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'It Felt Like I Was Living A Nightmare': Turlock Family Healthy Once Again After COVID-19 Battle

TURLOCK (CBS13) — A Turlock family is happy to be healthy and at home after a rocky couple of months battling COVID-19. The road to recovery, family says, wasn't easy.

"It felt like I was living a nightmare," Jessenia Lizarraga said. She described her COVID-19 symptoms as unlike anything else she's ever experienced and felt like a severe case of pneumonia.

"I wasn't able to breathe on my own anymore," Lizarraga said. "I was tapped out on oxygen through the nose and the mouth."

She contracted the virus back in April, likely exposed to it at work. Lizarraga suffers from asthma, which made treating her coronavirus symptoms difficult. But what made it even more difficult was the fact that she was seven months pregnant.

Lizarraga was originally being treated at Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock but was transferred to UC San Francisco. When her symptoms weren't alleviating, she and her family made the decision to give birth to her baby boy 11 weeks early.

"There was no other option, this was a do or die basically," she said.

Her baby tested negative for COVID-19. Doctors then put Lizarraga in a medically-induced coma for two weeks. While unconscious, Lizarraga said her family often told her messages of love and support.

"The girls need you, everybody still needs you," she said.

READ: Stockton Couple Welcomes 12 Pound Baby Girl At San Joaquin General Hospital

Lizarraga woke up after 15 or 16 days, unaware of all that had taken place or how sick she had been.

"At that time, I didn't know the baby was born. I didn't know anything," she said.

Meanwhile, her 3-pound baby boy Sergio was being cared for at Doctors Medical Center in Stanislaus County, away from mom.

"Just given prematurity alone, it's a very vulnerable state. Top that with a pandemic," Dr. Angie Guignard, the Director of Women's Services at Doctors Medical Center said. "I just felt my heart tugging. I just felt it was so important to get her connected somehow to us and to her baby."

Lizarraga and her family would often video chat to see Sergio. At home, two of her daughters had previously tested positive for the virus. Her 8-year-old, Lizarraga says, tested positive every two weeks. She had no symptoms at all.

But under strict distancing and sanitation protocols, Lizarraga was able to take Sergio home once she tested negative twice. Doctors say that happened around Mother's Day Weekend.

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Now weeks later, they're clear to be all reunited again. Monday was the first time everyone in the family tested COVID-19 negative. The family is thankful to be together once again. Sergio is growing and healthy, now at nine pounds.

But the lasting impact is heavy, Lizarraga says, and she hopes others realize how life-threatening it can be.

"Wait until it hits home," Lizarraga said. "Wait until someone you really love gets stuck with COVID."

Lizarraga emphasized COVID-19 is real, and it's not going anywhere.

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