CHICAGO (CBS) — A mother had to wait for an entire week before she could hold her newborn daughter because of coronavirus.
Now, she has a message for other families expecting during a pandemic.
CBS 2’s Marissa Parra on Sunday night took us on a parenthood journey with a lot of wrong turns – before everything turned out just right.
It’s safe to say nothing this year has gone as planned for anyone. That goes for Andrew and Ashley Kappa too.
“At the beginning of the year, we thought we’d be getting married and having a big grandiose wedding,” Andrew Kappa said.
“That was canceled twice,” Ashley Kappa said.
While not grandiose, the wedding still happened. They did a quick pivot and got married at a courthouse instead.
They also thought they would try for kids at the end of the year – and guess what.
“A few weeks later, we found out we were pregnant,” Ashley Kappa said.
But the surprises were only beginning. They planned to have a doula deliver the baby in December, but one month early, Ashley had preeclampsia – marked by dangerously high blood pressure.
So they pointed her to the hospital, which delivered more news – that it was time to deliver the baby. But there was an unpleasant surprise to go with that news.
“They came and told me good news and bad news – your COVID test is positive, but we’re inducing you and you’re going to have your baby,” Ashley Kappa said.
The mom-to-be was shocked.
Parra went to an expert to get some perspective. Dr. Melissa Dennis of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center said women in their childbearing years are in the typical age range for people who are more likely to be asymptomatic.
But can COVID-19 be passed from mom to newborn? The research so far is promising.
“How moms transmit this to babies is still evolving knowledge, but what we do know is that when mom delivers, the risk of transmission to a newborn is incredibly low,” Dr. Dennis said.
To keep other patients safe, the COVID-positive parents could not leave their rooms. So they used the time to make videos for their unborn daughter.
“We don’t know if daddy gets to be in the room with me or not, but you’re coming out very soon – very soon,” Ashley Kappa said.
Advocate Illinois Masonic did find a way for dad to be there when the big moment came and baby Imogene was born – but it was a fleeting one.
“It was maybe five, 10 seconds?” Ashley said.
“They had to grab her up and take her up to NICU because she was a premature baby,” Andrew said.
And they weren’t allowed in the NICU because it is full of other babies. So back to hospital quarantine they went.
To ease the pain, the hospital gives COVID-positive parents an iPad.
“We could call the NICU at any time and FaceTime with her,” Ashley said.
It is a weird concept, Parra pointed out. The Kappas had a newborn baby who was a month early, and already, they are scheduling video conferencing with her.
“And we’re working around her schedule because babies have schedules,” Ashley said. “It was the longest 6 days of my life.”
But on that sixth day, momma recorded her last video to Imogene.
“I’m about to hold you for the first time!” Ashley said in the video as tears welled up, “and I can’t wait.”
For all the tears in the last week, the Kappa family wouldn’t change a thing.
“Every fear that we had came true, and everything ended up being OK,” Ashley said.
Dr. Dennis said COVID-19 rules in the delivery room vary by hospital, and are constantly updated as we learn more about the virus.