Kara Bennett tested positive for COVID-19 the day before she gave birth. Her twin daughters are in the NICU, but she’s only seen them on video.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Preparing for twins, Casey and Kara Bennett have two cribs, two blankets and everything they need to welcome newborns into their home.
However, the cubs arrived early and are in the NICU at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Since their birth last Thursday, Kara hasn’t held her babies once.
“I don’t feel like I’m having kids,” Kara said, “I missed those critical bonding moments initially. I know the importance of that.”
Two days before giving birth, she tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms. Due to hospital policy, she cannot visit her babies in the NICU until the end of a ten-day isolation period.
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“In the OR, on the side, they were brought to me for a minute to see their faces and say hello,” Kara said, “And then they were taken to NICU. was about 5 seconds of being close, but I couldn’t really touch them or anything.”
Casey, the father, can visit the babies in the NICU. He brings breast milk to the babies and video chats with Kara from home. Casey said he felt guilty for being there without his wife.
“We know they have to be in the NICU,” Casey said, “But at the same time, they have to be with their mom.”
Kara is actually a nurse at Spectrum Health. Hospital protocol for staff who test positive and asymptomatic can return to work after five days of isolation. In fact, Casey said that because her employer didn’t know she had given birth early, she was told she could return to work on Sunday.
“It’s just inhumane that the nurses can come home after five, but the parents are separated for ten hours,” Casey said.
Spectrum Health sent this statement regarding its isolation protocols for patients:
“At Spectrum Health, the health and safety of our patients, their families and our team members is of the utmost importance. The bonds between mother, baby and family are very important, and we do our best to best for all parents and families to connect with their children in these situations.Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Spectrum Health has closely followed CDC guidelines while striving to implement innovative and compassionate ways, such as video technology, for families to connect. In doing so, we have made tough decisions aimed at minimizing the risk of exposure to other vulnerable patients, families and team members Our hearts go out to all of our patients, their families and community members who have been impacted by COVID-19.
There is an end in sight. On Friday, Kara’s period of isolation ends, and she can finally hold her children for the first time.
“It’s hard to tell what they look like or tell them apart,” Kara said. “I see in Casey’s hands they’re so small, but I haven’t seen it yet. Hold on tight and never let go.”
They said the children are doing well in the NICU. They needed breathing assistance, but now they only used feeders and growers.
“We have the nurses saying they’re little firecrackers,” Kara said.
However, the couple said the difference in the isolation requirement is “unfathomable”, said they hoped the same situation would not happen to other parents as well.
“We thank God every day that they’re here and healthy and breathing on their own and getting better,” Casey said. “Hoping and hoping that when they get back to their mother, they can get better faster.”
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