Over the course of the three long months after she gave birth, Paola Gambini was only able to hold her baby twice.
As her due date drew near in late July, Paola contracted COVID-19. On July 29, she realized she was having trouble breathing, and her fiancé, Michael Hazen, called 911. Apparently, just in the nick of time.
“I remember the EMT saying, ‘You’re so lucky you called us. I don’t know that you would have made it,’” Paola said.
The doctors at Orlando Health’s Winne Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies determined that Paola needed an emergency C-section, and Paola and Michael welcomed Lilliana into the world on July 30. In a happy coincidence, July 30 is also Michael’s birthday!
“She was the best birthday present ever,” the proud dad said.
But even though her baby was born safe and sound, the end of Paola’s stay in the hospital was nowhere near. Paola spent 85 days in Orlando Health’s Regional Medical Center, two weeks of which she spent on a ventilator.
Finally, over a month after she gave birth, Paola was able to see Lilliana in person again when the hospital allowed Michael to bring the baby in for a visit.
“I remember waking up and they sang happy birthday to me and asked if I was ready to see my baby,” Paola said. “They had balloons and my whole room was decorated.”
Naturally, the new mom needed to hold her little one.
“They let me hold her but I was so weak, I didn’t want to drop her,” Paola said. “My arms were so weak.”
Although the road to recovery was slow, Paola continued to improve, and on October 22, she got to go home to continue her recovery. Soon after she entered her home and greeted her parents, Paola’s mother brought Lilliana to her and no eye was left dry.
Paola still had to participate in an outpatient rehab program to ensure her continued recovery, but one thing is certain. This little family is overjoyed to be reunited!
We are so incredibly grateful that Paola recovered and that she, Michael, and Lilliana are together again.
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