TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The risk of contracting COVID-19 is a scary reality for any expecting mother, one Oro Valley couple had to make a life-or-death decision when COVID-19 hit their home.
Katharine and Jason McMurray found out they were expecting in January of 2020, a month and a half before the pandemic changed everything. Two months before the baby was expected Katharine had to have an emergency c-section.
The challenges started when the pandemic hit — Katharine had to attend doctor's appointments, alone.
“It was hard. It was really hard on my wife if she had. It was her first baby. And so she had this perfect image in mind of how all the appointments were going to go and how the birth was going to go and everything," said Jason.
Throughout the pregnancy, Jason was not allowed to attend doctor's appointments. Then, Katharine fell ill around the time the Bighorn Fire was blazing in the Catalinas.
"I have asthma and we thought it was just bronchitis, from the smoke inhalation. And I went into the ER. And they said, COVID-19, so I was diagnosed, on June 29,” said Katharine.
Pregnant, and now one of the thousands struck by COVID-19 — her pregnancy continued to present challenges. Ten days after the diagnosis, she was sent to the hospital.
“It was to the point where my lungs weren't maintaining the [blood oxygen] levels, and it was either going to suffocate me or her or both,” said Katharine.
That’s when she had to undergo an emergency c-section at just 31 weeks pregnant.
“[Doctors] were all covered and from head to toe, they had to go, they had multiple masks, I had to wear a mask. It was probably I think five people in there, plus the NICU nurses that were waiting outside,” she explained.
All the while, her husband Jason was anxiously waiting in his car.
“I was waiting in my car for hours and hours and hours outside of the hospital. And then they transported her from Northwest [Medical Center] over to Banner because the NICU over there is better suited to handle everything,” he explained.
After baby Maeve made her arrival weighing in at just under four pounds, Katharine's blood oxygen levels improved, but she couldn’t hold her baby.
“I could feel her come out. I heard her cry. And that was it. The first picture we got of her was from my [OBGYN]. He was the one who took the picture and sent it to us,” said Katharine.
A week later, both Katharine and Jason tested negative for COVID and were finally able to meet Maeve for the first time. She spent seven weeks in the NICU.
Now, Katharine wants to remind the community that COVID-19 is serious.
“People need to not just think about themselves, they need to think about the babies, the mothers, their families, it's not just one person," she said.