Michelle Hunter tested positive for COVID-19 three days before her due date. (Submitted)

Michelle Hunter tested positive for COVID-19 three days before her due date. (Submitted)

Pregnant B.C. woman catches COVID-19 days before giving birth

Michelle Hunter said the ordeal was like a horror movie

Michelle Hunter had fully planned for her first child’s birth, then the pandemic hit and she tested positive for COVID-19 three days before her due date.

In March, she had a prenatal check-up with her doctor in Revelstoke, shortly before her due date. She had a slight runny nose and had lost her sense of taste.

COVID-19 Signage outside the Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

According to a study by the University of California, loss of taste and smell can be a symptom of COVID-19.

The doctor sent Hunter for testing on March 20, the day after the province had declared a state of emergency.

Testing positive

Shortly after, Hunter got a call from the BC Centre for Disease Control. She had tested positive.

“I just cried and had a freakout. I have never felt so contaminated and dirty in my entire life.”

Tests indicated Hunter’s blood pressure was abnormal and she was at risk for Preeclampsia, a life-threatening condition that can damage multiple organs, including the liver and kidneys.

Doctors told her to drive to Vernon Jubilee Hospital immediately. Hunter and her husband jumped in their truck and drove.

“I did not know if my baby was going to be sick when he came out. I did not know if he was going to be alive. I didn’t even know if I was going to make it.”

Yet, Hunter said she tried to stay calm. She didn’t want to go into labour during the drive.

At Vernon Jubilee Hospital. (Submitted)

Empty hospital

In Vernon, a nurse met them at the hospital and took them to a private elevator. They were told not to touch anything, not even the walls.

“My husband and I just cuddled together.”

They were put into an isolation room and not permitted to leave. The next day, she was told it would be safer to have a C-section.

“By this time, I was bawling my eyes out. I was very, very scared.”

She was wheeled down empty hallways with all the entrances and exits sealed. Entire wings of the hospital were closed to stop contamination.

Hunter’s husband was not permitted in the operating room – she would have to have the baby alone.

Birthing Hank

When the anesthesiologist entered for surgery, Hunter said he was wearing a full hazmat suit with a gas mask.

“He looked like Darth Vader. It was unbelievable.”

The surgery got underway, and then Hunter heard her baby cry.

Grandma meets baby Hank through the window for the first time. (Submitted)

To protect the newborn, doctors took him six feet away and propped him up so Hunter could see her first child, named Hank. She was not permitted to hold him.

“I was helpless. Completely helpless.”

Hank tested negative for the virus.

While current studies are limited, the BC Centre for Disease Control said there is no evidence of parent-to-infant transmission of COVID-19. Tests indicate it does not spread through amniotic fluid, the placenta or breast milk.

“That was a huge weight lifted.”

READ MORE: Revelstoke maternity team keeps mom grounded during COVID-19

After four days in the hospital, Hunter and her family were permitted to return home.

Back in Revelstoke, the family went into isolation. No one could enter the house, so the new parents showed off Hank through their living room window.

“We were like the zoo.”

Two months later, Hunter said her family is healthy. Her COVID-19 symptoms never progressed beyond a runny nose and loss of taste. Hunter has no idea how she caught COVID-19.

Future unknown

As the province starts to reopen, Hunter is fearful of a second wave of the pandemic.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said British Columbians should prepare for the virus’s probable resurgence.

The new parents hold baby Hank. (Submitted)

Hunter hopes some form of normality will return.

“We can’t live in fear for the rest of our lives of a virus that’s out there.”

READ MORE: Photos: Businesses start to reopen in Revelstoke

Although the experience was frightening, Hunter said the medical care she received was outstanding.

“Everybody was unbelievable. I can’t thank them enough.”

B.C. Centre for Disease Control do not yet have data on how many mothers with COVID-19 in the province have given birth.


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BirthsCoronavirusHealthcare

 

Grandma meets baby Hank through the window for the first time. (Submitted)

Grandma meets baby Hank through the window for the first time. (Submitted)

At Vernon Jubilee Hospital. (Submitted)

At Vernon Jubilee Hospital. (Submitted)

The new parents hold baby Hank. (Submitted)

The new parents hold baby Hank. (Submitted)

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich health and safety manager named one of Canada’s top 40 women in safety

Canadian Occupational Safety magazine celebrates women leading safety sector in 2021

Sofia Watts, Charlotte Magill and Harriet Knight were among the KELSET Elementary School students releasing salmon fry into Reay Creek May 7. (Ian Bruce/Submitted)
Saanich Peninsula elementary students help restock, clean up local creeks

Salmon fry releases took place at Reay Creek and Tetayut Creek

The City of Victoria hopes to improve its cultural spaces this year and it wants non-profits to help. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Grants up to $125,000 open to Victoria non-profit arts and cultural organizations

Victoria Cultural Infrastructure Grant applications close at the end of May

North Saanich has started the design of a crosswalk at the intersection of Mills and Littlewood roads near Garden Child Care Centre, whose owner Tracey McCullough has been calling for such a sidewalk. As such, she has been echoing a previous appeal by the building’s owner, Heather and Cory Hastings, standing respectively with seven-year-old Jack Hastings and five-year-old Felix Hastings. (Black Press Media File)
North Saanich moves ahead with crosswalk near child care centre

Crosswalk proposed for Littlewood and Mills roads parts of approved active transportation plan

Colwood city council did a last minute adjustment to this year’s budget, dropping the planned property increase to five per cent. Last year they didn’t increase taxes at all. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood agrees to 5% tax increase for 2021, deferring some expenses to next year

Last-minute changes will save the typical Colwood homeowner $56

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read