In a bittersweet moment, one mother gave birth to her son in the same hospital where her husband died after contracting COVID-19.
Maria Garza was pregnant with their second child in February when her husband Jason was diagnosed with COVID-19. Four months later, Jason died from the virus before and would never meet his son. Garza gave birth to a baby boy on July 19, who shares his father’s name.
“Going back into a hospital setting, and the nurses wearing the same uniforms and the gowns being the same color pattern and everything was jarring,” said Garza.
“But with the support of my family and my mom was there with me and I held his memories close to my heart. (Giving birth) definitely (was) a bittersweet moment.”
Garza revealed to “Good Morning America” how Jason knew they were having a child before he was diagnosed with COVID-19. But sadly, he was not able to be present for most of her pregnancy as he was hospitalized due to his illness. The severity and length of her husband’s illness was a “roller coaster,” she said.
“One day he was improving and the next day he would almost pass,” Garza explained. “The stress of him being in the ICU for three months was almost more than his passing. By the time that his passing came about, it was, [in] a way, a relief because we knew that he wouldn’t be suffering anymore.”
Dr. John Thoppil, Garza’s OB-GYN, said the stress of her husband’s illness, along with Garza’s pregnancy, made for a “trying situation.”
“All we could do is give her guidance, support, love and advice whenever she asked for it,” Thoppil said.
But thankfully due to her resilience and support from family, Thoppil said that she handled the intensity of the situation extremely well.
“I think she’s such a strong woman that if you didn’t know … the situation I don’t know if you wouldn’t know the difference,” Thoppil said. “She handled (it) with such grace that I don’t think anybody outside of people who were the closest would have known what she was dealing with.”
Thoppil believes that Garza was vaccinated made her birth, as well as her pregnancy, safer.
“The risk of hospital admission, intubation, all that is two to three times (as likely) for nonvaccinated women who get COVID,” Thoppil added. “Pregnancy is a known risk factor, and the vaccine is equally effective for pregnant women.”
Garza, who works in the health care industry, got vaccinated during her pregnancy while her husband was in the intensive care unit. She is now sharing her family’s story to encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated.
“Seeing him struggle to breathe in the middle of the night definitely made me realize that … we still need to be out here protecting ourselves and protecting our families,” Garza said. “I don’t want to be the person who spreads it to another person’s loved one who ultimately dies and has to go what me and my family went through.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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