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During wife's pregnancy, deployed dad connects via virtual visits
Three days after Sgt. Michael Mizer deployed to Southeast Asia, his wife, Heidi, found out she was pregnant with their first child.
Even though he was more than 5,000 miles away, Sgt. Mizer was still able to experience many pregnancy milestones with Heidi, including their prenatal appointment in July when the couple heard their daughter’s fetal heartbeat.
That special moment was made possible thanks to “virtual visits” via computer, offered for the first time this summer by MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital.
"When I heard the heart beating, I asked Heidi, ‘Is that yours?’ And she said, ‘No, that's MacKenzie's,’” Sgt. Mizer said. “I had to stop for a second and hold myself together. That's when it went from being surreal to becoming real.”
Watch: OB CareConnect video
During the middle part of a pregnancy, a woman can choose to have virtual visits instead of traditional office visits. Appointments alternate between virtual visits via computer and scheduled visits with an obstetrician at his or her office. The woman signs in to a computer anywhere she has Internet access, then chats face-to-face with her health care provider. The expectant mother takes her own vital signs and uses a Baby Beat Doppler to hear the fetal heartbeat. The advanced technology increases convenience, and is just one of the many new options for pregnant women at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital.
“I think it’s great for the mom, because we have that one-on-one time with no interruptions,” said Malinda Carlile, ARNP, with MultiCare’s OB Care Connect program. “We’re able to perform the same assessment, and it’s not as rushed. They don’t have to take time off from work. If they have kids, they don’t have to find a babysitter or bring them along to the office visit.”
For the Mizers, that also meant that Sgt. Mizer was able to log in and take part during the visits, even though he was half a world away.
“When we talked about having kids, we knew that I was going to miss out on some of something, or some of something else,” Sgt. Mizer said. “I'd rather miss out on part of the pregnancy than part of our daughter's first year. But I didn't miss nearly as much, thanks to the virtual visits."
Heidi liked the convenience of not having to take time away from work for office appointments in the middle of the day, because the visits are tailored around an expectant mother’s schedule. That also meant that Heidi didn’t have to travel 45 minutes each way to office appointments.
“The virtual visits sounded appealing, in that I could literally do it from home before work,” Heidi said. “They were convenient, and that’s what intrigued me the most. I’m not kidding when I say I’m not a tech-savvy person, but the virtual visits couldn’t have been easier.”
Sgt. Mizer was able to return home about a month before Heidi's due date. When Baby MacKenzie was born in October, she completed the family reunion.
To learn more about pregnancy and newborn care, visit http://www.multicare.org/home/pregnancy-newborn-care.
Posted on Oct 30, 2012 in Women's Health