Baby Nora and her mom, Ceyda, were discharged from hospital only a couple hours after she was born on Nov. 22. The new family of four, including dad, Ben, and big sister Hazel, were happy to be home altogether so quickly, and Ceyda’s mom had even travelled from Turkey weeks earlier to help out after the birth. Within a day of getting home, Ceyda began to feel sick. Initially, she thought she was just exhausted and run down, but the following day, Ben became ill, followed by Ceyda’s mom and then Hazel. Though everyone had different symptoms, it was clear something was spreading through the household. They were tested for COVID-19, but as they awaited results, five-day-old Nora developed a high fever, so Ben and Ceyda took her to the Alberta Children’s Hospital, where she, too, was tested for COVID-19. Several hours later, her test came back positive and the rest of the family also received their results: Positive. Ben went home, while Ceyda stayed in hospital with Nora under strict safety protocols to prevent spread.
Nora was struggling to breathe and eventually, stopped breathing altogether. She was sedated and intubated and rushed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Nora is believed to be the youngest person in Canada to be hospitalized for COVID-19. It was terrifying for Ceyda and Ben, knowing their tiny fragile newborn required a machine to help her breathe. After a few days, though, Nora was stable enough to move to Unit 2. However, the virus had caused inflammation in her brain, heart and lungs, so she was irritable and uncomfortable as she lay there – a little baby in a big hospital bed. She stopped nursing and would only drink from a bottle, so Ceyda had to keep on top of pumping milk so it was always available. It was exhausting, but the experience was made a little easier by the kind and selfless nurses, who did all they could to ease the stress. Ceyda recalls a PICU nurse, Amanda, who brought Nora a colourful Disney princess blanket to brighten up the room and help soothe the baby. A Unit 2 nurse, named Jasmine who Ceyda calls her “angel,” rocked Nora throughout the night just so Ceyda could get some sleep. “Because I slept, I could make it through the next day,” she says. Even though Nora had a highly-contagious virus, Jasmine had no qualms about donning all the necessary PPE and cuddling the baby for hours at a time. “She took that risk to take care of Nora and to take care of me,” says Ceyda.
After 13 days in hospital, Nora had fought off the virus and was safe to go home to her family. Ceyda says she’s not sure what would have happened without the Alberta Children’s Hospital and she is incredibly grateful for the care they received.
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