It only takes a few seconds for Kendra Armour to begin tearing up as she talks about her pregnancy.
The 32-year-old mother of two — now less than a week out from her planned cesarean section — has tested positive twice for COVID-19. She’s scared and looking for answers.
“I pray every night,” Armour said. “I pray every day, every chance I get.”
Newborns can become infected with COVID-19 during childbirth or by exposure to sick caregivers after delivery, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although it’s rare, the Mayo Clinic also says infants are at a higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19.
Armour will take her third COVID-19 test May 18. Doctors recommend moms don’t hold their baby if they are positive for COVID-19, but moms can choose to override that.
Armour said she will hold her baby when she gives birth May 21 as long she doesn’t have symptoms and is wearing a mask, regardless of the test result, but she’s still nervous about potentially not getting to do that.
“It’s a different type of hurt,” Armour said of that possibility.
Armour started getting symptoms March 23 and had a fever when she went in for a checkup. Testing was even more limited back then than it is now, and pregnant women weren’t initially included in the high-risk category for priority.
Armour took her first COVID-19 test in early April, and it came back positive. She went to the emergency room about a week and tested positive a second time.
As a home caregiver, Armour had to stop working. She has maternity leave, but it’s unpaid. Without another income in the house to support her and her two boys, she’s relying on food stamps and family to come through with financial support and drop off groceries.
The $1,200 government stimulus check has helped, Armour said, but that’s basically gone.
“I’m just trying to make it,” she said.
There have been times when Armour couldn’t even get out of bed, and her 11-year-old son helped take care of her and his 4-year-old brother.
Because COVID-19 is new to humans, answers and recommendations seem to come slowly. And just because scientists or health officials think they know something one day doesn’t mean that’s true the next day.
It’s science in real time, and things change.
There is currently no evidence that pregnant women can transmit COVID-19 to their unborn baby, according to Dr. Alecia Fields, an OB-GYN with HealthNet.
But most of what the medical community knows about pregnancy and COVID-19 comes from small studies in New York City, Fields said.
The health recommendations for pregnant women are basically the same for everyone else at this point: Wear a face covering when you go out, practice social distancing, and stay home whenever possible.
“Stay home,” Armour warned other pregnant women. “What I’m going through, I don’t want no one else to go through. You might not be able to hold your baby.”
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.