Pregnant Edwardsburg resident recovers from COVID-19

Published 8:24 am Saturday, April 11, 2020

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EDWARDSBURG — In mid-March, 20-year-old Amber Salguero developed a cough and began getting short of breath quickly.

However, at 20 weeks pregnant, the Edwardsburg native thought little of her symptoms, attributing them to her changing body and weight gain associated with carrying her first child. Eventually, Salguero’s symptoms worsened, and small tasks, like walking to the bathroom or getting out of bed, left her feeling winded as though she had run a marathon. That is when she began to fear she was experiencing something far worse than she initially thought.

On March 29, Salguero, a 2017 Edwardsburg High School graduate, tested positive for the COVID-19, making her one of the first four patients in Cass County to contract the global virus, according to numbers reported by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on March 30. As of press time Friday, Cass County had reported 10 positive cases of COVID-19 and one related death from a man over the age of 65.

Though according to Harvard Health Publishing, there is no current evidence to indicate those who are pregnant are more severely affected by the virus than the general public, many doctors consider those who are pregnant, like Salguero, an at-risk group due to the way the immune system’s efficacy dips during pregnancy.

Now on the road to recovery, Salguero said she wants to share her story to raise awareness of the seriousness of the virus and encourage fellow southwest Michigan residents to stay home to slow its spread.

“At first, I was terrified. It was my worst nightmare,” Salguero said, her voice ringing out over a phone speaker, the only way she has been able to communicate to anyone outside of the house in which she is quarantined. “I read a lot online, and at the time, there wasn’t a lot about pregnant women getting the virus or how it might affect the baby. When I found out I was one of the first people in Cass County to get it, that scared me even more, because it’s not something you think will happen to you, especially when you are pregnant.”

Salguero came in contact with the virus through her boyfriend, Jacob. His mother, who had known contact with someone who had the virus, came down with symptoms that initially led doctors to believe she had pneumonia. When doctors realized Jacob’s mother had COVID-19, the family who had contact with her were quarantined to their home in Indiana on March 17. That included Salguero, who lives full-time in Edwardsburg. A week later, Salguero started exhibiting her own symptoms.

“At first, things were fine,” she said. “I could walk down the stairs, and I was fine. I could make dinner, and I was fine. By the third or fourth day, I really had to catch up on my breathing. Eating or drinking wasn’t something I wanted to do. I had to stay in bed, and eventually, I had trouble keeping up to talk to people.”

In addition to her shortness of breath, which she said was “by far the worst” of her symptoms, Salguero experienced a mild fever and coughing. Toward the end of her illness, she said her sides would hurt due to how much and how hard she was coughing.

“I was just scared,” Salguero said. “I have never had a problem with breathing or with asthma, so it was like one day I just wasn’t myself. … It makes you think about this life I’m carrying. Are they OK? Is this going to hurt them in the long run?”

Other than her symptoms, Salguero said the hardest part of contracting COVID-19 had been the way it has turned her life upside down. Weeks ago, she and Jacob were supposed to find out the sex of the baby but had to cancel all of their doctor’s appointments due to the diagnosis. Even though she has been quarantined in the same house as her boyfriend and his 3-year-old son, she needed to be regulated to a separate room, primarily communicating with them via video chat. Though she said Jacob, his son and her unborn child have been what have been pushing her to stay strong throughout her illness, the stress of COVID-19 has made it difficult to enjoy her pregnancy.

“I’ve felt so disconnected with the outside world,” Salguero said. “It’s been really hard. … When this is all done, I’m looking forward to celebrating milestones. We have had to kind of postpone everything until all the craziness is over. I’m looking forward to having a baby shower and celebrating that we all got over this.”

Salguero’s diagnosis has not only been difficult for her, but her loved ones as well. Her mother, Sheryl Salguero, has not seen her daughter in nearly three weeks. When she came to visit her daughter, they had to communicate through a closed door.

“It has been so hard,” Sheryl said, becoming emotional at the memory. “It has been so hard not being there for her. It’s just so scary. This is my first grandchild, and you just want to be there for her first everything, but we can’t right now.”

The distance has been equally hard on Amber, who said the first thing she wants to do when she can break quarantine is to hug her mother.

“I can’t wait to see her and tell her I did it,” she said.

Soon, the pair will be reunited, as Salguero was cleared this week by her doctors to come out of quarantine. Sheryl said she is planning to have Salguero home with family in time for Easter.

“We are really excited,” Sheryl said. “We are all going to be together again.”

Even though she has now recovered, Salguero is planning on taking things slowly and staying home to flatten the curve of COVID-19. She hopes others will do the same.

“I hope everyone takes my advice,” she said, her voice tired, and her breath fatigued after a 20-minute conversation. “Stay home to not only protect yourself, but also the ones you love.”