June 19, 2020

First-time fatherhood during a pandemic

Becoming a parent during COVID-19 can be nerve-wracking, but Cody Maki was reassured by the care his family received at Kaiser Permanente.

Proud father Cody Maki holding his son, Liam.

Having his first child during a global pandemic wasn’t exactly what Cody Maki had planned. As a toxicologist in a clinical laboratory, he understood better than most people the risks of COVID-19 and had looked up all the data he could find on the risks of the virus for children.  

But when Hawaii’s governor issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 23, just a week before the baby’s due date, Maki knew he needed to rise to the occasion.

“I wanted to be a rock for my wife, Kelsey,” he recalled.

Baby Liam receiving care in the hospital.

Baby Liam receiving care in the hospital.

Taking precautions to protect patients while providing care

Maki was reassured by the precautions already put in place at the Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center, where Kelsey would deliver their baby. “They’d started temperature screening in January and had added extra hand sanitizer stations all over the hospital. And the maternity ward has its own floor, so we knew the risk of being around any patients or staff who had been exposed was low.”

Everything looked good going into the delivery, but after 16 hours of labor, the physician overseeing Kelsey’s labor, ob-gyn Sarah Hutchison, MD, performed an urgent cesarean section. “We want our mothers to have uncomplicated vaginal births whenever possible, but sometimes it’s not,” she explained. “The fetal heart rate monitor showed that the baby’s heart rate was dipping every time there was a contraction, which is sometimes a sign of stress and a fairly common indication that a cesarean is necessary.”

Dr. Hutchison began the C-section and quickly discovered the reason for baby Liam’s distress — the infant was tangled in the umbilical cord. After the birth, Liam continued to have trouble breathing on his own and was sent immediately to the neonatal intensive care unit, where Judd Boloker, MD, and a team of clinicians spent a week monitoring and caring for him.

To minimize the risk of coronavirus infection, only one of Liam’s parents could visit him in the NICU during any 24-hour period. “It was hard because Kelsey and I both wanted to be sitting next to him the whole time, but we understood the precautions,” said Maki. 

Advice for new and expecting parents

Now back home with his healthy, rapidly growing son, Maki is loving his new role as a dad and is grateful for the excellent care his family received during the coronavirus pandemic. “Our nurse midwife, Bonny Hinz, was a huge support during the whole pregnancy. Dr. Boloker from the NICU took the time to answer all our questions and explain everything that was going on. The doctors were wonderful, and our nurses really went above and beyond for us during our entire stay.”

Maki had a few words of advice for new and expecting parents during this pandemic. “It’s so easy to get caught up in everything that’s going on right now. I’d just say trust your doctors and the hospital staff, and don’t let your fears get in the way of enjoying as much quality time with your family as you can.”

Learn more about COVID-19 and pregnancy and Kaiser Permanente’s maternity care.

The Maki family – healthy, happy, and home together.

The Maki family – healthy, happy, and home together.