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

Pregnant Revelstoke woman catches COVID-19 days before giving birth

Michelle Hunter said the ordeal was like a horror movie

Michelle Hunter had completely planned for her first child’s birth. Then a pandemic hit and she tested positive for COVID-19 three days before her due date. Her plan imploded.

“It was pretty surreal. I never thought when they tested me it would come back positive,” said Hunter.

In March, she had a prenatal check-up with her doctor in Revelstoke, shortly before her due date. Hunter had a slight runny nose and had completely 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, the 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 for COVID-19.

“I just cried and had a freakout,” she said. “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 right away to Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

So, Hunter and her husband jumped in their truck and drove.

“I had no idea what the future held for me. 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,” said Hunter.

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

“Which would have been disastrous,” said Hunter.

At Vernon Jubilee Hospital. (Submitted)

Empty hospital

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

“My husband and I just cuddled together. I had my arms on my belly,” she said.

They were put into an isolation room and not permitted to leave.

The next day, the hospital told Hunter it would be safer to have a C-section.

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

Soon, nurses came and wheeled her away for surgery. Hunter said she was taken down empty hallways with all the entrances and exits sealed shut. Entire wings of the hospital were closed to stop contamination.

“It was like a horror movie,” she said.

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,” she said. “It was unbelievable.”

The surgery got underway and shortly after, 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.”

The hospital tested Hank for COVID-19 and found he did not have 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 the virus does not spread through amniotic fluid, the placenta or breast milk.

“That was a huge weight lifted,” said Hunter.

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 come into the house and the new parents showed off Hank through their living room window.

“We were like the zoo,” said Hunter.

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 said she’s scared of a second wave of the pandemic.

The 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.

“I couldn’t have asked for better. Everybody was unbelievable. I can’t thank them enough.”

B.C. Centre for Disease Control wrote in an email to Black Press they 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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

The new parents hold baby Hank. (Submitted)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Interior Health will not expand Police and Crisis Team

Southeast Division Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli asked IH to expand the program

Haze over Okanagan and Shuswap skies may have drifted from Siberia

Few active wildifres so far this summer in B.C.

Guerrilla Gigs replacing Streetfest this summer in Revelstoke

Buy one of 30 tickets the Sunday before the Wednesday show

UPDATE: Trans-Canada Highway open to single-lane traffic west of Revelstoke due to flooding

The highway between Revelstoke and Golden is also open again

Mt. Revelstoke summit and back country closed to dogs permanently

Dogs allowed on-leash only in some other areas

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Shuswap resident spots waterspout near Salmon Arm

The rare weather event was spotted early in the morning on July 4.

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

Seymour Arm landslide interrupts drinking water to 500 people

The July 3 slide damaged a water system and a logging road.

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read