One year after bringing new life into the world in the middle of a global pandemic, first-time parents Kassie (33) and Riley (36) Prather reflect on the stellar maternity care they received at their local community hospital.
After roughly an hour and a half of active labor, pushing through painful contractions, Kassie became a first-time mother. The new mom from Woodstock gave birth to a 7-pound, 8-ounce baby girl named Pippa Breigh on July 1, 2020 at 6:54 p.m. at the Burdick Family Birthing Center at Day Kimball Hospital (DKH).
When Kassie found out she was pregnant with her first child in October 2019, she was ecstatic about this new chapter full of excitement and possibilities. Never would she have predicated a global pandemic was on the horizon.
Kassie’s pregnancy progressed normally, until three months in, the couple received news that their baby would be born with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease which causes recurring lung infections and difficulty breathing. Not only was the expectant couple faced with a rare but progressive illness with no known cure for their unborn child, COVID-19 was making headlines and starting to spread across the country.
The Prather’s new-parent experience was significantly altered by COVID-19. In ordinary times, there’s no shortage of things to worry about when you’re pregnant. Add in a global pandemic, and it’s natural for expecting parents’ anxiety levels to intensify. New parents typically welcome support from extended family and friends, but for many, including Kassie and Riley, the pandemic put a six-foot barrier in the way of that help. With rapidly changing regulations, quarantining, visitation restrictions, and the fear of contracting a deadly virus, the couple faced historic challenges of delivering their bundle of joy amid a once-in-a-century health crisis.
However, their fears and feelings of isolation were soon put to ease by the consistent, calm reassurance they received from DKH staff throughout their maternity care and stay at the Burdick Family Birthing Center. “The news of our baby girl’s diagnosis of cystic fibrosis devastated us, but we wholeheartedly believed that God had packed this tiny life with purpose. As we processed the massive amounts of emotion and information, and the isolation of having a baby in a pandemic, Day Kimball became an amazing resource,” said Kassie.
“The maternal fetal medicine team at Day Kimball Hospital were very diligent to stay informed about the latest research, and every appointment with the obstetrics team was kind and personal,” added Kassie. “When your world is rocked like that, you greatly appreciate medical professionals around you who do their jobs well!”
Kassie has also been spreading the word about the wonderful maternity staff at DKH. “I absolutely recommend Day Kimball Hospital to any expecting mothers. We were blessed to have such an amazing experience. The staff, the facility, the technology, the food, the procedures to keep everyone safe and healthy (even in the middle of a global pandemic)—all stellar. We’re glad they were all part of our story.”
The couple said they chose Day Kimball Hospital for a number of reasons. “First and foremost, we chose it because of its outstanding national distinctions and recognitions. Also, the hospital is conveniently located close to our home and the team there feels like family.”
"I was so thankful for the nurses who almost took a mom role with my wife,” said Riley. “Many of them had so much experience that they not only knew how to deliver the baby well, but to also care for Kassie physically, emotionally, and mentally. I was really impressed with how the staff helped us navigate some meltdown moments. We weren't names on a chart somewhere; we were people to care for. I left the hospital feeling empowered to provide for and lead my family because everyone poured so much into us while we were there."
Pippa will be celebrating her first birthday in just a few days, and according to mom and dad, “she’s growing like a little champ and continues to be surrounded by great doctors on her cystic fibrosis care team, which includes DKH pediatrician Dr. Marc Cerrone.” The couple have been enjoying their time with Pippa at their home which has taken on a distinctly pink character. “Our Pippa girl is so much fun to have around. Her smile is contagious, and we're growing more smitten with her each day. We like to think of her as the best thing to come out of 2020,” said Kassie.
Day Kimball Hospital’s Burdick Family Birthing Center offers the best possible care for labor and delivery, for new mothers and newborns, and provides highly specialized nursing care for babies around-the-clock, all with a family-centered approach and in a welcoming, home-like environment.
Located on the first floor of the Hale Medical Pavilion at Day Kimball Hospital, the Birthing Center includes seven beautifully appointed labor, delivery and recovery birthing suites, each equipped with state-of-the-art fetal monitoring and birthing equipment as well as many of the comforts of home.
The Birthing Center is staffed by a warm and caring team of board certified obstetricians/gynecologists, family practice physicians, advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), physician assistants, and nurses who have extensive experience in maternity and newborn care. The team of pediatric hospitalists and APRNs are specially trained in neonatal care and provide excellent care to newborns.
Day Kimball Hospital’s Burdick Family Birthing Center is designated as a Blue Distinction® Center for Maternity Care by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and has been recognized as a Baby-Friendly hospital since 2016, when it was named one of just six hospitals in Connecticut to hold the designation.
For more information on Day Kimball Healthcare’s OB/GYN and Maternal Child Health services, visit daykimball.org/patient-services/womens-health/.