“Take one day at a time” became the King family’s motto early on during Brittany’s pregnancy. After her water broke prematurely at only 24 weeks of pregnancy, Brittany and Cory knew they faced a difficult journey ahead. “I had just started a new job at Central High School,” Brittany says. “That only lasted three days before my water broke. I was admitted to the hospital for the rest of the month.”
The amniotic sac protects a growing baby in the womb. Preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) occurs when the membranes of the sac rupture too early, before the 37th week of pregnancy, putting a woman and her baby at serious risk. After experiencing PPROM at 24 weeks into her pregnancy, Brittany stayed at Altru for close monitoring to prevent early labor. Thankfully, near the end of the month-long hospital stay, a test showed the amniotic sac had repaired itself. Brittany was cleared to return home.
An Unexpected Diagnosis
Brittany took life slower to stay healthy following her discharge. She left home only to drop her daughter off at daycare, pick up curbside grocery delivery and go to biweekly hospital visits to check on the baby. After one Thursday appointment, she began experiencing strange symptoms.
“I messaged my doctor to ask if body aches were a normal pregnancy side effect,” Brittany says. “They were progressively getting worse. The doctor said no, and she wanted me to take a COVID-19 test. A test was required for my upcoming scheduled C-section, but I went for a rapid test a few days earlier than planned.”
Three days later, Brittany started experiencing contractions and went into labor before her planned delivery. The same morning, she received a positive COVID-19 test result.
“We entered for delivery like any normal couple,” Cory says. “But they knew of Brittany’s diagnosis. We were greeted by the friendly faces of our care team, but our caregivers were gowned in full PPE, head to toe.”
Brittany and Cory joyously welcomed Thomson John, born a healthy 6 pounds and 13 ounces, into the world on Monday, Nov. 23. Though
Thomson was born a few weeks early, his parents were relieved he made it to 36 weeks and 1 day of pregnancy. While following COVID-19 protocols, the couple spent the first hours with Thomson, talking and laughing about what was to come with the new addition to the family, unaware that Brittany’s health was slowly declining.
Turn For The Worst
After the Kings spent some quality time with Thomson, he was admitted to the NICU for blood glucose level monitoring. Shortly after, Brittany’s symptoms began to worsen. Her temperature skyrocketed, and she began vomiting and struggling to breathe. By Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, Brittany was in critical condition and moved from her private room to the COVID-19 critical care unit. She only stayed there for 24 hours before being moved into the ICU. Her oxygen levels continued to drop, and a CT scan revealed the infection had moved to her lungs. Brittany needed to lie flat on her stomach to get more oxygen, but lying face down was painful because of her C-section incision. Medications were not helping, and her providers ultimately made the decision to sedate her and put her on a ventilator.
“I went home alone on Thanksgiving day with Thomson,” Cory says. “That’s when I got the call they had moved her and she was no longer cognizant. We had a baby on Monday, and Brittany was fighting for her life in the ICU on Friday.” To make matters worse, Cory and their 3-year-old daughter, Suttyn, both received positive COVID-19 test results the day after Thomson was brought home. With Brittany hospitalized and Cory’s positive diagnosis, he made the smart but heartwrenching decision to move Thomson to Brittany’s parents’ home for a few weeks.
Every Day a Better Day
Brittany remained in a coma and on a ventilator for three days, during which time she also experienced a seizure. The doctors explained this wasn’t a setback, but only a bump in the road of her recovery. After her blood work and oxygen levels stabilized, they decided to wean her out of the coma and see how her body responded.
“We didn’t know what condition she would be in,” Cory says. “When people are on a ventilator, they lose their strength and sometimes need therapy. But when she woke up, she was adamant to get out of bed. It’s a miracle how quickly she recovered. We were able to go home three days after she woke up.”
After a long road of illness, fear and uncertainty, the family was reunited together with their new baby as the year came to a close. Now, everyone’s health is almost back to normal.
“I feel so much better,” Brittany says. “Sometimes I’m tired, which I’m unsure if that’s just having a newborn or a lingering symptom. I’m also having difficulty with my memory. I can’t remember most of my hospital stay. And I really hope that improves.” Cory and Suttyn recovered well, too, after experiencing milder COVID-19 symptoms.
Brittany and Cory are thankful for the support they received from the community and the hospital staff at Altru.
“I told them from the beginning: she isn’t just another COVID-19 patient—she is my world,” Cory says. “And they listened and took care
of her like they would one of their own. Our physician, Dr. Eickenbrock, was a godsend. She ran to collect things we had left in our car and held Brittany’s hand in the ICU when I couldn’t be there.”
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