DES MOINES, Iowa — Only weeks after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, Rebecca Backstrom noticed that her oldest daughter was sick.
At first, she assumed it was a 24-hour bug — but then the oldest tested positive for COVID-19. Then, her second oldest fell sick. She feared that her newborn, Willow, was following in their footsteps.
"I brought her to the ER, and I was just shocked to hear that it was COVID-19. Because we haven't really done a whole lot or been around a lot of people. And so I, you know, felt like we had been being fairly cautious," she said. "And unfortunately, we still all got sick."
The entire family was soon dealing with the effects of the coronavirus. Backstrom says she struggled with the responsibilities of taking care of three sick children while still recovering herself.
"It was very difficult because I am also not feeling well. You know, I am on the mend. But it's really hard to care for, you know, toddlers and a newborn baby and not feel the guilt of you know, at this point, I need to go home and rest as well, because I also have COVID-19," she said.
Dr. Stanley Perlman, a pediatric professor at the University of Iowa, says cases like Willow's haven't been closely researched yet.
"For babies, for newborn babies under the age of 30-days-old, I don't know any studies that tell you about long term consequences or even how many children really get sick with it," Perlman said.
He says if you find yourself visiting a new baby at the hospital or in a home, make sure you are healthy enough to do so with caution.
"In 2022, with risks of COVID-19, parents [and] visitors should wash their hands. Visitors probably would be a case-by-case basis but, probably, [they] should minimally touch a newborn baby," he said. "The most important thing is if there's any hint of the caretaker, the person visiting being ill, they shouldn't come."
Backstrom says there were moments during her fight with COVID-19 when she couldn't provide care for her kids, leading her to rely on the hospital for help.
"It's been very helpful to know that they're in good hands, that that my newborn is in good hands here, and is being supervised by a great team of medical professionals," she said. "So you know, I can go home and I can get some rest so I can better parent."
Willow is expected to be discharged from the hospital today, which will let the Backstrom family be together as a whole for the first time in almost six weeks.