There is just so much happiness and fulfillment in becoming a new mom. But Covid-19 has brought so much pain and additional burden to pregnant women since 2020. There are so many new safety measures that expectant moms needed to fulfill while anticipating their due date. The worst is getting infected with the dreaded virus. Read this story about a brave warrior mom Rich Ann Peñaroya-Zayco of Bacolod City. She was tested Covid-19 positive and was taken into quarantine on the second day after she gave birth. Let’s read about her harrowing experience.
Childbirth During the Pandemic
At 29, Bacolod mom Rich Ann Peñaroya Zayco seemed to have everything going for her. She is a corporate executive and events singer on the side who was about to get married to the man of her dreams.
Her then-fiancé and now her husband Leandro Zayco popped the question in June 2019 and their grand wedding was scheduled for May 2020. But as early as January, reports of Covid-19 cases in the Philippines already started.
By February, they learned that they were pregnant–an answered prayer because they have been wanting to have a baby already. But by March, Bacolod City already declared a lockdown.
With the coming baby, the couple pushed for an intimate civil ceremony in June 2020. That was already a wedding, baby’s gender reveal, and Leandro’s birthday all rolled into one. It was a garden ceremony attended by some family members, principal sponsors, and a few friends.
“We were all happy and excited because it’s a baby girl. Our baby would be the only girl on my husband’s side. And being a kikay mom, I was really hoping and praying for a baby girl,” Mommy Rich enthuses.
Excitement Turned to Torment
Despite the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy, Mommy Rich was very happy and excited to deliver her baby girl. They picked the name Leanna Ibiza, “Lean” from Daddy Leandro and “Anna” from Mommy Rich’s grandma.
They were expecting Baby Leanna on the second week of October but by mid-September, contractions already started. Mommy Rich got steroid shots in order to prepare the baby’s lungs, in case she came out early.
Mommy Rich was scheduled to have her required swab test on September 19. But before her result came out, her baby’s heart started beating too fast and the contractions didn’t stop even after taking the prescription.
The sad thing was, no Bacolod hospital would take her in because her swab result wasn’t ready. Only Bacolod Adventist Medical Center (BAMC) agreed to rapid testing.
“I tested negative with the rapid test. So on September 22, I gave birth via C-Section. The following day, I was released from the hospital,” Mommy Rich recalls.
The Bomb: Covid-19 Positive
On September 24, still fresh from surgery and the new-mom excitement, Mommy Rich received a shocking e-mail from Doctor’s Hospital.
Her swab test result:
“It seemed like my world stopped,” Mommy Rich recalls.
That time, she was carrying little Leanna while her eldest, Kane, slept on her other arm. She immediately remembered that her hubby stayed with her in the hospital. “He would even kiss and hug me and we shared the same food and utensils. His family also prepared a welcome dinner when we came home. Everyone was exposed to me!”
With this crushing realization, Mommy Rich immediately told them to go out of the room and to keep the kids away from her.
“I called my OB-Gyne to inform them and asked about what I should do. I was told that the NIATF was very strict so they would bring me to a quarantine site,” she recalls.
Since it was her second-day post-op, it was natural that Mommy Rich preferred home quarantine. However, that option was no longer allowed because so many people in the past have abused this privilege.
“I called everyone that I know but no one can do anything for me. It is mandated by law that even pregnant and sick people should be brought to a quarantine facility.”
In Quarantine After Childbirth
The following day, Mommy Rich was picked up by a nurse and policemen. “They informed me that I needed to go with them. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. The fear and anxiety plus all the post-partum hormones kept me worried and crying,” she relates.
“My husband didn’t want me to go to a quarantine facility because it was really hard for me to walk.”
But there was nothing they could do. Despite being asymptomatic, Mommy Rich was separated from her newborn and was brought to GoHotels in Mandalagan. “Three days after CS operation and I was left on my own to dress my own wound,” she says.
An Emergency Case
As if all these weren’t enough, Mommy Rich’s blood pressure shot up to 160/120 on September 28. “My normal BP was only 90/60 or 90/50. I also noticed that I couldn’t move my face anymore,” Mommy Rich recalls.
Her facial paralysis worried everyone because she might have suffered a stroke or something serious. She was immediately rushed to the Metro Bacolod Hospital – the only hospital with a vacant room for Covid-19 positive patients.
