She was just five days old when she made history as one of Canada’s youngest patients to be hospitalized for COVID-19. And now that she and her family are recovering from a frightening experience that included four days of intensive care for the newborn who had temporarily stopped breathing, her parents are urging people to get tested at the first sign of a symptom. virus.
“At the sign of any symptoms, just take a test and wait for the results,” Nora’s father said. “And if you’re negative, keep going. And if you are positive then there is a protocol for that too. ”
Everything seemed fine when Nora was born in a Calgary hospital on November 22. Hours after her birth at 8 a.m., Nora was walking home with her parents, Ceyda Alaf Forrest and Ben Forrest.
” Everything was fine. She was doing great, we were all doing great, ”Ceyda said.
‘Like a train just hit me’
But the next day, Ceyda woke up feeling bad.
“It was like a train had hit me,” she says. “My eyes were swollen, my sinuses and throat were sore, and I had a small runny nose. I thought I just had a cold because I wasn’t asleep and had just given birth and was very tired.
The next day, Ben woke up with similar symptoms. The next day it was Ceyda’s mother and 20-month-old daughter, Hazel.
“Since we had a runny nose, we booked our COVID tests,” she said.
The next day – while the family awaited their results – Nora developed a fever.
“We looked and they said if they were less than two months old you had to take them to the emergency room immediately, which we did,” Ceyda said.
It was there, nine hours later, that the family was informed that Nora was positive for COVID-19.
The whole family has tested positive
“Around that time, we found out that we all have COVID, when we got a message from Alberta Health saying we are positive,” Ceyda said.
As doctors worked to decide whether or not the infant would be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) or a regular unit, Nora stopped breathing.
“The way they explained it to us was that she suffered from apnea, where she periodically forgot to breathe and so they had to put her on ventilation,” Ben said. “They intubated her in intensive care and it was definitely a pretty traumatic experience for both of us, but the procedure went well. ”
Dr Jim Kellner, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary, said while severe COVID-19 infections are rarer in children, doctors worry more about infants in their first year of life, especially if they are premature or born with a medical condition.
1st year a risky period
“These children can end up being admitted to intensive care at a rate similar to that of adults, and they can have a very difficult situation,” he said. “Of course, the first year of life is a particularly risky period for children. If they have to contract severe COVID, this is an age at which they can contract it. ”
While the hospital sent Ben home immediately after his daughter was admitted to intensive care – in an effort to limit the number of COVID-positive people in the hospital – Ceyda remained with Nora in intensive care for the four days following, then in another unit in the hospital for nine more.
“She was very irritable and she just didn’t want to sleep,” Ceyda said. “She cried nonstop for 20 hours. She was crying and I had to bounce her. I couldn’t sleep for a few days either. ”
The family said they were told their daughter, who was only five days old when admitted to intensive care, made history as one of the youngest patients with COVID -19 in Canada to be hospitalized.
At the sign of any symptoms, simply take a test, then wait for the results.– Ben Forrest
Slowly but surely, things got better for Nora – and the rest of her family.
It took just a few days for her parents and 20-month-old sister Hazel to recover, but her grandmother suffered longer.
“Ceyda’s mother was bedridden,” Ben said. “She took the longest, probably 10 days to recover. ”
Now the family is home together.
“Nora is gaining weight, she’s more alert and she looks at us and she even smiles sometimes. It’s pretty cute to see, ”Ceyda said. “She is spending more and more time awake instead of just sleeping. So, in fact, we’re doing a lot better. ”
In Alberta, more children per capita than any other province have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in part because the province has done so much testing, Kellner said.
“The good news is that, regardless of the number of cases, there really haven’t been that many cases of COVID-19 in children,” he said. “And the results in these children are much milder on average than in adults. We have had no deaths to our knowledge in children under the age of 18 in Alberta.
Ben said most parents know that children often have a runny nose and a fever.
“And right now, for every runny nose, the whole house is out of service until the test results come back, and at this point, this was the fourth time we’ve been there,” he said. he declares. “We went through three of your ordinary runny noses and the fourth, we were so surprised when we got the positive test result. ”
He said that while it might seem easy to indulge, their family history illustrates why it’s important to follow guidelines and health protocols.
“What I learned from this experience is that the measurements are there for a reason. They don’t want parents to judge whether it’s COVID or not, ”he said.
“Our little girl may not have succeeded. And just the idea, it’s amazing how serious it could get, ”she said. “At the end of the day, taking all the precautions and doing whatever you’re supposed to do, it’s just one less thing to worry about in the end.
The family said they did not know how or where they contracted the virus, having limited their circle to immediate family in the weeks leading up to Nora’s birth.
“We’re a unique case because Ceyda was 40 weeks pregnant and so we weren’t going to malls and stuff like that,” Ben said. “We didn’t leave the house very often and we didn’t see anyone, really. ”
Long-term implications unknown
As to the long-term impact of COVID-19 on babies like Nora, Kellner said little was known.
“Honestly, we’ll all be a lot smarter and more experienced in a few months and a year or two at the moment. But in the meantime, we have to do our best with the knowledge we have, ”he told me.
The family said they were grateful to the staff at the Alberta Children’s Hospital who helped them and Nora along the way.
“We are lucky to have something like [the children’s hospital] here in Calgary, ”said Ben.