A Durban couple are counting their blessings after welcoming a beautiful baby boy into the world in the midst of a double family tragedy.
While Christelle Berrington was fighting for her and her son’s life, her husband, Clive, lost both his mom and grandmother to Covid-19 in the same hospital.
“I never got the chance to say goodbye to them,” Christelle tells YOU. “I was giving life and they were losing theirs. It was horrible.”
For two years Christelle and her Clive had been trying for a baby.
With each disappointing pregnancy test result, the couple’s hopes faded that they would ever welcome baby No 3.
Until little Orin made an appearance.
“I had just closed my business, an aftercare centre, because of the risks of Covid-19,” Christelle tells YOU of when she became pregnant. “It happened when I was relaxed and all the pressure was off.”
Orin, whose name means light, is Christelle’s miracle baby boy.
At 35 weeks pregnant, Christelle (34) tested positive for the coronavirus and had to isolate in Durban’s Busamed Hillcrest Private Hospital.
Her blood platelets dropped to a dangerously low 14 and there were fears the unborn baby wouldn’t make it.
“While I was in hospital, Clive’s mother and grandmother were admitted to hospital with Covid. Both later died.”
Losing two family members made Christelle determined to fight for her and her son’s lives.
“The desire to take a baby home is what sustained me when things were going bad,” Christelle says.
“I thought if they lose me, two homes will be motherless. I had to make sure out of the three, one mom went home.”
Christelle discovered she was pregnant just as the country went into a lockdown. With Covid running rampant, she took extra precautions to avoid becoming infected.
“We were isolating at home, had no visitors, wore masks and sanitised when we went out – the whole thing.
“I don’t know how I caught it. I’ve gone back on the timeline so many times. I can’t overthink it more than I already have.”
When she first started showing symptoms, she immediately had a test done but it came back negative. Christelle was told she had a lung infection.
Her symptoms worsened and she was rushed to hospital. She had difficulty breathing, was coughing and had a high fever.
“The first test must have been a false negative because when they did a chest X-ray at the hospital, they discovered I had Covid pneumonia.”
Christelle was immediately sent to an isolation ward where she stayed for 16 days.
“It was horrible being separated from my family,” she
“Hearing babies crying all around you while your arms are empty, and you don’t know whether the baby inside you is going to make it was hard.”
It was difficult explaining to her two kids, Isabella (10) and Garrett (3), why their mother wasn’t home and they couldn’t go near her.
“I’ve been home for 16 days now and Garrett is still struggling,” Christelle says.
“He comes to me and says, ‘Mommy you are actually home? You’re not leaving?’”
The birth was traumatic, she says.
“Before I went in, I was told to shave. I cut myself by accident and the bleeding wouldn’t stop.”
Because of her low platelet count, her body couldn’t form blood clots which meant she bled excessively.
Christelle says the experience made her fear the Caesarean section: “Would I survive the surgery if a little razor cut could cause this much bleeding?”
Fortunately, everything went well. Orin had to be tested for Covid and once he was given the all-clear he could be reunited with his mother.
Finally holding her little one in her arms was an indescribable feeling, she says.
“I didn’t have my husband there to hold my hand but
the nurses were amazing. If it weren’t for them, I would have been totally alone.”
It’s been more than two weeks since she’s been home but Christelle says she still hasn’t adapted.
“I take it day by day. I have a newborn and I have two kids with whom I’ve lost my connection.
“My boy has changed so much. He can’t understand why I had to leave for so long. My daughter, although she has autism, is very understanding.”
Christelle is still battling long Covid symptoms like
a sore throat and runny tummy, but her platelet count is up again and she’s
slowly on the mend.
“It was the worst thing I’ve been through in my entire life,” she says.
“You’re all alone. No one can hug or touch you.
“To those who still aren’t taking it seriously, I want to say: Covid is very, very real.”