(NEW YORK) — A first-time father was forced to witness the birth of his child over a FaceTime call last week, while awaiting his own COVID-19 test results.
Jack Hedges of Bedford, New York, watched via video chat as his daughter, Adrienne, came into the world on April 5, during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I could see a little bit of my wife and doctors moving around and they kept telling her, ‘Push! Push!'” Hedges told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “I was [also] encouraging her.”
“It was a joyous, but surreal experience,” he said.
On the evening of March 27, Hedges began showing symptoms of COVID-19, including high fever, but no respiratory distress, he said.
“For about three days after that I was pretty much bedridden,” Hedges added. “It was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life. My fever peaked at 103.5 [degrees]. Obviously with my wife being pregnant, I wanted to get tested as quickly as possible.”
After days of trying to get through to Westchester Medical Center, Hedges was able to make an appointment to be tested for the virus on April 4.
That same day, he said, after returning to his quarantined area at home, his wife, Valeri Hedges, yelled out to tell him her water broke — a month early.
Her original due date was May 5.
“Here we are a month early, I’m still sick and I can’t go to the hospital with her,” Hedges recalled. “There were moments of immediate panic. She gathered herself, packed a bag and drove to the hospital, which is a mile away down the road.”
After driving herself to the hospital, Valeri tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival, Hedges said.
She then called her husband to let him know she was being induced the following day, and doctors would FaceTime him from the delivery room when she was ready to start pushing.
The next afternoon, Hedges watched as Adrienne was born. She arrived just two hours before Hedges received word from health officials that he had tested negative for COVID-19. Hedges shared this documentation with GMA.
After providing the physical lab results, the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit allowed Hedges to see his daughter. At this time, he had little to no symptoms.
“I don’t know the science behind it. If I didn’t have coronavirus, I certainly had the flu,” Hedges said. “Is it possible I had [coronavirus] and by the time I got tested, I no longer had it and it came out negative? I don’t really know. All I know is, I’m terrified there’s worse out there than what I had because what I had was brutal.”
He went on, “I felt disappointed that I couldn’t be there to support my wife. I didn’t feel sad for my own sake that I couldn’t be in the room. I felt bad she had to go through this experience by herself, and of course with the help of the doctors and nurses.”
Valeri Hedges called the experience as a whole “nerve-wracking,” but she and her husband had to do what was best for the safety of their child, and the public health at large given the uncertainty of Hedges’ status, she told GMA.
“I am so grateful to the wonderful nurses and staff at Northern Westchester Hospital who provided such amazing support and guided me through this experience,” she added. “Although Jack was not able to be there for the birth of our daughter, we are so fortunate that his test came back negative.”
Hedges is now in good health and he’s enjoying time with his newborn daughter and wife at home.
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