Unvaccinated Mom 'Grateful to Be Here' After Emergency Delivery, COVID Hospitalization

An unvaccinated mother in Whiteville, North Carolina, told local media that she is "grateful to be here" after she was hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19 and had to deliver her baby through an emergency C-section.

Kathryn Ayres became infected with COVID towards the end of her pregnancy in July, and within just one week, she was airlifted to a hospital in Wilmington, WECT reported.

"[My symptoms] were almost immediately respiratory and I had no energy whatsoever. I felt like I had been run over by a bus and I just couldn't even get out of the bed," Ayres told the news outlet.

Once she was taken to the hospital, doctors discovered that the baby was in distress and Ayers had an emergency C-section. Ayres was able to deliver a healthy daughter named Piper, but the next two months became increasingly debilitating for her health.

At the beginning of August, Ayres' condition worsened and she was put on a ventilator. Then, within days, her husband Brian Ayres received a phone call telling him that she would be placed on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine to help sustain her life. Kathryn had fallen into a coma, where she would remain until September 3.

"I really thought I was planning a funeral. So, I'm literally at home with a newborn and a 16-year-old trying to figure out how life is going to be now," Brian said. "Because we didn't really know from one day to the next because it was so up and down; it was such a roller coaster of emotions."

Brian told WECT that he would call the hospital four times a day, fearing that he would never again be able to see his wife.

"I never knew if I was gonna hear her voice again. I didn't know for sure if she was even going to recognize just me again; I mean, that was a concern too because I didn't know how her mental status was going to be."

Kathryn spent a total of 65 days in the hospital before she was able to go home. In the early stages of rehabilitation, Kathyrn told WECT that basic skills such as getting dressed, putting on shoes, and climbing stairs were very difficult.

"I couldn't just jump up and do the things that I used to do and, you know, I'd watch people walk around the room and I was so jealous," Kathryn said. "Getting up now I notice more because physical therapy has been working with me and I did go to the rehab hospital. Those things have gotten a little easier, but something new is almost like arthritis."

Now, Kathryn told the news outlet that she feels extremely lucky to have survived the illness and to be reunited with her husband and two children.

"There are a lot of people that aren't here, there are a lot of children that don't have their parents because of COVID and a lot of families buried loved ones, so I'm just grateful to God; there are issues but I'm here to do the work," she said.

At the time that she contracted the virus, Kathryn was unvaccinated out of fears of risking health issues with her pregnancy. Now, she told WECT that she plans to get vaccinated soon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there is no evidence to suggest the COVID-19 vaccine is harmful to pregnancies. The agency recommends that women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, should be vaccinated against the virus.

"Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19, and a healthy mom is important for a healthy baby. If you are pregnant, you might want to have a conversation with your healthcare provider about COVID-19 vaccination," the agency said on its website.

Unvaccinated Pregnant Mom COVID
An unvaccinated mom said she is "grateful to be here" after giving an emergency C-section and falling into a coma from COVID-19. Here, a stock image of a pregnant woman holding her stomach is seen on June 7, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. Ian Waldie/Getty Images