When Nakia Hubbard Heard tested positive for COVID in March, it became increasingly difficult to breathe. She could not wear a mask even for 30 seconds. She thought she was having hot flashes, but instead it was a fever. Fatigue was a faithful companion.
Complicating her situation was the fact that she was 23 weeks pregnant when her doctor advised her to go to the emergency room for Beaumont Wayne. She was eventually airlifted to Royal Oak Beaumont due to her high risk fetus. She was not vaccinated.
Hubbard Heard, with the help of a medical team in Beaumont, survived and gave birth to a boy, Saint, on 8 July.
“Relief, gratitude, joy; these words are not enough to describe how I felt that day and today, ”said Hubbard Hurd, who lives in Inkster. “That’s why we named him Holy – he was covered by God all the time I was pregnant with him.”
COVID has taken its toll on her and she is still physically struggling.
“I cannot walk long distances, I get out of breath very easily – sometimes, when I read fairy tales to the Saint, I get out of breath. I cannot carry it and talk at the same time. Carrying him in a carrier, I can carry him so many feet … I cannot bathe him in the tub because I cannot get up off the floor holding him and stand up, I am not strong enough. ” she added.
Her strength is gradually recovering, and she expects this to continue in the months ahead.
She has a message for pregnant women or those thinking of having a baby: Get the vaccine.
“It is more reasonable to prevent this than to deal with the consequences. I was more fortunate, despite all the conditions and all the circumstances that accompanied my infection, and my son is here, ” said 46-year-old Hubbard Hurd. “Some women fail. They have a lot of reliable data that they did not have at the time when I was pregnant, which prove that there is no problem with the vaccine. ”
Currency. There are about 20 pregnant COVID patients at Beaumont Health Hospitals. Half of them are in intensive care.
Over the past two months, the number of deaths of pregnant women from COVID-19 has increased. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that of the 248 pregnancy deaths reported since the pandemic began, 40% have occurred since August, around the same time that the delta variant became the dominant version of the virus infecting Americans.
Overall, only about 30% of pregnant women are vaccinated, which is much lower than the general population, which is about twice as large.
“The disease most often occurs in pregnant women. This is important to keep in mind as this group is still not getting vaccinated and vaccination is still our best way to prevent this disease, ” said Dr. Carolyn Poeder, Fetal Medicine Specialist in Beaumont, Royal Oak. … “Initially, COVID vaccination was considered acceptable for pregnant women, and now it is indeed recommended. It’s a shift. ”
Hubbard Heard was vaccinated before giving birth to a son.
“We have tragically lost several mothers. They were mostly postpartum. Very often, the situation is such that the mother’s condition is rapidly deteriorating, despite all the interventions, sometimes there are signs that at this moment the child can no longer tolerate the environment inside the mother, ” said Pooder.
“We had postpartum losses, there are premature babies who were left without a mother because of this pandemic. We have had quite a few mothers who needed further escalation of care, including extended hospital stays, extended stays in the intensive care unit, and ECMO – a therapy in which blood is removed from the body, oxygenated with a machine, and returned to the body. In some cases, this lasted for months. There are babies who have never met their mothers. There are children who have not met their mothers for several months after birth, and this is all tragic from our point of view, ” said Pooder.
Despite not being 100% recovered, Hubbard Heard is fortunate to have survived. When she was first admitted to Wayne Beaumont, attempts were made to keep her stable, but oxygen continued to drop. She has a fever. She was transferred to the intensive care unit.
At that moment, the doctors talked to her, and they decided that it was best for her to be saved, and the child was placed on a ventilator.
“That day I was airlifted to Beaumont in Royal Oak, where they had a high-risk embryo team. I don’t remember at all the week that I was intubated. First I woke up. I was in someone else’s bed, I had a tube in my throat and an IV in my neck, and I was scared. Because I was confident about COVID, I could not receive visitors. I was scared on my own, I really didn’t know what happened, ” Hubbard Heard recalled.
She required a tracheotomy to remove the growths on her vocal cords, which had been surgically removed. She was fed through a feeding tube and needed to learn to eat and walk again. She was on mechanical ventilation for five days, and was hospitalized for five weeks. She had a trachea inserted for four months. She finally had it removed when she went to give birth to the Saint by Caesarean section.
While she was hospitalized, the medical team looked after her and the baby, making sure he had enough oxygen and nutrients from the placenta.
“The first step was to keep my mother alive. There is a very simple principle in maternal fetal medicine: if the mother does not survive, the baby usually does not do well. We have to keep mom alive, ” said Pooder.
When Hubbard Hurd was diagnosed at 23 weeks, Pooder said the baby was on the verge of surviving outside the womb, but every day he could stay inside was better for his health and development.
“So when deciding when to give birth, the question is whether it will harm mom or benefit mom. Mostly due to respiratory illness, since COVID childbirth alone does not improve the mother’s condition, it also increases the risk of major surgery. … In all his care, he balances the risk of prematurity with this desire to take the baby out of the equation, which literally rises in discussions. If the mother has given birth, then the ICU no longer needs to worry about the baby, ” said Pooder.
So, these days, Hubbard Heard smiles when he talks about Saint squirming in her lap during a recent Zoom conversation with the media.
She has been working as a therapist since 2002, but is not yet strong enough to return to work.
In the run-up to the holidays, she focuses on her blessings, including Beaumont’s staff.
“I can never thank them in a million years. These are the people who came and brought my husband a postcard and a present for his birthday, because I was in the hospital. The nurse who took me outside after being in the hospital for almost a month and let me feel the sun again, ” said Hubbard Hurd, who had a long list of people to thank.
According to the CDC:
– People who are pregnant or recently pregnant are more likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19 than those who are not pregnant.
– Vaccination against COVID-19 can help protect against serious illness caused by COVID-19.