DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Wendy Figueroa waited twenty days to be able to hold her newborn daughter, after both tested positive for COVID-19. Parkland Hospital believes her baby may be the first known case of a child infected in the womb.
"Horrible," Figueroa called the experience.
She was surprised when, after going to the hospital with a fever and headache on April 30, she tested positive for the coronavirus.
She was eight months pregnant.
Two days later, she says she went into labor, in the COVID-19 unit.
She gave birth, six weeks early, to baby Alexa.
"I was nervous she would be born with COVID. And she was born with COVID."
Parkland Hospital says it tests every woman admitted for delivery for the virus.
The hospital said 173 have given birth at the hospital while positive.
Only 5 of their babies later turned up positive themselves, after each being tested 24 and 48 hours after birth.
Of those cases, though, Alexa's was unique.
"There was evidence of COVID in the placenta," said Marjorie Quint-Bouzid, Parkland's Senior Vice President of Nursing, Women and Infant's Specialty Health.
Parkland Hospital says that means Alexa likely didn't catch the virus during her birth, but in the womb, making her the first known case of intrauterine (in the womb) infection.
"It was in the early days of COVID emerging in our community," said Quint-Bouzid, who said the hospital was still trying to establish how to help new mothers struggling with COVID.
There was no way, she said, to move Alexa, who required intensive care, or to allow her COVID-19 positive mother to travel through the hospital to the NICU, where she was being isolated in a private room.
"We felt like we had to do something to keep both of them attached," said Quint-Bouzid.
So, nurses brought Figueroa pictures of her daughters.
The hospital's virtual health department joined in the effort as well, setting up a live feed from the baby's room, using first its telemedicine platform and later iPads.
"Made us all cry when she was able to see the baby for the first time," said Quint-Bouzid.
It's wasn't the same, though, as getting to hold her child, said Figueroa.
"It was really hard on me," she said of the time apart.
When shew as finally able to pick her up, after nearly three weeks, she felt "maravillosa" wonderful.
Alexa, she says, seemed to recognize her and relax in her arms.
For the first time in a long time, Figueroa relaxed, too.
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