For Hometown News
STUART -- For one Treasure Coast couple, the joy of finding out they were expecting a baby was tempered with the realization that the father-to-be would not be present for the delivery.
Sergeant Daniel Rasik was half way around the world serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan when his wife, Genevieve, was due to give birth. While disheartened that they would be apart, the expectant parents reached out to their doctor, Dr. Pete Papapanos with Physicians To Women of Stuart, with an unusual request to use Skype to bridge the distance and allow the soldier to witness the birth of his son.
Like many military wives, Mrs. Rasik understands the sacrifice her husband makes to serve his country. A Mortar Infantry Sergeant serving in the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, her husband is currently serving in Afghanistan for a third deployment, in addition to having served a tour in Iraq. Mrs. Rasik was reluctant to admit she felt any fear or sadness, along with the obvious joy, when she learned she was pregnant. She recognized that she would not be the first or the last military wife to give birth without the presence of her spouse, but she was thrilled when they learned they had another option.
The use of Skype during a delivery was a first for Dr. Papapanos and the Physicians To Women practice. While hospital rules generally prevent the use of any recording devices such as smartphones or tablets during procedures, Physicians To Women was open to the idea.
"We always try to do everything we can to meet the needs of our patients. We were committed to making it happen as long as we were able to follow proper medical protocols," said Dr. Papapanos.
On Nov. 13, 2013, Mrs. Rasik gave birth to a healthy 9-pound, 6-ounce baby boy via Caesarean section at Martin Medical Center in Stuart. While Sergeant Rasik was not physically present in the delivery room, his presence was felt as his intense gaze and proud smile could be seen via Skype on an iPad held caringly by family and Dr. Papapanos. Everyone could hear the supportive father's excited voice, even over the cries of the newborn child.
"While every delivery is special, this was one of the most emotional and memorable deliveries I've been involved with. To be able to have someone who is thousands of miles away serving our country watch his child being born - it was an amazing experience for everyone in the delivery room that day," said Dr. Papapanos.
Mrs. Rasik is looking forward to her husband's return at the end of his deployment this spring. Father and son will meet in person for the first time.
"It's difficult to put into words how incredible it was to have Dan there with us through Skype," said Mrs. Rasik. "I'm so grateful to Physicians To Women, Dr. Papapanos and the hospital for allowing us to do it. My husband has to sacrifice so much, but he didn't have to miss the birth of his child," she added.
Mrs. Rasik is busy caring for their new son and their one-year old twins. She hopes other military families will hear about her positive Skype delivery experience and be able to have access to the same opportunity so that no soldiers serving their country far from home will have to miss the change to see their babies being born.
For more information about Physicians To Women and the services they provide, visit www.physicianstowomen.info.