When my fiancé and I found out I was pregnant, we were beyond excited. That was in October of 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic swept our world.
As my due date approached, we were still in quarantine.
I was very nervous.
I knew some patients were COVID positive at Sarasota Memorial. I knew there were many positive cases in Sarasota County. I also knew that being pregnant potentially put me more at risk.
Knowing this information led me to call Sarasota Memorial two to three times to clarify current procedures and guidelines were. Honestly, it gave me peace of mind. They would kindly share information and point me to the website for the most updated information each time. Since this was a new experience for everyone, it was common for guidelines to change.
Guideline #1: No Visitors
I found having no visitors to be a gift. When I had my now 4-year-old daughter, I had visitors coming and going all the time. It felt the moment I fell asleep, either a new visitor or a nurse would pop in and wake me up. I was exhausted. Due to the COVID guidelines, I did not have to tell my family that we would not have visitors this time. I’m grateful that I could rest more and begin to adjust to our new daughter.
Guideline #2: Restricted to Hospital Food
There was a lot of uncertainty about what the food situation would be. We knew there were no cafeteria and hospital food was the only option, so we just brought our own. When we checked in, we had bags filled with tons of snacks and drinks! We even had our own coffee! At the time, we thought we could not access the vending machines; later, we learned this wasn’t the case. It didn’t matter to us because we were fully prepared!
Guideline #3: Checking In.
Checking into the hospital was the piece of the Labor and Delivery process that had me most concerned. I knew when I walked into the hospital, there were positive COVID patients in the same building. As soon as I entered Sarasota Memorial, they immediately took me to the Mother-Baby Unit and checked me in. When they saw I was already 8 cm dilated, they put me in a room. I didn’t have any contact with any other people other than medical staff.
Giving Birth During COVID
At first, the medical team asked me to wear a mask while laboring and delivering. I was understanding and willing to wear one. I was at 9 cm when the whole procedure to get an epidural started, which I’m grateful I could get before it was too late! My contractions were becoming very intense, and I had to take deep breaths to work through them. I honestly don’t remember the exact moment when I ripped my mask off. I do remember I was in so much pain and felt like I couldn’t breathe through the contractions.
No one said anything. Everyone continued with masks and following all COVID-19 protocols while supporting me through some very intense contractions until the epidural kicked in.
NICU Right There for Baby
When my daughter was born, she had already had a bowel movement in utero. NICU was on standby. After 10 minutes of her trying to catch her breath, they helped her breathe and rushed her to the NICU.
I’ve never been so freaked out in my life.
However, our nurse was right there by my side.
She was there encouraging me when I was in so much pain, and now she was sitting with me passing along information from the NICU. We were fortunate that our daughter only had to be in the NICU for a little over an hour. It was the most extended hour of my life!
We are Home, Healthy, and E-Learning
Our daughter is a beautiful and healthy 3-month-old. We are so grateful to have her in our lives. And now, we are navigating having my 4-year-old home, while my two elementary-aged stepchildren are home completing e-learning. We decided that every time the kids would get sick, I would get sick, so it was best to protect myself and the new baby (with no immune system yet!) from any sickness – not just COVID!
Thank you Heather for allowing us to interview you and share your birthing experience at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, a proud partner of Sarasota Manatee Mom!