Special Report: Baby FaceTime

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Devon Marnon and her family are FaceTiming with her newborn daughter, Elizabella.

Bella was born yesterday with respiratory problems. She's in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sparrow Hospital, and the Webberville mom is two floors away.

"I miss her every second I'm not with her," Marnon said.

Bella could be in the hospital for days or weeks, after Marnon's been discharged. That's where FaceTime technology comes in, fostering a virtual connection when families can't be in physical contact with their new bundles of joy.

"It's really nice because then the mom who's not physically there with the baby can see the whole admission process," said Kathy Marble, NICU department manager. "She can watch the baby have the leads placed on his chest and watch the first bath."

Right now, this iPad technology is only available at Sparrow in Lansing. The idea is, down the road, to use it at outlying hospitals as well.

"If we have a mom that's had a c-section let's say, up in Mt. Pleasant, she's an hour away," Marble said. "She probably won't get down here [to the NICU] to see her baby for at least three days."

In the meantime, when that mother's newborn is in the NICU in Lansing, she would be able to FaceTime with her baby, communicating with the nurse, too.

The iPads also help when it comes to visitors.

"We have a real restriction on visitation in the NICU, especially during cold and flu season," Marble said.

Siblings and extended family who aren't allowed inside the NICU are able to FaceTime from the waiting room.

"It really does help bring the family together," explained Marble.

"It means a lot to me," said Marnon, of using the technology for the first time.

Right now, Sparrow has four iPads in use at the hospital, but families can use their own iPads or iPhones, even leaving one with the baby to be able to FaceTime whenever the family wants.

"There's nothing like watching that mom watch her baby on that iPad when you know she can't physically be with her baby, but she can really bond through the use of technology," Marble said. "It's pretty cool."

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