Abu Dhabi: For Jincy Antony, the arrival of her first-born 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 merely weeks before the 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 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 told Gulf News.
Fortunately, Jincy tested negative for the virus four days later and was united with her first-born.
“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 employed with Medeor International Hospital in Al Ain. She was posted in the Emergency Department after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pregnant and dressed in full personal protective equipment (PPE), 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, Joy suddenly started showing symptoms for COVID-19 infection.
“He had a fever, cough and throatache, so we went to the hospital. He was tested and admitted for pneumonia and breathing difficulties. A few days later we found out 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. So she quarantined herself 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 in home quarantine.
On June 4, when one of her COVID-19 test results came out negative, Antony 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 got herself admitted and because she did not have a second negative result, she was kept in isolation. She delivered Angeline, who weighed a healthy 2.47kg, 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 even 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 [for coronavirus] again prior to the delivery. But thankfully, the child was delivered healthy,” said Dr Divyatha Jayaram, obstetrics and gynaecology specialist at Medeor International.
Antony finally tested negative three days later and she said was finally able to bring her baby home on May 10. 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,” Antony added.