As nurses we fade into the background, the common misconception being we aren't as important as doctors; but we are who the patient turns to when they feel overwhelmed, the ones they seek out to take care of themselves when they are at their most vulnerable and the ones who make patients feel optimistic even in the most trying of times.
Early this year when the pandemic hit, healthcare workers like myself from every state braced ourselves, we knew that the storm was coming, and we were prepared. While the nation went into lockdown, healthcare facilities began stocking up on ventilators, oxygen masks, PPE kits and other necessities which would prove useful in the fight against COVID-19.
It was frightening waiting for the inevitable influx of patients that would test positive once the lockdown was lifted. There were apprehensions that the infection would spread to us, that the system would get overburdened and that things will not end well.
For me was the added fear of the wellbeing of my baby. I was pregnant and scheduled to go on maternity leave when the lockdown came into force. My family is in Kerala, my husband in Kuwait and I was alone in Delhi, at home and on compulsory paid leave. I am not going to lie; it was slightly daunting. It's not the best of positions to be in when you are expecting a child.
The day before I was due, I was tested for COVID 19; unexpectedly I tested positive. I had shown no symptoms at all. There was nothing wrong with me. I was completely asymptomatic.
The first thought that went through my head was - will my baby be fine? The second - will I be fine? The psychological impact as soon as you know you are COVID-19 positive, even if you are asymptomatic, is immense. However, I did not allow the fear to get the better of me and was focused on the tiny human who was about to enter the world, stayed safe and virus free. I was scared for my baby.
Thankfully at the hospital they had arranged everything for me. My chief nursing officer immediately informed the Zonal director of the hospital, and they arranged an ambulance and a bed for me. I was brought to the hospital and admitted immediately. The support from the entire administration overwhelmed me. With new guidelines being issued every day, I could see that they were stressed. At the time, information about the virus was limited, its progression and the character it takes on was larger than life.
I was fortunate to have one of my peers tend to me twenty-four seven. Doctors' Nymphea and Umesh helped me give birth to a beautiful girl, who is two months old today.
Thankfully, my baby tested negative, but to ensure she was not at risk, the nurse who took care of me, whisked her away and tended to her for the next 14 days, till I tested negative. After that, the hospital moved me to a hotel to complete my quarantine period, at their cost.
The team was my family through this happy but fearful time. I was one of theirs and they were rallying for me, helping me stand on my feet when I was at my most vulnerable.
I am now in Kerala, with my family. I wrote this so that every woman who is expecting, who may or may not be Coronavirus positive, might find comfort in my story. My role as a nurse is to support you, as a patient, and while I may not be able to do so physically, I hope my experience gives you the strength you need. After all, I am not the only one who is giving birth in the midst of a highly contagious virus.