It’s always a powerful moment when a mom meets her newborn for the first time. But for Jessica Rowlett, it was especially meaningful because COVID-19 nearly robbed her of ever holding her baby!
Jessica Rowlett from Tennessee started displaying some alarming behavior when she was 31-weeks pregnant with her second child.
“I had a very hard time breathing and kept falling asleep and wasn't making any sense when I was talking to my husband,” she said.
So, upon the advice of Jessica’s OBGYN, her husband, James, took her to the hospital in Nashville, where she tested positive for COVID-19.
Doctors immediately put Jessica on oxygen. And coronavirus restrictions only made the situation even more stressful.
“James couldn't go into the hospital with me,” Jessica explained. “He just had to drop me off.”
Jessica’s condition worsened so quickly, that just a few days later, doctors needed to perform an emergency c-section. James got to come and see his wife first the first time just before the surgery.
“Jessica was crying because she didn't want to be intubated and she didn't want to give birth already,” James recalls. “It was really scary.”
To make matters worse, her illness meant the mom wouldn’t be able to meet her newborn baby until after she had recovered. But with all the risks involved, there was no guarantee Jessica Rowlett would ever get to meet her son.
Intense Battle Before Mom Meets Newborn
Along with fears over Jessica’s health, there were concerns for the baby, too.
“Jessica's oxygenation was becoming so poor it was difficult to predict how much oxygen the baby was getting through the placenta,” said Dr. Paul Bryant, one of the doctors who treated Jessica. “We weren't really sure if there was going to be any long-term neurological damage to the baby.”
Jessica was terrified. At one point, she even apologized to her husband. When he asked her why she was apologizing, she responded, “Because I'm about to leave you with these two kids.”
But no matter how bad things seem, God can always make a way. And He was covering this precious family during this trying time, for sure!
James’ and Jessica’s son Rowdy arrived safely via c-section at 33 weeks, weighing 4 pounds, 15 ounces. And praise the Lord, he tested negative for COVID-19.
The newborn couldn’t meet his mom or his dad at first, since James had to quarantine for 14 days after seeing his wife. But after that, James made sure he was at the NICU every day to see Rowdy, despite the 80-minute roundtrip drive from their home.
Meanwhile, Jessica fought to survive. When she woke up from the c-section, she desperately asked the nurse about the newborn son she couldn’t yet meet.
“It's a strange feeling waking up and thinking, ‘Where is my baby?’,” she recalls.
For the next 2 weeks, the medical team hooked Jessica Rowlett up on an ECMO machine, which pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body. And having access to this machine was a true blessing.
“Without the ECMO I wouldn't be here,” Jessica said. “From what I understand, there's only about three hospitals in middle Tennessee that have those machines.”
Mom Fights And Becomes COVID Survivor
Miraculously, Jessica’s condition improved. Each day she got stronger and eventually came off the ECMO machine and moved out of the ICU. Then, on the same day, the hospital discharged Jessica Rowlett along with her baby boy, Rowdy.
It was the mom’s first time meeting her newborn since his urgent delivery. And at first, it felt bizarre.
“Honestly I was kind of numb,” she says. “I just looked at him from across the room and he didn't feel like he was mine. It just didn't feel normal.”
Of course, it didn’t stay that way for long. After spending some time together at home, the mother and son bonded. And while Jessica still carries with her the aftermath of COVID-19, the determined and brave mom remains optimistic about her future.
“I have 30% lung capacity now because of the scar tissue and the respiratory therapist said I'll be on oxygen for one to two years but I'm going to prove her wrong,” she said. “She also said running a marathon is not in my future and I said, ‘That's fine. I'm more of a mall walker.'”
Jessica Rowlett is truly an inspirational overcomer. May God continue to bless her and her family!
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h/t & featured image: Good Morning America