WARREN, Mich. – A Warren woman who tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) while pregnant is sharing the story of how the virus changed the way doctors had to handle the entire process around her son’s birth.
Their newborn son is home and healthy, as are his parents. But they said their story proves how important it is to stay home and stay safe during the pandemic.
“My symptoms started March 7 with a sore throat,” Jennifer Thompson said.
Thompson was eight months pregnant. Three days before Michigan’s first confirmed coronavirus case, she said she started experiencing symptoms.
“My symptoms -- though not critical like some are experiencing -- they were severe,” Thompson said. “The coughing alone -- I remember jokingly saying, ‘Can the force of this coughing cause my water to break?’ It was pretty bad, and I experienced pregnancy-related -- the force of the coughing would cause me to urinate.
“The sore throat was like needles and pins in my throat. It hurt to drink. My doctors were concerned that I (was) dehydrated because I was pregnant, but it was really hard to do that because of the COVID-19 symptoms. The feeling of my head underwater -- my ears feel like clogged, felt like I had a sinus fog and I had a hard time breathing. Icouldn’t smell. I couldn’t taste.”
Thompson said she got worse, and by March 13 she was in the emergency room and tested for the coronavirus. It took nine days for the results to come back, and they were positive.
In the meantime, Thompson was self-isolated, but her husband and 17-month-old son had been exposed.
“It was a nasty illness,” her husband, Trevor Thompson, said. “You’re nervous. It’s not your everyday flu.”
Jennifer said she was worried about her unborn son.
“There is so much uncertainty,” she said. “People will say there are studies that show no impact on a newborn, but when you’re carrying a newborn, can you trust that?”
She went to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak early Saturday morning with cramping.
“She left about 2 in the morning,” Trevor said. “I didn’t know if she was going into labor or not. I stayed home with the 17-month-old."
Jennifer was in labor a few hours later, and the news came that her husband couldn’t be there.
“It’s because I tested positive for COVID-19,” she said. “Here I was on March 28 -- 21 days later. According to CDC guidelines, at that time you had to be fever-free for three days without use of medication, more than seven days since onset of symptoms and improve in symptoms, and all of that fit me.”
She said no matter what was argued, the decision was made that her husband couldn’t be in the room for the birth.
The couple said they understood and made the best of the situation. Trevor watched through his wife’s phone, which was held by a nurse.
Their son, Hollis, was born Saturday morning.
It wasn’t the birth scenario they had planned for -- no post-birth family photo and Trevor had to wait 24 hours to hold his son.
Jennifer said she was left along during that time, handling feedings, diapering and all those first moments alone with her son, all while protecting him from the coronavirus.
“That’s hard having to quarantine from your own child,” she said. “The whole time I was in the room I was wearing a mask. (When) the nurse or doctor would come in, they were in full gear.”
Now, the whole family is home safe. They want the whole community to stay home so COVID-19 stops spreading.
“What we do have is a healthy baby, and he is doing fine,” Jennifer said. “We are every day hoping (we can) having him around family and friends and we can get outside, but we need everyone to stay inside (for that) to happen.”
“For the sake of your family and friends, just stay home,” Trevor said.
Jennifer said she’s incredibly grateful for the hospital staff and that she had her obstetrician by her side during the delivery.