Rachel’s Story

A teacher and mom-to-be stays connected with her second-grade class — even from the labor and delivery unit

Patient Stories
Rachel holding newborn son Graison

Second-grade teacher Rachel Patragas is dedicated to her students. Even after becoming a patient at Rush Copley Medical Center, she connected with her class virtually from the labor and delivery unit. 

Rachel’s baby, her first, threatened to arrive early — just 28 weeks into her pregnancy — so Rachel’s obstetrician, Marta Saj, MD, with Rush Copley Medical Group, admitted the mom-to-be in an effort to stop her premature labor. 

While on bedrest in the labor and delivery unit, Rachel spent time each day connecting with her second-graders from her virtual classroom. 

“I just kept my love for my students and my passion for teaching at the top of each day’s plans,” she says. “Interacting with my students and doing what I love really kept me going.” 

Rachel checked in with her class from Rush Copley every school day for two weeks before baby Graison made his debut, delivered by obstetrician Arin Ford, MD, Saj’s partner at Rush Copley Medical Group. Rachel then began her maternity leave, spending the better part of the next 31 days with Graison in Rush Copley’s level 3 neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. 

The level 3 NICU provides specialized care to premature babies, with highly skilled nurses and a neonatologist always present, helping these babies make the transition to life outside the womb. Although Graison never needed oxygen, babies born before 32 weeks are routinely given CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, to provide them with respiratory support. And because he weighed less than 4 pounds at birth, Graison needed to “eat and grow a little” before he was released.  

At discharge, Graison weighed almost 5.5 pounds, and Rachel is happy to have her baby home.  “He’s doing awesome,” she says. “He’s loving life.” 

And she “can’t say enough” about their experience at Rush Copley.  

“The care was so amazing,” Rachel says. “The labor and delivery nurses, the NICU care — it was phenomenal. We appreciated the kindness and expertise of everyone who cared for us. We were in such good hands.” 

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