British Columbia

This B.C. woman was diagnosed with COVID-19 just 3 days before her due date

Even after her baby tested negative for the illness, Michelle Hunter had to get through two weeks of being symptom free before she could enjoy the things new moms look forward to.

'The darkest things you could possibly ever think of go through your mind,' Michelle Hunter says

Michelle Hunter was only able to hold her newborn son, Hank, after she had sanitized her hands and put on a mask. (Michelle Hunter)

During a prenatal visit to her physician in mid-March, expectant mother Michelle Hunter mentioned having a runny nose and not being able to taste anything. She was immediately sent to be tested for COVID-19. 

Five days later — just three days before her due date — Hunter received a call from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control: she had tested positive for the coronavirus that causes the illness.

She and her husband Jeremy immediately went into isolation while they awaited the arrival of their son. 

"The darkest things you could possibly ever think of go through your mind," Hunter told CBC Radio West host Sarah Penton.

According to Interior Health, there has been no evidence of parent-to-infant transmission of COVID-19 yet, but it's too soon to know for sure and research is ongoing.

The Provincial Health Services Authority advises pregnant women in their first or second trimester who have flu or COVID-19 symptoms, and all women in their third trimester, to get tested for the coronavirus.

But that didn't stop the mom-to-be from worrying. 

Michelle Hunter and her husband Jeremy were taken in a private elevator to a private room to avoid spreading COVID-19 in the Vernon, B.C., hospital where Hunter gave birth to their son. (Submitted by Michelle Hunter)

Her blood pressure was high — likely, Hunter thinks, because of the added stress of having COVID-19 — so her doctor scheduled a C-section at the hospital in Vernon, B.C., around 150 kilometres from her home in Revelstoke, to avoid further complications. 

Having an operation in the middle of a pandemic was not how Hunter had envisioned the birth of her first child. 

"It was pretty scary," she said. 

When she and her husband arrived at the hospital, they were escorted to a private room. They had to wear masks, weren't allowed to touch anything on the way, and took a private elevator to their room to avoid possibly spreading the virus. 

Interior Health said procedures vary slightly at sites throughout the region, but all sites are taking precautions related to COVID-19. 

"I've never felt so dirty and contaminated in my entire life," Hunter recalled. 

Hunter's husband wasn't allowed to be in the operating room during the C-section. 

When their son, Hank, was born, Hunter was able to catch a glimpse of him from two metres away. She wasn't allowed to hold him or touch him until after she had recovered from the surgery and had a chance to sanitize her hands and put on a mask. 

Hank was tested for COVID-19, but the results were negative. 

However, Hunter still had to get through two weeks of being symptom free before she could enjoy the things new moms look forward to.

That was six days after she brought Hank home from the hospital — and those were anxious days, Hunter recalls.

"I didn't want to breathe on him. I didn't kiss him for days cause I was so scared that he was going to catch something from me," she said. 

Baby Hank tested negative for COVID-19 after his mother had been diagnosed just days before giving birth to him. (Submitted by Michelle Hunter)

I wasn't until Hank was two months that he got to meet his grandparents in person, instead of through a window or on video chats.

"It was hard," Hunter said. "It was dark and we just kind of stuck together and just tried to see the light of things and stay positive, I guess."

Hunter said she, her husband and Hank are all feeling great now.

With files from Radio West

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