Naveen Khan and her baby

Naveen Khan hold her baby boy.

Pandemic Life is a series looking at how individuals are living their lives during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mt. Washington -- Naveen Khan has lived in Glassell Park and Mt Washington for 17 years.  Khan, who founded and heads a health tech company, Patient Pal, gave birth to a baby boy in March -- 1-1/2 months early and at the beginning of COVID-19 chaos.

In a Q&A, Khan describes her experience giving birth during the pandemic.

What was it like being pregnant during the pandemic? How did you feel?

It was scary. I was worried about the baby and me in case I became sick. It was tough to not have access to food like before.

We had to figure out how and when to shop and make sure we were all protected. Rules were always changing and we heard through people we work with at Columbia University that they were not letting husband's into the OR. It was nerve-wracking.

What was your experience like going into labor?

I took a nap in the middle of the day and woke up and had some blood and then contractions.

When I went into labor, the nurses were amazing. They were thoughtful and caring. While there were new procedures, they were helpful.

My husband could not come in so they made sure my phone was charged so I could speak with him.

It was difficult to wear a mask and be in labor. All the staff were frightened too.

My doctor and team took me into the OR and I had a C-Section. My husband had to put a lot of PPE on and wasn't allowed in until after the birth. It was scary and awful not having him with me.

How did you feel after giving birth and found out he was taken into intensive care?

It is difficult to describe how soul wrenching and heartbreaking it was not to see my son immediately or even hours after he was born or hold him. I felt like I was going crazy. I was extremely upset and lost. I knew the NICU was the best place for him but it was very hard not to look after him and cuddle him.

The nurses in NICU experience this everyday and don't understand how a mother feels, they were very dismissive. I asked to be wheelchaired to my son but they didn't get to me for 24 hours.

My husband and I were not able to be together for 20 days. We would be shouted at constantly because only one of us was allowed in NICU, and John would walk me to NICU, as I needed help after my operation. But parents were not allowed to go there together.

They would stand at the door and bounce him or me out.

When you arrive you have to go through thorough cleaning procedures. Procedures constantly changed, like wearing overalls and not. We would have a temperature check every time we went in. Once we had a high temperature reading because the temp reader was broken and they wouldn't let us see our son, which made me panic. We asked them to get the thermometer checked and they found it was faulty.

How did you feel when you finally were able to come home with your newborn baby?

Absolutely elated, exhausted. Extremely grateful. I had been seeing my son through a camera and it was heartbreaking every night.

Naveen with her husband and newborn baby

Naveen with her husband, John, and their newborn baby

What's your advice for expecting mothers?

Plan. Make sure you have support, food prepared, speak with your doctor about your birth plan and the changes due to COVID-19. Clarify the COVID procedures so you know what to expect and can plan.

Put work aside immediately, it will always be there. We spent 11 hours a day in the NICU, we barely ate, had no support and we were not fully prepared for our son to come home as we thought we had time to shop.

The NICU nurses asked us to get some things for home, so we had to go to Target. They would not let us in and asked us to line up. This was really scary as we were risking infection and then not seeing our son if we contracted coronavirus. This was before drive-up etc.

Ensure you have all your accounts set up for ordering online. Get all the things you potentially need early.

How has your life changed during the pandemic? The Eastsider is accepting first-person stories (no more than 500 words) on the subject. You must live in our coverage area to participate. Please contact Melody@TheEastsiderLA.com for details. 

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