May 8, 2020 / 10:36 AM / a month ago

Texas nurse expecting Mother's Day baby makes tough choices over virus fears

Pregnant nurse Samantha Salinas attends an appointment with her midwives at Birth Center Stone Oak amid a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in San Antonio, Texas, U.S., May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

(Reuters) - Samantha Salinas never planned to give birth during a global pandemic, but Mother’s Day 2020 may be when her baby finally arrives.

The 33-year-old nurse, whose second child is due on Friday, said she had worked through her first pregnancy with ease in San Antonio, Texas. But news that COVID-19 patients were checking into her intensive care unit in April prompted her to make some changes.

“I called in to say I’m not coming,” Salinas said. “It’s distressing being pregnant. You always think who’s sick around you. What worries me is there’s so much unknown. So many people can be carriers and asymptomatic. That’s a huge blind spot.”

The hospital reassigned her to a part-time job in another building doing patient follow-ups by phone. The fewer work hours reduced her income, but safety was her priority.

“The vertical transmission was what I was afraid of, not so much my getting sick, but the baby getting sick,” Salinas said.

Salinas wants to continue working as late as possible into her pregnancy so she can spend more of the time off she is entitled to with her newborn.

She loves caring for patients, but is also grateful for the extra time at home with her husband Tim, 35, a math teacher and football coach, and their one-year-old daughter Macie.

“As frustrating as it was to be a nurse, now that I’m not at the bedside I’m feeling a bit guilty. I’m working in an office,” she said.

“My husband gets a little stir crazy, and the baby wants to go places. But there’s nothing more important than protecting us.”

Writing by Richard Chang, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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