DALLAS — The first American baby known to have been born with COVID-19 is thriving in good health, months after doctors feared she wouldn’t survive the virus.
In May of 2020, 37-year-old Wendy Figueroa was 34 weeks pregnant and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. After she checked herself into the Dallas Parkland hospital, she tested positive.
Figueroa expected she’d get over the virus in the six weeks she had left in her pregnancy. She was terrified when just two days in the hospital she went into prematurely labor and gave birth to her daughter Alexa.
Doctors believed Alexa would be born COVID free, and she didn’t immediately show signs of illness. While in labor, hospital staff had Figueroa wear an N95 respirator to keep the baby safe. Even with the face mask doctors separated the two immediately to reduce transmission.
Figueroa says her worst fear became a reality when 24 hours after birth, her premature baby displayed respiratory distress and tested positive for COVID-19.
Figueroa spent the next 20 days in what she calls agony, not being able to hold Alexa.
“Truthfully, I would cry because I could not see my little girl,” said Figueroa. “I had my baby, and from far away they showed her to me.”
Grateful to Alexa’s nurses at Parkland, Figueroa says they tried hard to make the separation a little bit easier by letting her see Alexa over video chat at feeding time. “It was very difficult and sad,” she said while fighting tears. “As a mother, not to be able to see your baby be born. It’s very difficult to go home and not have your baby with you.”
During that difficult time, Figueroa says she relied on her faith. She has a strong devotion to the Catholic Virgin of Guadalupe and prayed every day that her baby would make a full recovery. Now both fully recovered, she cherishes the moments she and Alexa have together.
“In all honesty, one should have faith in God,” said Figueroa “Because without faith, we have nothing. I trusted in God that everything was going to be alright.”
Alexa has visited her pediatrician several times since she left the hospital and her doctor says she’s doing excellent with no signs of berating complications.
As Figueroa reflects on the moment she finally got to hold her baby, she wishes things would have been different, but believes everything happens for a reason. She now urges expecting mothers to be extra cautious when it comes to social distancing and to wear a mask in public.
“To all the pregnant women, or with small children, I urge you to take care of yourself, and your children,” said Figueroa.
Alexa’s doctor says there’s not enough information about the long-term impact COVID has on babies and that more studies need to be done. Figueroa thanks God Alexa has no signs of permanent respiratory issues.
If you have an interesting story or an issue you’d like to see covered, let us know about it.
Share your ideas with DFW reporter Lupe Zapata: Lupe.Zapata@Charter.com