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Mom Recalls Giving Birth Alone Because Her Husband Had To Be In Quarantine
PHOTO BY courtesy of Nikki Dizon
  • The thought of being pregnant while in the middle of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic can be terrifying. More so if you are scheduled to give birth during the enhanced community quarantine period. But what if you or your partner test positive for the virus? How will you handle it?

    For Nikki Dizon, 37, it is important to listen, trust, and follow the experts. Back in 2009, Nikki was nearing her due date for their firstborn when she found out that her husband, Ron, tested positive for AH1N1, a viral infection that, like COVID-19, also caused a global pandemic that year.

    AH1N1, also called swine flu, presents symptoms that are similar to other flu strains: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Just like COVID-19, you can be infected when you “inhale contaminated droplets or transfer the live virus from a contaminated surface to your eyes, nose, or mouth,” according to MayoClinic.

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    In 2009, Nikki and her husband Ron lived separately while he was put on home quarantine after testing positive for AH1N1.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Nikki Dizon

    Pregnant women are especially at high risk if ever they contract the disease. Upon finding out that he tested positive, Ron was advised by his doctor to go on self-quarantine for 14 days. “As an extra precaution, he also cannot be near our baby for another seven days post-quarantine,” Nikki tells SmartParenting.com.ph.

    She adds, “Awareness on AH1N1 wasn’t as heightened as COVID-19 is now. Social distancing was not even a thing then. There was no clear guidance yet at that time on how to handle these things. [The home quarantine] was more of a judgment call made by the doctor.”

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    “I didn’t have the chance to hold my baby boy.”

    Giving birth alone

    The couple decided to live separately while Ron was on quarantine. Nikki stayed in isolation at her parents’ house and they were the ones who brought her to the hospital when she went into labor.

    “We made that hard and responsible decision to be apart despite this supposed exciting shared moment of our lives,” Nikki writes in a Facebook post where she recalled her birthing story.

    At the hospital, Nikki declared that her husband tested positive for AH1N1 so she was not placed inside the labor room. “I stayed in a separate, private room at the ground floor and I went in labor there. They only brought me to the delivery room at the last minute” Nikki recalls. “Upon giving birth, I didn’t have the chance to hold my baby boy.”

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    She gave birth to her son, G, on June 21, 2009. Coincidentally, it was her wedding anniversary with Ron and it was also Father’s Day.

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    After giving birth, Nikki was immediately tested for AH1N1. Because of his mom’s possible exposure to the virus, G was kept in a separate area in the nursery. He was placed in an Isolette (incubator) and no other babies were inside that room. She was also not allowed to breastfeed him, so her baby was given infant formula at the onset. “Since I wasn’t allowed to hold my baby, I recall being wheeled to a glass panel so I could peer into his isolation room and catch a glimpse of him,” Nikki shares.

    Nikki adds that she felt a deep sense of sadness at how her first birthing experience turned out. “More than anything, I felt bad for my son who looked so alone in his crib, in that room. I felt helpless that I couldn't even comfort him, cuddle him, the way moms would do upon giving birth. Having carried a being for 9 months and being a first-time mom, my reality was so far from how I imagined things would have been,” she says.

    Nikki and Ron now have two kids, G, 10, and M, 7.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Nikki Dizon
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    "It wasn’t easy. But it was the right thing to do.”

    A new mother without her baby

    Once Nikki and her son were discharged, they still had to live separately while the mom waited for the results of her test. “For a full week, I was a new mother with no baby nor husband,” Nikki writes on Facebook. Her son was picked up in a separate car and brought to her cousin’s house for care. They hired a nurse to look after him.

    “For a while, it felt surreal for me. The only reminder that I had even been pregnant was my newly acquired ‘pouch’. But there was no baby with me,” Nikki says.

    Filled with longing for her son, the mom worked hard to give him liquid gold so he would be healthy. “I would express milk, put them in bottles and freeze them. These were labeled by the hour and day. Then, they were brought to my cousin’s house,” Nikki shares. “My baby can only consume [thawed] breast milk that was [frozen] for more than 48 hours because it was believed that the virus would not survive that long.”

    As the days passed, it was Nikki’s mom who called the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for her test results. Nikki admits she could not call the hospital herself, “Maybe because I wouldn’t know how to handle it if I found out I was positive.”

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    Reunited as a family

    G and Nikki, ten years later.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Nikki Dizon

    After seven days, Nikki was given the good news: She was negative for AH1N1! “I got to hold my baby boy, finally,” Nikki writes in her Facebook post. Ron was also able to hold their son after being cleared from the disease.

    “The weeks of sacrifice was worth it,” Nikki tells Smart Parenting. “Now I have a 10-year-old boy whom I can hug anytime. I would like to think I’ve made up for our short time lost.”

    Nikki and Ron may not have been afflicted with COVID-19, but their experience might give hope to pregnant women and their partners who are feeling discouraged during this period. On her Facebook, Nikki writes, “It wasn’t easy. But it was the right thing to do.”

    “I would say listen to the expert,” Nikki shares. “Doctors and medical practitioners have spent years studying these things and their recommendations are anchored on knowledge. My husband and I, hard as it was, did so. The birthing experience was not I imagined it to be, but we knew it was the best for our — and our baby's health.”

    According to the Department of Health, pregnant women are among those who are at most risk of getting infected with COVID-19. Click here for what you should know if you are pregnant at this time and here for your options for prenatal care.

    For more stories on COVID-19, click here.

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