Mom Who Battled COVID-19 For 85 Days Finally Meets Her Baby Girl

After spending 85 days hospitalized with COVID-19 complications, a new mom is beyond excited to finally be home with her newborn.

“I got out of the car by myself and walked into my own house and I didn’t think I’d be able to do that,” Paola Gambini, 32, shared in a recent interview.

 “And now I’m changing my daughter’s diapers and rocking her, and those are things I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do.”

Gambini, who is a hair stylist, tested positive for COVID-19 in late July, when she was 33 weeks pregnant.

Adn while Gambini isolated at home with mild symptoms initially after testing positive, she was taken to the hospital by ambulance when she began to have difficulty breathing.

“I remember the EMT saying, ‘You’re so lucky you called us. I don’t know that you would have made it,'” said Gambini, who was admitted to the hospital and less than 24 hours later had to undergo an emergency C-section.

“I was freaking out wondering if I was going to die, if the baby was going to survive.”

Gambini gave birth to her daughter, Lilliana, on July 30. But while the baby was okay, Gambini’s health was touch and go.

“I remember touching her and she had so much hair. I’ll never forget that moment. All I cared about was making sure she was okay,” Gambini said. “They took her away and were like, ‘OK, now we’re going to take care of you.'”

Gambini, who had not been vaccinated, was transferred shortly after giving birth to a nearby hospital, Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center.

RELATED: Mom Pens Open Letter About Giving Birth For The First Time While Having COVID-19 And Pneumonia

She was placed on a ventilator for two weeks and then on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, machine, which removes carbon dioxide from the blood and sends back blood with oxygen to the body, allowing the heart and lungs time to rest and heal.

Gambini remained on the ECMO machine for more than 40 days, while her parents, her fiancé, Michael Hazen, and his parents cared for Lilliana.

As she began to recover, the staff wanted top plan a birthday surprise for her. So on Sept. 3, Gambini was reunited with her daughter for the first time since giving birth.

“I remember waking up and they sang happy birthday to me and asked if I was ready to see my baby,” Gambini said. “They had balloons and my whole room was decorated.”

RELATED: New Moms Are Feeling The Pressure To Breastfeed Due To COVID-19

Gambini was then able to see her daughter, recalling, “They let me hold her but I was so weak, I didn’t want to drop her. My arms were so weak.”

“I remember worrying what quality of life I would have and the nurses told me, ‘You think this is forever? You just have to get up and move and you’ll be back to normal,'” she said. “From then on, every day I was like, ‘What’s the plan? I want to get home to my baby.'”

And then, finally, on Oct. 22, Gambini was able to leave the hospital to go home, where she continues to recover.

Since that day, Gambini is now able to hold Lilliana. She describes her as “such a happy baby.”

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