Abu Dhabi: For Jincy Antony, the arrival of her firstborn was a bittersweet moment.
Fighting on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak, the 32-year-old nurse from India and her husband were diagnosed with COVID-19 mere weeks before her baby’s arrival. So when Baby Angeline arrived, she was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for her own safety.
“I was still testing positive for COVID-19, so I wasn’t able to hold my baby. Meanwhile, my husband was hospitalised in isolation. It was a difficult time,” Antony rold Gulf News.
Fortunately, Antony tested negative four days later, and was united with her firstborn.
“I cannot describe the joy of holding her in my arms, and tears filled my eyes as I held her. I still kept my mask on when I brought her home for my own home quarantine, and I didn’t hold her much. But it was lovely to just have my baby with me,” she said.
Antony has been working at Medeor International Hospital in Al Ain, and she was working at the emergency department after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pregnant and dressed in full personal protective equipment, it was a hard job but Antony persevered with proper caution. Her husband, Jose Joy, an accountant from India, also lent his full support.
In early May, her husband, Jose Joy, suddenly started showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
“He had a fever, cough and throatache, so we went to the hospital. He was tested and admitted for the pneumonia and breathing difficulties he was facing, and we found out a few days later that he had coronavirus,” Antony said.
A week later, Antony also tested positive for COVID-19. She said she had no major symptoms apart from some aches in her body, and so she quarantined at home.
“It was a tough time. I tried to keep up my spirits and stay strong. But it wasn’t easy because I was 36 weeks pregnant and my delivery date was nearing. I was very much worried about the health of my child as well,” the nurse remembered.
She remained in quarantine for 22 days. Joy recovered as well, but was quarantining at home.
On June 4, when one of her COVID-19 tests had come out as negative, Jincy finally went for an appointment with her obstetrician, who discovered that she was suffering from hypertension.
“I was asked to come down the next day, and the doctor found that my blood pressure was still high. I had passed the 38th week of pregnancy, so they decided to induce me,” Antony said.
On May 6, Antony was herself admitted, and because she did not have a second negative result, she was kept in isolation. She delivered Angeline, who weighed a healthy 2.47 kilograms, assisted by a team of medical professionals dressed in full PPE.
“I’m sure it would have been an isolating experience for any other person. But I could tell who the people were through their PPE,” Antony said.
Angeline was then cared for in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), and Antony’s sister, Josmy, assisted.
“All of us were overjoyed. I wanted to hold my child and kiss her. But I couldn’t do that. My husband was also not present as he was in quarantine. So my colleagues and Josmy looked after Angeline, and from time to time, they sent me pictures of her,” Antony said.
“It’s one of the reasons why we loved the name for our daughter: it was as if she was being cared for by angels. She is also our angel, because we’ve been trying to have a baby for five years,” the first-time mother added.
“Jincy was very strong. I was amazed to see the courage she displayed. It was heart-wrenching for us to learn that she had tested positive again prior to the delivery. But thankfully, the child was delivered healthy,” said Dr Divyatha Jayaram, obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Medeor International.
Antony finally tested negative three days later, and she said was able to bring her baby home on May 10, and her husband joined them a week or so later. Meanwhile, Josmy was also diagnosed with COVID-19, but she did not require hospitalisation, and recovered soon after.
“Through all of this, we just wanted a healthy and happy baby, and we are so grateful to have Angeline,” she added.