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These Emotional Pictures Show What It's Like To Have A Baby During The Coronavirus Pandemic

“This was the most trying experience of my life, but at the same time it showed me the strength I have as a mother."

Posted on April 29, 2020, at 11:05 a.m. ET

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Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Kelly wears an N95 respirator during her cesarean section procedure.

As hospitals across the US are overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19 and with little known about the effects of the coronavirus on fetuses, many people are facing new and unimaginable anxieties about the health of their pregnancy. These challenges became a reality for my wife and me during the birth of our first baby, Diego Julian Sanchez, born on April 19 in New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the US.

From the beginning of the pregnancy, we knew that we couldn't control the circumstances of how this baby would come into the world. We understood that each pregnancy brings its own unique challenges and joys — and we decided early on that whatever happened, we were along for the ride. But as cases of COVID-19 grew exponentially in the area we lived, it became clear to us that whatever expectations we did have were quickly dissolving into the shocking reality of delivering our baby during a pandemic.

Kelly was 8 months pregnant when New York City first enacted its shelter-in-place order to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. In the days that followed, we lived every moment of every day with the fear of contracting the virus and the concern of what that would mean for the pregnancy. “I wasn’t expecting to deal with the mental stress of the unknown," Kelly said. "The economic uncertainty, the idea of going into labor in a hospital that was treating COVID positive patients, and thinking about risks that a simple sonogram appointment in the city could bring took a huge mental toll on me. I was crying every other day while having to deal with this new normal.”

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Gabriel carefully opens a package containing a gift from a relative, using latex gloves.

Four weeks before our baby’s due date, Kelly became ill with symptoms of HELLP syndrome, a rare form of preeclampsia that can be fatal for the mother if the baby is not delivered immediately. After rushing Kelly to Mount Sinai’s maternity ward, medical personnel in full personal protective equipment (PPE) quickly stabilized her and began preparing for an emergency cesarean section. Kelly was tested upon arrival for COVID-19 and cleared of the disease before her surgery, but my test was held up due to a clerical error, and because of this, I was asked to leave the hospital immediately after delivery. Four days passed before I saw my wife again and was able to hold my child for the first time.

As Kelly recovered in the hospital, the emotional and physical toll of an emergency delivery was made worse by the absence of a support person. “To me, this was the hardest part of the entire situation," she said. "It was emotionally draining to not have my husband there. I think the nurses and the staff did as much as they could, but things appeared very strained as they tried to keep babies with their moms as much as possible and keep everybody separated. Because I had such a hard delivery, it made it incredibly difficult to take care of my own baby without my husband to help."

Parents and relatives who planned to be there when the baby arrived could only send their love via FaceTime, and while the medical staff were kind and offered tremendous support, thick layers of PPE and face masks obscured their smiles and created an air of anxiety. In the hallway, the Beatles song “Here Comes the Sun” was continuously playing to signal the discharge of a healed COVID-19 patient. "This was a constant reminder to me that the hospital was also dealing with COVID and that I could possibly be exposed to the virus while I was there."

Today, I am so grateful that Kelly and Diego are safe and healthy at home — for this, we owe a great deal of gratitude to the work of the caring medical staff in Mount Sinai’s maternity ward. “As strained and abnormal as the situation was, the staff gave me a lot of emotional support and kept reminding me that the things were going to be OK," Kelly said. "This was the most trying experience of my life, but at the same time it showed me the strength I have as a mother. It reminded me that you have to take life one day at a time and try not to overwhelm yourself with unknowns and worst-case scenarios."

These pictures offer a glimpse into what it’s like to give birth during this extraordinary moment in history.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Kelly is overwhelmed with emotion while sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic in Queens, New York City.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Kelly takes a reading of her blood pressure using an at-home monitor. Tests like these would otherwise be taken at the OB-GYN, but due to the pandemic, it was recommended to conduct these tests at home.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

As an instructional video plays on the television, Kelly practices prenatal yoga to stay flexible and active while sheltering in place in Queens.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Kelly touches her stomach at nearly 35 weeks pregnant.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Magnets on a refrigerator hold up a card congratulating Kelly and Gabriel on their baby.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Kelly Sanchez looks out her apartment window in Queens while sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Before leaving her apartment for fresh air and a walk, Kelly adjusts her protective face covering while wearing latex gloves.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

A sign at a closed park in Queens offers guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Kelly Sanchez speaks with her OB on the phone before heading into the office for a checkup.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

The contents of Kelly's "mommy bag" include Clorox sanitation wipes, an N95 respirator, and latex surgical gloves.

Kelly Sanchez for BuzzFeed News

Gabriel drives Kelly to her checkup during the coronavirus pandemic in Manhattan, New York.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Medical personnel at Mount Sinai's maternity ward in New York City on the eve before Kelly's delivery.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

A sign at Mount Sinai's maternity ward in New York City offers safety guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

A nurse monitors Kelly's vitals after she is admitted to Mount Sinai's maternity ward, April 18.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

A self-portrait while wearing the required personal protective equipment in Mount Sinai's maternity ward on the morning of April 19.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Nurses transport Kelly into the delivery room in Mount Sinai's maternity ward on the morning of April 19.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Doctors perform a cesarean section in Mount Sinai's maternity ward, April 19.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Medical staff handle Diego only minutes after his birth.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Diego has prints of his feet made before being swaddled by medical staff at Mount Sinai.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Kelly meets Diego for the first time in Mount Sinai's maternity ward, April 19.

Kelly Sanchez for BuzzFeed News

Left: Kelly poses for a selfie with her nurse immediately following her C-section. Right: Diego during his first hours after delivery.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Kelly and Diego after returning from the hospital, April 22.

Gabriel H. Sanchez / BuzzFeed News

Kelly shares a FaceTime call with her mother, Melody, with Diego in her arms.

Kelly Sanchez for BuzzFeed News

Gabriel holds Diego after his first week home from the hospital, April 28.


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