A Fullerton father is warning other expecting parents to take COVID-19 seriously after his wife was hospitalized with a severe case of the virus while she was pregnant, causing them to deliver the baby by C-Section at just 29 weeks.
"If at any time a mother thinks she’s sick or thinks she has COVID just go straight to the hospital because that’s one thing that the doctors said when we first got to the hospital was if we would’ve seen her on her first or second day, we wouldn’t have been in this position. It was prolonging it because we thought doing a quarantine at home and at that time, taking it serious, but not taking it to the point of how serious we know it is now," Ryan Nash told FOX 11.
His wife, Jennifer, contracted the virus back in March when she was 24 weeks pregnant. At the time, Nash said they chose to have her self-quarantine in her bedroom at home where she was treated through the care of her OBGYN.
"She was up there for about 8 or 9 days, and she had a cough, and I kept on asking her how she was feeling. And she's a tough lady, she said, ‘I’m doing better, I'm doing better,' but by about the eighth day, she couldn't handle it anymore and checked herself into St. Jude Hospital here in Fullerton," Nash said.
She was admitted to the hospital on Easter Sunday with COVID-19 pneumonia.
Medical staff placed her on oxygen and a C-pap machine when they noticed her vitals were very low. When her anxiety spiked and levels began to drop, she was placed on a ventilator.
As her condition worsened, Jennifer was transferred to UCLA Medical Center where she was immediately placed on an ECMO machine, which is used to pump and oxygenate a patient's blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest.
"Just knowing that your wife’s at the hospital and there’s nothing you can do… there’s nothing anybody can do. The doctors put her on this machine that gives her the time to actually heal herself and that’s all they give. There’s no magical potion, there’s nothing they can give her to help her get better," said Nash.
Jennifer had to be placed on paralysis while on both the ventilator and ECMO machine, which is only used to assist with the most severe cases of COVID-19. Amid her pregnancy, she spent over a month completely sedated in the ICU on multiple machines before finally testing negative for COVID-19.
When she tested negative, she was 29 weeks pregnant and the decision was made to deliver the baby by C-Section.
Pressley Marie Nash was born on May 3, weighing just 2 pounds 13 ounces.
"Probably the saddest time I’ve been alive and probably the happiest time in my life," Nash explained about his daughter's birth. "Happy that she made it — she had all of her toes and her fingers. And also being sad because she’s a two-pound baby and to see a two-pound baby with oxygen therapy and a ventilator… it’s hard to see."
Jennifer was initially doing well after Pressley was born — until her blood began to clot.
She underwent multiple procedures to assist with stopping the blood clots and fought long and hard to regain her strength.
"It has been a roller coaster of procedures, medications, sedation, and constant scanning. Picking and poking her to fix one problem while another would arise," a GoFundMe created to help with her medical expenses explains. "With four nurses and a team of doctors persistently checking in on her at all hours of the day, this has been gut-wrenching for her family and friends to experience."
Jennifer's loved ones said they don't know when she'll be home, how much damage has been done, or the extent of therapy she will have but said she will have a long road to recovery ahead of her.
"My wife is going to have countless months and maybe years of physical therapy and oxygen therapy and we still don’t even know what that’s going to be, that’s the thing with COVID, she still not recovered enough to tell us what her lung function is going to be," said Nash.
A GoFundMe was created to help the Nash family pay for Jennifer and Pressley's medical bills.