iPhone help new mom connect with baby

When Heidi King went into labor last June and headed to TriStar Summit Medical Center, she expected a pretty routine delivery. Everything in her pregnancy had been normal, and she was fiddling around on Facebook and texting as her labor progressed. Then everything changed — fast.

“I got a giant migraine, my blood pressure dropped and I began to get sick,” King says. “At that same time, my doctor walked into the room, looked at the monitor, threw my husband a set of scrubs and said, ‘Let’s go!’”

She required an emergency caesarean section, and her son went without oxygen for a short period of time. That meant that he needed specialized care at another HCA facility, TriStar Centennial Medical Center, so he was whisked away moments after his birth — and before his mother could see him. And shortly thereafter, Heidi underwent an emergency hysterectomy.

“All this was on my birthday, which was both the best and worst one ever,” she recalls. “Everyone was amazing, and they were working with my husband to make all the right calls because I was coming in and out of consciousness. I knew the baby was OK, that he was a beautiful baby boy, but that’s about it. Everything was really fuzzy.”

A unique solution

The next day she was more alert, and while her husband and family were bringing photos of her son, Brayden, she wanted to see him for herself. As he was still across town, and she was in no condition to travel, this posed difficulties. Enter Paige Whitaker, an SICU (surgical intensive care unit) nurse who was part of King’s care team.

“I heard what was going on, and I knew that she would be feeling really emotional,” says Whitaker, who had returned to work a few months prior after her own maternity leave ended. “I knew her husband was at the other hospital, and so I asked, ‘What about Facetime?’”

The iPhone camera-chat feature had seen heavy use from Whitaker as she returned to work, allowing her to see her own little boy when she was at lunch and on break. Pictures are one thing, but being able to interact was much better, she says.

“Being away from your child for 13 hours is hard; I couldn’t even imagine what she was feeling,” she says. “So we found someone on that end who had an iPhone, and we called that number from my phone. Heidi got to see her husband and baby together for the first time, and it was just a really nice moment for her. It’s one thing to be told your child is OK, but until you can lay eyes on him, it’s still really scary.”

King agrees, adding, “It was the first time I had really seen my child. It was a bittersweet moment because I wanted him with me, but at least I knew he was OK.”

After a few days, Brayden returned to TriStar Summit, and he and his mother went home a few days after. He had a bumpy start, but his proud mother reports that after neurological and other check-ups during the fall he now boasts a clean bill of health.

“Hooray for nurses who are tech-savvy, because I would never have thought of it,” King says. “I was just hoping to see my baby at some point. What Paige and everyone else was able to do for me was really neat.”