Danielle Sol, 35, a teacher in Long Island, New York recently gave birth to her first baby, Jonah. His birth was unusual. Sol’s husband, Rudy, developed symptoms of COVID-19 just a few days before Sol was scheduled to deliver via cesarean section. On March 18, Sol, who later tested positive for the coronavirus, gave birth by herself. She shared what it’s like delivering a baby alone.
The weekend prior to my C-section, my husband Rudy developed a cough. It was still early in the COVID-19 pandemic so we assumed his seasonal allergies had flared up — or he had a cold. On Saturday night, his fever was 101 degrees so I instructed him to visit the walk-in clinic, while I packed a bag to stay at my parents’ house. Still, I thought he had the flu. I called my OB-GYN to tell them Rudy was sick and they insisted he ask to be tested for the coronavirus and postponed my C-section until March 20.
On the morning of March 17, he called me and said, “OK, babe, I don’t want you to freak out, but I am positive for COVID-19.”
Thoughts rushed through my mind. How did this happen? What does this mean? At the time, there were so few cases of COVID-19 in New York and I couldn’t fathom how it was possible for my husband to be one of them. I didn’t have symptoms, but I informed my doctor’s office who scheduled my C-section for the next day and said Rudy couldn’t join me. I planned on bringing my mom instead but they said no guests. They were treating me as if I were also positive for the coronavirus and they needed to take extra safety precautions.
I had to deliver my baby alone.
I didn’t even have a mask when the staff called to inform me that I needed one when I arrived at Northwell Manhasset for my C-section. I was worried. Would everyone know I was a COVID-19 patient? The nurse assured me that everyone was wearing a mask. The morning of my delivery, my parents dropped me off in the hospital parking lot and I walked in alone.
Immediately, it felt wrong. Everyone was covered in personal protective equipment: gowns, masks, face shields. I could only see their eyes. Prior to this, I had never had any surgery and joked that the biggest thing that ever happened to me was a paper cut. Now I was having a C-section by myself.
But the staff was so supportive and wonderful. They held my hand just as if Rudy or my mom might have. Rudy was on FaceTime and the anesthesiologist grabbed my phone and took him on a tour of the operating room so he could see where I was. That small gesture felt so comforting.
As soon as I had the epidural, they performed the surgery, which went well. Still I was worried because Rudy and my mom weren’t there. Yet, the doctors and nurses seemed to understand that no one should really have a baby alone and helped me to feel as supported as they possibly could.
When the doctor delivered the baby, Rudy heard that it was a boy and we cried together. I could have never imagined delivering a baby this way, but Rudy still participated. I was thrilled he could experience the birth of his first child.
Immediately following Jonah’s birth the worry crept in again. I wanted to do skin-to-skin contact and nurse him, but wasn’t sure if they’d let him stay with me. He had tested negative for the coronavirus. They allowed me to nurse him and have him on my chest. They believed I was giving him antibodies that would protect him. I made sure not to touch his skin with my bare hands and wore my mask constantly. On March 19 I learned I was positive for COVID-19, but still they allowed me to care for Jonah (I had very few symptoms). Luckily, he has tested negative for it several times.
Being in the room alone might have been the hardest part. While the nurses helped me a great deal, it was not the same as having my husband sleeping beside me.
The hospital released me on March 21 and I went home to Rudy, who was still very sick. My parents had also contracted COVID-19 and were in Plainview Hospital undergoing treatment.
This was not my plan. My mother was going to stay with us to help with the baby. Instead, I spent my time alone with Jonah frantically cleaning high-touch areas, such as doorknobs and light switches, wondering if I was going to give him the virus. For weeks, he didn’t see us without masks. Friends dropped off food and supplies, which made it easier for us.
I was proud of myself when I realized what I did alone. I was strong enough to deliver and care for an infant by myself and I want other women to know they can, too. I have been praying for other mothers who are preparing to give birth during the pandemic. It is a scary time, but they can do it. I know. I did.
Everyone in my family has almost completely recovered from COVID-19, though my mom needs more time to fully heal. They are back home and enjoy seeing Jonah through their window, but like any new grandparents, they're desperate to hold him. We can’t wait until the whole experience ends and we can be together again as a family.
CORRECTION (April, 29, 2020 at 9:39 a.m. EST): An earlier version of this story said Sol delivered at Katz Women’s Hospital at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.