After COVID and 2-Month Wait, Emotional Reunion for Mom, Infant

'I got to finally see my baby that I was waiting for so long to see,' says NH's Macenzee Keller
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 26, 2022 9:00 AM CST
Mom Meets Baby 2 Months After Birth After COVID Bout
In this image, Macenzee Keller, 20, of Manchester, NH, clutches her 2-month-old son, Zachery, for the first time since she gave birth, at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, on Feb. 3.   (Kata Sasvari photograph via AP)

After giving birth, most new moms can't wait to see their child. For Macenzee Keller, it would take more than two months, as she fought for her life against COVID-19 while under sedation and breathing with the help of machines. Mother and child were reunited on Feb. 3 when Keller's mom brought the healthy 11-pound, 13-ounce baby boy named Zachery to her hospital bedside, per the AP. "It was very emotional because I was like, 'Oh, I got to finally see my baby that I was waiting for so long to see,'" said Keller, who has since returned home to Manchester, NH. Two weeks before her Dec. 7 due date, Keller was diagnosed with COVID-19. She remembers leaving her apartment for the hospital on Nov. 27, suffering from shortness of breath—and that's it.

Her son, Zachery, was born the next day via emergency cesarean section at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester. She was sedated and intubated at the time. Keller was later transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in the city of Lebanon. Keller—still sedated, still very sick—was put on a specialized blood oxygenation treatment. Blood was pumped out of her body into an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO for short) machine, which removes carbon dioxide, then pumps the blood back into the body. "People like Macenzee who are younger and have a really good chance of getting better—she's kind of the perfect candidate for us to offer it," said Ciaran Moloney, a nurse who was part of her care team at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Keller was on the ECMO circuit for 47 days. Patients usually get the treatment for closer to a month or less, Moloney said. It was touch and go at times. Keller was still hooked up to a ventilator. "I would come in some days and she would be taking larger breaths, and then she would have setbacks," Moloney said. "There were times where we were very scared of how she was doing." Keller wasn't vaccinated against COVID-19, and says she planned to wait until after she delivered to get the shot. She'd heard that some people feel sick for a day after getting the vaccine, "and I was just nervous that if I did get it, it would cause complications to Zachery." The CDC says COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, and that the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.

Doctors told Keller she has to wait a couple more weeks before she can be vaccinated now. In hindsight, when asked if she would have made the same choice, she said, "I don't know. Part of me says I would have got the vaccine, but then another part of me still says that I didn't want to risk anything." Keller, who's engaged to be married, still uses a pulse oximeter to measure her blood oxygen levels and has additional therapy appointments to help with her walking. But her recovery is considered amazing, Moloney said. "She went from being completely reliant on the ECMO pump to being fully interactive within just a span of a couple of weeks," he said. He added, "My wife, we found out she was pregnant roughly around the same time, and that just made it very emotional for me to see everything that Macenzee was going through."

(Read more newborn stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.