“I underwent many tests. The good thing was, my CT-SCAN came out normal so the possibility of a stroke was eradicated,” she says.
Remembering her time at the quarantine facility, Mommy Rich says, “Those were the longest and saddest days of my life. My husband would always come and see me through the window. They would park the car on the street so that I could look at them. He would sometimes bring the kids with him so that I can have a glimpse of them.”
It was later established that her facial paralysis was associated with Covid-19, which was probably exacerbated because of post-partum stress and anxiety.
The Breastfeeding Diversion
Mommy Rich had already decided to breastfeed her new baby. So when she packed her bags to go to the quarantine facility, she brought her breast pump with her.
“I kept on pumping so I could still feed my baby even though I was not around. It was the only thing that kept me busy in the hotel as well as the hospital,” she remembers.
While at the GoHotels for quarantine, Mommy Rich underwent a class under Dr. Kat Villapando, a certified breastfeeding counselor. “I learned a lot more about techniques and the proper way of pumping and breastfeeding. It also helped me momentarily forget about the situation that I was in.”
“I’m a proud breastfeeding mom. I breastfed my eldest for 8 months and I’m hoping to do the same or even longer with Leanna.” Mommy Rich was separated from her baby for three weeks during the quarantine. But 4 months later, she is still breastfeeding.
“I am also helping other new moms out there to push with breastfeeding so I donate some of my milk.”
Reunited with Her Family
On October 2, the infectious disease doctor, Dr. Tiples Ruiz, asked for a rapid test and the result came out Negative. It was only then that Mommy Rich was permitted to go home on Oct. 3.
Obviously, she just needed to be surrounded by her family.
Surviving the Ordeal of Being Covid-19 Positive
With lots of love, support, and prayers, Mommy Rich survived the ordeal of giving birth early through C-Section, being Covid-19 positive, and the isolation in quarantine. These are the things that a new mom should never go through, however, the pandemic has drastically altered our dynamics.
“It was such a trying and difficult time but it taught me a lot. I learned to appreciate the little things, such as the sun, air, the freedom to go outside, and most of all — the love and time with family,” Mommy Rich relates.
During her lowest times, Mommy Rich also found it a good time to be quiet with the Lord. “When you offer and give it all to him, he will always hear you! Not mine but his will be done, always!”
Mommy Rich also learned to appreciate the people who truly cared. “Depression, anxiety, fear plus all the hormones almost made me crazy.”
The Difference Between Her Two Pregnancies
Mommy Rich has a first-born son, Kane, and she said everything was so easy back then. With her second child, “I only had my laboratory and first personal checkup with my OB-Gyne at 7 months.” Her OB-Gyne is Dr. Tina Gozar while her hubby, Dr. Judah Gozar, is the pedia.
The check-ups were mostly done online because Mommy Rich is friends with her OB-Gyne and pediatrician. And for her, “Dr. Tina and Dr. Judah are the best tandem, ever!”
Mommy Rich says that she only sees the pedia when it’s time for scheduled vaccines.
“They are also very careful in their clinic. The weighing scale is cleaned after each patient and a layer of paper towels is placed under the baby. Meanwhile, the doorknobs are sanitized with alcohol every time a patient touches it.”
Plus, there are also air purifiers inside the clinic.
With all that she has been through, I am allowing Mommy Rich to publish her thanksgiving. Through this blog, Mommy Rich would like to once again thank the people who rallied behind her during a difficult childbirth experience. Plus, being Covid-19 positive was the worst.
- The best doctor tandem, husband and wife team, Dr. Tina Tinio-Gozar and Dr. Judah Gozar
- Dr. Sam Yasay
- Dr. Kat Villapando
- Dr. Aio Gallaga-Esteban and Dr. Paolo Esteban
- Dr. Kaye Bautista
- Covid Warriors of Negros family
- The Ocampo family
- The Jamero family
- Her bosses in the sugar trading family and friends never ceased to pray and helped strengthen her faith.
“My family, the incredible Zaycos, I owe you a lot. Thank you for sharing with me the word of Jesus through Victory Christian Fellowship! To my Peñaroya family, thanks for the strength and for making me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry. My husband Leandro, thank you for being with me through sickness and in health. And to my kids who gave me hope and strength to keep on living and fighting.”
“Lastly, this may be one of the hardest and most trying times of my life but it is my most beautiful encounter with the Lord. All thanks and glory to Him that I survived and I’m still here with my family.”