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  • 'Nag-Iba Kulay Ng Paa Ko': Breastfeeding Nurse Shares How She Survived COVID-19

    The ordeal was physically and emotionally draining.
    by Kitty Elicay .
'Nag-Iba Kulay Ng Paa Ko': Breastfeeding Nurse Shares How She Survived COVID-19
PHOTO BY Courtesy of Ronilla Castro
  • Despite a year of community quarantines, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to persist in our country, with more Filipinos falling ill because of the virus. One of them is mom Ronilla Castro, a 28-year-old nurse from Santiago City, Isabela.

    In her post in our parenting community, Smart Parenting Village, the mom shared that she and her husband, Christopher Castro, both tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2021. This, after being able to evade the coronavirus while she was pregnant amid the pandemic.

    Ronilla with her husband, Christopher, and son, Toviel.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Ronilla Castro

    The mom thinks she contracted the virus after coming back to work and being exposed to different patients as a nurse.

    “My husband and I got sick and all of the [symptoms] of this deadly virus appeared, which includes trangkaso (weakening body, severe headache, and body pain), cough and colds, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, mild loss of smell, loss of taste and conjunctivitis,” she shares.

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    When they got the results, the couple immediately transferred to a quarantine facility because they needed to isolate and protect their household. However, this meant leaving their 5-month-old son, Kris Toviel, behind.

    Their son was not tested for COVID-19, but Ronilla thinks he was asymptomatic, “kaya kailangan lumayo kami sa kanya,” she tells SmartParenting.com.ph in an interview via Messenger.

    ‘Breast milk saves lives’

    While pumping in the quarantine facility, Ronilla's breast milk had a yellowish tinge, which she believes now contains antibodies against COVID-19. Breast milk changes to meet a baby’s needs, especially when the mom or the baby is sick.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Ronilla Castro

    As a breastfeeding mom, Ronilla decided to continue pumping breast milk for her son while in the quarantine facility. “Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang pag-pump ko, 5 times a day, tapos pinapakuha ko ‘yung milk every after two days,” she shares.

    “Iba talaga ang nagagawa ng nanay para sa anak, may sakit ka na pero siya pa rin ang uunahin mo,” she adds.

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    The mom believes that her “liquid gold” protected her baby while she and Christopher were in quarantine. Luckily she had enough stash in their freezer and it was enough for her son until they got back from quarantine.

    “Nagtiwala ako sa gatas ko… my milk is indeed gold! I believe that I produced enough antibodies with all the sickness and symptoms I experienced, enough to protect my child,” Ronilla says.

    “My baby is healthier, mightier, and happier, because of my liquid gold,” she adds.

    Surviving COVID-19

    Ronilla admits that even as a nurse, she had moments when she doubted the virus. “May mga times na nagtatanong ako, ‘totoo ba ‘to? COVID?’ Parang naging new normal na lang, sanayan lang,” she shares.

    When she contracted the virus, she realized just how hard it is to be infected, especially because she passed it on to her husband. “Parang panaginip dahil sobrang ingat ko,” she writes.

    As she battled the virus, what Ronilla feared the most was leaving her son behind. Especially when she started experiencing unusual symptoms.

    “There was a time na nag-iba na ang kulay ng talampakan at paa ko, which alarmed me [enough] para ibilin ‘yung anak ko sa family ko. Yes, dumating ako sa point na ibinilin ko ang anak ko,” she writes.

    But as a mom, she fought to live. She tried everything, from suob (“super effective and clears the airway”) to staying hydrated, gargling with salt, boosting their immune system with vitamins, and treating the symptoms as they come.

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    “Ang hirap magka-COVID, ‘yung isang paa mo nakabitin na. Ang hirap isipin — ‘makikita ko pa kaya ‘yung anak ko? Hindi ko pa siya nahahalikan,’” she recalls.

    The ordeal was physically and emotionally draining, but Ronilla is happy that she was able to survive it. She was recently cleared from the virus and she is now looking forward to having her first COVID-19 vaccine shot after her body recovers and she regains her strength.

    “Magpabakuna na po tayo pero ‘wag din naman maging kampante dahil gagawa pa ang katawan ng antibody. Hintayin natin matapos ang 2 doses natin and wait for at least two weeks to one month para makagawa ang katawan ng antibodies laban [sa virus]. Ang palay na itinanim hindi mo bukas aanihin, wait wait rin,” she says.

    Ronilla also appeals for Filipinos to be honest about their symptoms, not only for their sake, but for the sake of frontliners and healthcare workers. 

    “It’s never easy to be a health worker [because] we put our lives and our family [at risk]. Please be honest with us and surrender para ma-contact trace agad at hindi na kumalat [ang virus],” she says.

    Click here to read how the COVID-19 vaccine can protect our kids and community from the virus.

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