'I Gave Birth Alone Because Of COIVD-19. A Week Later, I Was In The ER With A Fever.'

When the receptionist at my ob-gyn’s office told me that my husband wouldn’t be allowed by my side while I was giving birth to our second child—that he wasn’t even permitted in the building at all—I hung up the phone and hugged him. Then we both cried.

I experienced a lot of mixed emotions in the hours following that call. First, I was angry and kind of bitter. At the same time, it felt right. For weeks, I’d been so worried about going to the hospital and being exposed to the virus—so I was relieved to know doctors were taking measures to minimize my risk.

Still, that didn’t make it any easier when my water broke and my husband then had to drop me off at the curb outside the hospital.

As soon as I got to the labor and delivery floor, I was stopped by hospital staff who asked me if I had been around anyone with COVID-19 and gave me a surgical mask to put on.

They didn’t take my temperature or do a nasal swab test to check for novel coronavirus infection. From there, I went straight into a delivery room.

When I was settled in, I took out my phone—which I’d packed in a Ziplock bag—propped it up on a table near my bed, and called my husband.

My doctor told me I could have my phone out to FaceTime with him, but no one on staff was allowed to hold it.

My husband stayed on the phone with me throughout the worst of my contractions, telling me to breathe and talking to me—or just hanging out in the background. Honestly, I don’t remember much, and at some point, we hung up the phone.

One nurse stayed with me through most of my labor to help me.Then, something terrifying happened. I got really nauseous and started vomiting.

The baby’s heart rate dropped. She also entered into the birth canal, and so the monitors couldn’t pick up her heartbeat. There was a minute or two where everything was very frantic in the delivery room, and I was terrified. Fortunately, they were soon able to detect her heartbeat again. She was okay. But I was told: “You need to push now.”

I quickly FaceTimed my husband and propped up the phone so he could (hopefully) see the delivery, but I didn’t have time to test out his viewing angle.

Later, my husband revealed that he’d had a view of part of the side of my face during labor.

Oh well, I tried. That was at 2:16 a.m.

Our daughter was born three minutes later, at 2:19 a.m on March 25. The nurse immediately put her on my chest and said, “She’s here!” That’s when I picked up the phone to show my husband our new baby. At around 4 a.m., we hung up to try to get some sleep.

Courtesy of Laurel Aquadro

Labor had been fast and furious, and I didn’t have much time to think about it. But in the recovery room, I was alone and felt isolated. (I had asked and paid for a private room, as I was afraid of sharing in case my roommate had COVID-19.) I tried to walk around the hall at one point but was shooed back into my room.

My daughter and I went home on Thursday afternoon, after I’d spent about 36 hours in the hospital. The next day, Friday, New York state announced that the decision to keep support people out of labor and delivery would be reversed.

The partner ban was put in place the day before I went into labor and lifted again the day after I got home from the hospital. What luck.

Initially, my husband and I felt bitter about our experience. But we’re also trying to focus on the positives: He got to stay home with our son, and I delivered our daughter when the hospital was at its safest because of the intense restrictions.

Except…that’s not where my story ends. About a week later, I got sick with a high fever. Terrified, I called my ob-gyn, who instructed me to go to the hospital. After tests ruled out any type of postpartum infection, I was swabbed for COVID-19. After all, I’m sure I could have been exposed when I was at the hospital giving birth (though the nurses reassured me that everyone in labor and delivery was extremely careful about preventing the spread of germs).

The results came back negative. Doctors still aren’t sure what’s going on with me, though.

They’ve told me that this test for the novel coronavirus is only 70 percent accurate, so there’s a chance I could still have it. Because of that, I was advised to self-isolate for about one week to watch for symptoms.

It probably didn’t help that I was in the ER all night with confirmed cases of COVID all around me. I did wear mask and a scarf around my face the entire time I was there to help protect others in case I was sick—and I hope others were doing the same.

As you can imagine, having to self-isolate presents all kinds of challenges with a toddler and newborn. I’m still allowed to breastfeed, so my husband brings our daughter to me every few hours for nursing. I wash my hands before feeding her, wear a mask, and am careful not to breathe on her, kiss her, or touch her face. I am lucky to get a lot of time with her because she wants to nurse constantly.

Still, this is really hard emotionally. All I want to do is be with my family. My husband set up the downstairs computer to turn it into a live streaming Zoom room, so I watch them hang out while I’m in my bedroom. It helps me feel like I’m part of the family, at least a little bit.

Courtesy of Laurel Aquadro

Occasionally, I go downstairs to be with them, but I sit at the other end of the room. I constantly vacillate between thinking I’m being much too cautious and thinking I’m not being cautious enough.

Based on the suggestions of doctors we’ve asked, I’m nearing the end of my isolation. I’ve been completely symptom-free since getting home from the ER on the morning of April 3.

At this point, my husband and I are more concerned with the emotional toll this is taking on our family than anything.

I can’t wait until I can hug my kids and husband again without fear of hurting them.

I still don’t know if my fever was due to COVID-19 or a post-labor infection of some kind, so it’s hard to say if this experience has changed my perspective on the policy that blocked spouses from being in the delivery room. Even if I did catch it in the hospital, I still realize that my risk was lower overall with fewer people around me.

The priority for New York City right now is to flatten the curve as much as possible, so I do understand the decision.That said, I don’t think it ever should have applied to first time mothers. I cannot imagine the extra stress of going through delivery as a first-time parent without your partner’s support.

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