Liv Angela Laubach was born at Beaumont Hospital, Troy, at 2:31 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2022, at 8 pounds, 10 ounces and 20 inches.
Mom Jen, dad Andre, and bedside nurse Onn Caulk Moceri, celebrated with hearty laughter, warm hugs and deep sighs of relief.
“For me, it was so joyful to be a part of it all this time, to be there when my little girl came into the world,” Andre said.
The mood was not so lighthearted when Jen delivered the Clarkston couples’ firstborn twin boys, in April 2020, eight weeks early.
At that time, the coronavirus was attacking Metro Detroit with new and unexpected ferocity, hospitalizations were surging and medical teams were learning how to care for the sickest patients. The goal was to prevent the most vulnerable, including premature newborns, from contracting the virus.
Things started going off course when Jen’s water broke unexpectedly in the early morning hours of April 2, 2020. Her husband Andre, who has asthma, was up coughing most of the night with COVID and was too sick to drive.
Jen grabbed her bag, hopped behind the wheel and drove herself to Beaumont, Troy.
She delivered Mitchell and Maksim without family support. But her medical team, Dr. Brian Torok, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Beaumont, Troy, his partner, Dr. Deborah Mikula, who delivered the twins, and her nursing team were by her side.
Beaumont’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit rallies around the tiny, preemie twins and reunites family after quarantine
The boys were immediately whisked away to the safety and isolation of the neonatal intensive care unit. Jen tested positive for COVID shortly afterwards, and it was 20 days before Beaumont epidemiologists determined it was safe for her and Andre to meet and hold their newborns for the first time.
“There were a lot of tearful moments,” Jen recalls.
Déjà vu Moment
Two years later, it was déjà vu when Jen was pregnant with her third child. Omicron was raging and hospitals were at a breaking point.
“I seriously couldn’t believe it was all still going on,” Jen said. “Just like a bad dream. The 32-week mark was especially difficult. Cases and hospitalizations were climbing, and I kept thinking, ‘Is the same thing going to happen? Will Baby Girl be born prematurely? Will we be separated from her, too? Will I get pre-eclampsia?’”
Jen’s doctor, Brian Torok, said so much more is now known with regards to protecting mother and baby.
While research indicates pregnant women who contract COVID are at significantly higher risk for developing serious illness and complications of pregnancy, Dr. Torok said, “Research also indicates the vaccine is the safest, most effective way to prevent COVID.”
Dearest Baby Girl—You were everything I needed, but I didn't know I needed it. You helped to heal the trauma I experienced from your brother’s birth. Being able to hold you, touch you and look at you right from the start was so special to your dad and me.Jen Laubach
COVID-positive pregnant women are at increased risk of hospitalization, preeclampsia, being admitted to the ICU and placed on a ventilator. Babies born to mothers with COVID are at increased risk of prematurity, respiratory failure and at a slightly higher risk of in utero death.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27,854 pregnant women with COVID-19 have been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic, of 167,000 total reported cases.
And, more than 267 have died.
Jen’s postpartum preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, and Mitchell and Maksim’s premature births were both potentially sparked by COVID-19, according to her medical team.
“This past October and November, the Delta variant was flooding our hospital again with COVID patients,” Dr. Torok said. “Then, omicron hit. Though less severe, it is more transmissible and cases of seriously ill patients continued to climb. The vast majority were unvaccinated.”
Since the peak of Beaumont’s fourth surge - 851 COVID patients system-wide on Jan. 10 - numbers have plunged dramatically.
“As cases and hospitalizations continue to decline, we are optimistic we are getting closer to the day we can finally say we have reached the endemic stage of this pandemic,” Dr. Torok said.
For their part, Andre and Jen were both vaccinated in April of 2021 and boosted in November.
To pregnant women on the fence about getting the vaccine, Jen says: “Do it! Research shows it's safe. I really do believe the vaccine protected me from getting COVID in the fall, since I had several exposures through co-workers and did not contract it.”
“When my water broke in 2020, my BP was 140/90. I delivered the boys on a Friday, went home on a Sunday and by Tuesday night was back in the hospital again with an even higher BP,” Jen said. “I was COVID positive, had chest pains from the high blood pressure and couldn’t see my babies or husband. I thought I was going to have a heart attack or stroke and would die without ever meeting the boys.”
“That was the lowest point in my life.”
Through it all, family, friends - and their Beaumont family - have been beacons in the storm for Jen and Andre.
“My medical team was with me when I was in isolation, during a time of great fear and sadness, but then also hope and joy and celebration,” Jen said. “There’s a special place in my heart for all of them, but especially my nurse, Onn, who was with me for both deliveries. I’m just so grateful for the support she and the entire team provided.”