SCOTTSDALE, AZ — It might be every new mom’s worst nightmare. “I’ve been in tears for days, the only reason why I’m not crying right now is because I can’t afford to let my blood pressure spike."
Essence Townsend, 34, is expecting her second child in September, but she may welcome her baby girl into the world much earlier than she'd like.
At eight months pregnant, she's now in the hospital, where doctors say they may induce labor due to pregnancy complications after Townsend tested positive for COVID-19.
”I’ve been hearing stories about people who have their babies and it didn’t go well," said Townsend. “Is my baby going to be born with COVID? Is she not? Is it my fault?"
Townsend says she's suffering from high blood pressure, but was admitted to Honor Health Scottsdale Shea Medical Center after bleeding, what she says was caused by a torn placenta.
Townsend had initially tested positive for COVID-19 in June. When she was re-tested on July 4, her results were negative.
Once at the hospital 10 days later, they tested her again, and her results came back positive once again.
Townsend suffering alone, her test results mean none of her family members are allowed to visit. That includes when she goes into labor.
"This is a horrible situation," she said. "It’s already been decided that because I’m COVID positive, I have to stay isolated. My husband won’t be there. I’ll deliver my daughter by myself."
Her biggest fear though, that the virus will take a toll on her unborn daughter.
"It does not appear that it is frequent that a baby would develop the infection from a mom while the baby is in utero," said Dr. Torri Metz, an associate professor at the University of Utah, who's leading a national study looking at potential effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their unborn children.
"There’s just so many unknowns with this virus," she added. "All the physicians and scientists [fighting COVID-19] are very interested in getting this information as soon as possible so we can educate pregnant women, but there is still just a lot of unknowns since we've really only had this in our lives for a few months now.”
For now, Townsend can only act on the advice of doctors for what to do once the baby is born.
Townsend says doctors told her she can choose to hold her baby after delivery, but she could risk exposing her to the virus then.
"That’s the most important time of your life when you have your baby is those first two minutes," said Townsend. "As much as I love my baby, I know I have to let her go with [the nurses] or I’m going to risk giving her this virus. That’s the story of my life. That’s how serious it is. I’m not gonna get to hold my daughter."