Perpetual Uke first began experiencing flu-like symptoms in March. But when she visited her doctor, she discovered it was not the flu at all, but the novel coronavirus.
Uke was among the first wave of UK citizens to become a victim of the worldwide pandemic. And to make the situation more complicated? Uke was 24 weeks pregnant with twins at the time, and when doctors put her in a medically induced coma — no one was sure her babies would survive.
Fast forward to 8 months later, the mother is still in awe of everything both she and her babies lived through.
At the time, she worked as a rheumatology consultant at Birmingham City Hospital in Birmingham, England — which increased her risk of contracting the coronavirus significantly. And as research now shows, being pregnant was also an important risk factor.
According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women are more likely to get severely ill and die from COVID-19.
But before doctors went through with the procedure, they placed her in a medically induced coma — which meant Uke would remain asleep for much of her treatment.
Despite the odds, all three pulled through. That being said, the way it turned out was still a shock to Uke.
At just 26 weeks pregnant, the doctors induced Uke, only two weeks after she had been diagnosed with the virus. Uke was still in a coma when she gave birth, via emergency C-section, to her twins: a son later named Pascal and a daughter she would call Palmer.
Sadly, Uke has zero memory of April 10, the day her twins were brought into the world 11 weeks early. Both twins were quickly placed in the NICU and placed on incubators to receive special care, as they weighed less than 2 pounds.
Matthew, Uke’s husband, could not be present for the birth, and later revealed how the experience was traumatizing.
“It was really terrifying,” he recently told BBC News of his wife’s hospitalization. “Every passing day, I was hoping my wife was not among those who are dead. … We are a team, [and] the idea she might not be there was really difficult to accept.”
“I had mixed feelings when the twins were brought out,” he told the news outlet. “But my wife was still in a coma, sick, I couldn’t talk to her. I was happy the twins were delivered but the thing is, is my wife coming home?”
For an additional 16 days, Matthew waited to know what his wife’s condition would be. And two weeks later, Uke finally awoke. Almost immediately, she noticed her bump was gone, and she feared that it meant she’d lost both her twins. But instead, was shocked and beyond excited to discover that both babies had survived and were doing well.
“They were so tiny. They didn’t look like my older kids,” Uke shared with Sky News.
Uke and her husband Matthew are also parents to Ronald and Claire. The mother says at first, she was so overwhelmed by how fragile her twins looked, that she was paralyzed in fear.
“I couldn’t touch them,” she recalled, “I felt so emotional.” But when she finally was able to hold them herself, her heart was immediately full.
Eventually, Uke recovered and was permitted to go home once she tested negative for it. The twins spent a total of 116 days in the NICU but were also, eventually released. And when they left the hospital, they were given a resounding round of applause by hospital staff.
The twins are doing well and the family is beyond happy now that their COVID-19 scares are something in the past.
“I had never wanted them to go through this difficult path at the start of their lives,” Uke revealed to BBC News. “They couldn’t see their mum for two weeks, which obviously made me very sad, but, importantly, things ha[ve] progressed well.”
When speaking with Sky News, she said that she believes her twins will “grow up to be good playmates” as they are already “chatting” and laughing together like best friends.
“Sometimes I look at them in tears,” she shared. “I never knew they would make it. It is amazing what medical professional science can offer.”
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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