May 6, 2020

Expect the Unexpected: A Traumatic Journey Ends with a New Baby

Wood Family

Paige Wood, Ryan Neff, Layla McCoy and baby Oliver

By Cheri Hinshelwood

Paige Wood was expecting a new baby in a couple of weeks, but what she wasn’t expecting was the phone call that came the last week in June. Wood learned her husband, Ryan Neff, had been in a traumatic skateboarding accident and was being flown to Mission Hospital with serious injuries.

The next 12 days were long and tiring for Wood, who hardly left her husband’s side. His extensive leg injury resulted in four leg surgeries during what turned into a 17-day hospital stay. Wood, who was 39 weeks pregnant at the time, had some decisions to make about her care and the delivery of their baby originally planned for another hospital.

Setting Goals

“Our goal was to be together no matter what,” said Wood, about their birth plan before her husband’s accident. “After Ryan’s accident, my biggest concern was that I was going to have to do this delivery alone.”

It wasn’t long into her husband’s hospitalization that Wood decided to explore Mission Hospital’s Labor and Delivery Unit. She met Mary Cascio, RN, the nurse manager of the Labor and Delivery Unit, explained their situation, and took a tour.

Cascio kept in regular touch as Wood’s due date approached, checking in to answer questions while Wood visited her husband.

Mission Hospital offers specialized care for moms and babies in the surrounding 19 counties. Three units, including one specifically for moms with complications or high risk factors, work together to provide the expert care moms and babies in the region sometimes need. The Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is one that particularly gives parents peace of mind.

Mission Moms and Babies

• 4,000 births occur annually at Mission Hospital
• Mission Hospital was the first baby-friendly hospital in North Carolina, designated in 2005
• Mission Hospital is home to the region’s only Level III NICU, caring for babies from 19 surrounding counties
• Maternal/Fetal Medicine Unit meets specialized needs of moms and babies before birth

Change of Plans

Cascio and her team realize they are part of a once- or twice-in-a-lifetime happening for families and take that very seriously.

“People remember the day their baby was born for the rest of their lives,” said Cascio. “Even little old ladies will tell you about the day their babies were born.”

Once Wood decided to deliver at Mission and transferred her care there, Cascio’s team got to work coordinating between providers and units within the hospital to plan for Neff’s involvement in the birth of his baby, even while he continued recovering in the neuro-trauma unit.

“We know we’re part of a forever memory for families, and we want it to be a good one,” said Cascio.

Chance Happenings

One nurse caring for Neff had previously been a doula or birth coach and comforted Wood while she visited the neuro-trauma unit. Another nurse now working in Labor and Delivery had transferred from the neuro-trauma unit where Neff was recovering. Needless to say, coordination between these two units was seamless.

Leading up to the big day, Neff’s care, medications and transfer were planned so he could be part of the delivery while continuing the care he required to heal. Both teams worked tirelessly to make it happen.

“To be able to see Ryan with his son for the first time and look over and see his face meant everything,” said Wood. “We were both in hospital beds, but we were together. That’s all that mattered.”

“During delivery, their hospital beds faced each other,” said Cascio. “He was a part of everything.”

Baby Oliver was born July 8, 2019, and weighed a healthy 8 pounds, 14 ounces. “I’m very thankful and grateful they went out of their way to provide that experience to our family. We have those memories, and it’s more than I thought we were going to get,” said Wood.

Mary Cascio, RN, is the Director of Women’s Services at Mission Hospital.

Expecting a baby? Learn more about the maternity and NICU services, plus sign up for childbirth classes at