Statesville mom still recovering after contracting COVID during pregnancy

STATESVILLE, N.C. — Valerie Allen was pregnant and ready to give birth to her fourth child at Iredell Memorial Hospital in Statesville, but COVID disrupted her plans -- and her health.

Last month, just a week before her scheduled induction date, the 29-year-old tested positive for the virus, as did her husband, her three kids and her parents.

Allen and her children are not vaccinated, but she’s the only one in her family who showed symptoms, even though she had no previous underlying health conditions. A few days later, Allen delivered her daughter, Zoe, naturally in the hospital while in quarantine.

“I couldn’t even kiss my own daughter because I had COVID and I didn’t want her to get it,” she said. “That was the really scary thing about it.”

Once home, Allen’s symptoms got worse. At one point, she fell in the shower, unable to get up. That prompted another visit to the hospital, where Allen discovered she had COVID pneumonia in both lungs while in the critical care unit.

Allen spent 18 days away from her family, unsure if she’d make it out alive.

“I was alone and, you know, Facetime and texting what I could,” she told Channel 9. “There were people around me -- I could see from my room -- that were dying from the same thing I had.”

Things turned around once Allen accepted the medicine she initially declined because it wouldn’t allow her to breast feed her daughter. Hospital nurses convinced her they were running out of options, and that a ventilator was imminent.

>> See the full CDC guidance for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding

After a lot of treatment, Allen is COVID-free and caring for Zoe at home, but she still has pneumonia.

“I have my breathing treatments,” she explained, pulling out a grocery bag full of medication.

Allen recently got off supplemental oxygen but still needs breathing treatments and steroids as she works to regain her strength after being bed-ridden. She’s waiting to make a full recovery so she can get vaccinated, but that could take months.

She’s said she hopes others don’t wait like she did.

“I really regret not getting vaccinated because you never know what’s going to happen,” Allen said.

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