By: KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(TROY, Mich.) — Jennifer Laubach of Michigan gave birth to twin sons, Mitchell and Maksim Laubach, on April 3.
The COVID-19 survivor did not get to meet her sons in-person again until 20 days later, on April 23, after both she and her husband Andre, who also beat COVID-19, were cleared by doctors to enter the NICU at Troy Beaumont Hospital in Troy, Michigan.
“It was very emotional because at that point it had been three weeks since their birth,” Laubach, 36, told Good Morning America. “It felt like I gave birth and they were just gone.”
Laubach, who works as a controller for an insurance company, said she started to quarantine and work from home in mid-March, even before stay-at-home orders went into effect, because she was eight months pregnant.
A few days after starting to work from home, Laubach began to have symptoms like a severe cough and shortness of breath, which she at first attributed to her pregnancy. Her husband Andre, a 36-year-old attorney, soon after developed the same symptoms, but more severe, according to Laubach.
The couple was tested for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and received the test results on April 2, just a few minutes after Laubach’s water broke. She was just 32 weeks pregnant.
“I kept saying, ‘It’s too early, it’s too early,"” Laubach recalled. “Andre called the hospital and while he was on the phone with the hospital I got the call from someone in our doctor’s office that he was positive. My test came back negative but it was a false negative.”
As the couple prepared to drive to the hospital, the task of packing a bag for his wife put Andre, who has asthma and was still having severe COVID-19 symptoms, into a coughing fit so severe he could not talk and was having trouble breathing, according to Laubach.
Laubach was prepared to drive herself and her husband to the hospital until she got a call from her doctor saying that Andre would not be allowed in the hospital because of his positive test result. She called her brother to come stay with Andre and drove herself the 25 minutes to the hospital to give birth.
“As I was leaving I was thinking am I ever going to see him again,” Laubach said of her husband. “He was in really bad shape.”
Once Laubach arrived at the hospital, she had to wait for an isolated room because doctors and nurses considered her a presumptive positive COVID-19 case. She also worried about Andre, who was later treated by paramedics at their home that night.
“My maternal instinct just kicked in and I didn’t want to cause undue stress on myself or the babies so I just tried to remain calm,” said Laubach. “I knew my brother was there checking on him and I knew he was taken care of if something were to happen.”
Laubach went into labor at about 5:30 the next morning and delivered her twin sons, Mitchell and Maksim.
“She was tough, she was persistent and she did it,” said Dr. Deborah Mikula, Laubach’s OBGYN who oversaw the delivery, which required several teams of doctors and nurses. “She stayed really positive through the whole thing and I think she should be so proud of how she handled it.”
Though the delivery went off without complications, the newborn brothers were immediately taken to a quarantine NICU unit because of the risk of COVID-19 and Laubach was not able to hold them.
Laubach, who later tested positive for COVID-19, was discharged from the hospital two days after giving birth but then developed postpartum preeclampsia and had to return to the hospital for another four days.
“I was isolated again from my family and friends and couldn’t see my babies and I was going through some postpartum depression I’m sure,” she said. “My nurse stayed with me throughout the entire first two nights I was in the hospital. I didn’t have anyone else.”
Laubach recovered and was discharged but she and Andre, who had both tested negative for COVID-19, were only able to see their sons through video calls that were often blurry and interrupted by a poor connection. Laubach credits a nurse at Troy Beaumont with letting the parents to meet their sons for the first time in person.
“The nurse got on the phone on her day off and was really our advocate,” said Laubach. “She didn’t have to do that and when she called to give me the news [that the Laubachs could visit the NICU] she was crying. This was someone I had never met before.”
The Laubachs got to meet and hold their sons, who both tested negative for COVID-19, on April 23 in the NICU, while still wearing face masks for protection.
Mitchell, who weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces at birth, went home from the hospital with his parents on Saturday. Maksim, who weighed 3 pounds, 14 ounces, has been on a ventilator and feeding tube during his time in the NICU but is now off of both of those and making progress toward coming home, according to Laubach.
The boys have not been able to meet their grandparents and other relatives and the Laubachs have not been able to have anyone at their house helping them because of stay-at-home orders. They have to take turns making the 25-minute drive to the NICU to visit Maksim because his brother Mitchell is not allowed in the NICU.
“I just want people to take this virus seriously and not take your loved ones for granted, that’s for sure,” said Laubach, who added she still does not know how or where she got COVID-19. “My heart goes out to all the people who don’t have a happy ending.”
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