FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — A Fort Smith family is asking for prayer while a young, new mom is battling COVID-19 in the Intensive Care Unit at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith.
Eric Robison said he is taking things day by day as his wife, Emily, fights for her life against the virus.
“Baby steps everyday,” he said. “I used to think two weeks ahead of time and I used to get caught up in hopeful thinking. Now when she’s good one day, that’s what I take it as. She’s doing good today.”
Eric and Emily met on Facebook and after only dating for four months, they knew each other was the one. They have been married for four years now, but COVID-19 has changed their path.’
“She was diagnosed the day after I had COVID,” explained Eric. “We went to the emergency room because she couldn’t feel my daughter kicking anymore and she was getting sick as well. That’s when they diagnosed her with COVID.”
Eric said they had been trying to have a baby since the start of their marriage, and after some lifestyle changes, it finally happened.
COVID-19 is hitting 22-year-old Emily hard. She was put into a medically induced coma and put on a ventilator on August 18th. Their baby, Carmen, was supposed to be due November 11th. She arrived in the world more than two months early on August 25th. Carmen has spent the past few weeks in the NICU, while Emily hasn’t even been able to see or hold her new baby.
“It’s been a roller coaster to say the least,” said Eric. “Mentally exhausted from going to sleep for 10 hours a night and then waking up and feeling like you’re not ready for the world.”
“We’re asking for a lot of prayers for Emily,” said Mercy ICU nurse Ashlee Schwartz. “She’s fighting, she’s fighting very hard. We take it an hour at a time and a day at a time with her.”
Schwartz took care of Emily, and when she found out about the new baby, she reached out to her fellow coworkers to try and show some love to the new family. When a bunch of nurses were interested, she decided to reach out to Eric to see what he needed.
She said ICU nurses often get attached to their patients, who are with them for weeks on end.
“They just become your family,” said Schwartz. “They become your mom and your dad. Emily has become a sister to us and Eric has become a brother to us, and you just want to pour your heart out to this family.”
Schwartz said she tried to find an online registry for the Robisons but wasn’t successful.
“Eric didn’t know what a baby registry was, and that just made my heart feel like I had to help them more,” she said. “I asked him what all do you have and he said we have clothes and I said you’re going to need a little bit more than clothes. So I just kind of took it upon myself to start a baby registry for them.”
“I’m not usually the one to ask for help because I don’t really enjoy that feeling of asking for help, but I know if the positions were switched she’d be asking for it,” said Eric. “Anything helps, even just prayers helps.”
Schwartz wants to help them in the way that she can, to help ease their burden later.
“I pray to God He will get her through this, if He does its going to be a very long road for her,” she said.
For Eric, this situation has changed his whole perspective on the pandemic. He doesn’t want to see what he’s going through happen to any other families.
“I acted pretty loose about it before this and now it’s completely changed the my whole way of thinking,” said Eric. “Take it seriously, because if you aren’t going to get vaccinated which you should, it’s a very serious thing to take it very seriously.”
But where are we at now when it comes to expecting moms getting the COVID-19 vaccine? OBGYN Dr. Brock Wilson at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith said there is enough data out now to show that it is safe.
“The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Society for Fetal Maternal Medicine, The American Society of Reproductive Medicine, which are the doctors who do IVF pregnancies, as well as the CDC all recommend, without a doubt, emphatically that you need to be vaccinated in pregnancy,” he said.
Dr. Wilson said his own wife, who is also a healthcare worker, got her COVID-19 vaccine back in January while she was in her first trimester of pregnancy. He said their now almost-three-month-old is a happy and healthy baby.
Dr. Wilson also said Mercy has not had to expand it’s NICU room so far, as other hospitals in the state have.
Eric said baby Carmen is gaining weight, is off all of her IV’s and is doing well. Eric said he also has plans to get vaccinated soon.