Conquering COVID-19 While Pregnant
In April 2020, Sandrine Atemekeng, 34, of Frederick had just hit the 36-week mark in her fourth pregnancy.
Sandrine, a Montgomery County Hospice nurse, had been quarantining at home due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. “I was just at home with my family, waiting for the baby to come,” she said. But that same week, she started experiencing a stuffy nose, a loss of taste and smell, and random bouts of chills. After another week, her symptoms got worse. She woke up in the middle of the night with a bad cough, abdominal pain and a fever of 102 degrees. That’s when she realized she hadn’t felt her baby move for almost two hours.
“Being a nurse and a mom, I knew something wasn’t right,” Sandrine said. “I knew my baby. And something was off.” Sandrine received a test near her home in Frederick County. The next morning, she learned she was positive. “My first thought was, ‘Are you serious?’” Sandrine said. “I had been home, staying away from people. The only place I had been was to the grocery store.”
MANAGING COVID-19 WHILE PREGNANT
Sandrine called both her primary care doctor and her obstetrician to understand how she should manage the virus with her pregnancy. “Because I was pregnant, they weren’t sure if some of the typical treatments were safe for me,” Sandrine said. “After talking with my obstetrician, he recommended that the safest bet for me would be to go to the hospital.” Even though Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center was a drive from her home in Frederick County, she knew it was where she wanted to be. “I had all of my children at Shady Grove, and the care was amazing,” Sandrine said. “I knew that if there was a chance I was going to go into labor or be induced, I needed to be there.” By the time Sandrine arrived at Shady Grove, the Birth Center nurses were ready and waiting for her. “They actually called me while I was on my way to ask where I was,” Sandrine said. “They were so prepared. As soon as I got to the hospital, they had me in an isolation room with oxygen, IV fluids and anything else I needed.”
COMPASSIONATE CARE ABOVE AND BEYOND
For the next week, Sandrine was in isolation at the hospital. She says being alone was one of the toughest parts about her stay. “When I first got to the hospital, I was so weak. I didn’t want to watch television or do anything in my room,” she said. “But the nurses really stepped in. They fed me when I was too tired, told me jokes, laughed with me. They really made my stay so much more comfortable.” As the days passed, Sandrine started to improve. She remained concerned about her baby and whether she’d go into early labor. “I had an ultrasound, and they were monitoring her the whole time, but she seemed to be doing fine,” Sandrine said. “The nurses kept telling me, ‘she’s a strong one,’ and they were right.” By the end of the sixth day, Sandrine was fever-free, off of oxygen and cleared to go home. “I was still instructed to quarantine, to be on the safe side,” Sandrine said, “but I couldn’t wait to just get home. I still couldn’t be around my other children, but at least I could hear them playing downstairs.”
LOOKING BEYOND COVID-19
After recovering from COVID-19, Sandrine looked forward to returning to Shady Grove Medical Center. This time, instead of fighting a brutal virus, she would be meeting her daughter. “I just wanted her to be healthy,” Sandrine said, “and I knew that coming back here to Shady Grove, they would do everything necessary to keep us both safe.” On May 8, Sandrine gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Kimora. She’s now adjusting to life as a mom of four.
FACING A PANDEMIC HEAD-ON
After having COVID 19, Sandrine said she was so glad she listened to her body and got medical care when she did. “I’m glad I didn’t let the fear stop me from going to the hospital,” Sandrine said. “If I had, where would I be now?” Her advice to others? Don’t wait. “If you think something is off, it probably is. We have to remember to stay calm and think rationally. We’ll get through this.”