Manuel, Manel for his parents, is now 9 months old. Or rather, 7. He was born at 29 weeks, on March 27, 15 days after his mother found out she was positive for covid-19. The father had been the first to test positive, but both felt good and had almost no symptoms. The SARS-CoV-2 virus that took the world in an unexpected way, also broke into the lives of Maria Lucena and her husband Francisco.

She was the first pregnant woman to become infected with the disease, when there was still almost no talk of cases in Portugal. “I was very anxious. It was right at the beginning of the pandemic, it was still unknown, even for doctors, and nobody knew very well how to deal with me and even what consequences it could have for the baby. The doctors said that, from the start, there would be no consequences. , but there were no certainties. I was afraid, very afraid, “she tells DN today with complete confidence and as if nothing had happened to him.

She says to be like this: “I am a calm, calm person. Until that time I had no problem, I always worked non-stop”. Then, from March 10, everything was different. “My husband had gone on a snow holiday in Switzerland with a group of friends in early March. When he returned he learned that a friend of the friends with whom they had been in a bar was positive. He had no symptoms, but he was worried and called the SNS line. They came home early to take the test. The next day we found out he was positive. ”

The life of Maria and Francisco, both 35 years old, changed here and suddenly. She went to her parents’ house, she felt good, but on the 13th she was tested and the result was also positive. “I had no symptoms, I realized that I had no smell or taste, but it was only for two or three days, which happens when I have a cold. At the time, not much was said about these symptoms”.

When she found out, she was anxious she confesses, then scared, for the reasons she already mentioned, but tried to stay calm for the baby. Everything got worse days later when she realized she was about to give birth. “I called my doctor and he immediately told me to attend the hospital. The baby was 30 weeks old, was being followed up in privately, but I had to go to Maternidade Alfredo da Costa [MAC], when there was still fear, an unknown virus was being dealt with. They touched me and realized that her waters had broken.”

At the time, Maria Lucena admits that she did not even know that premature babies, with Manel’s number of weeks, did not even have complete lung maturation. He had to take three injections to speed up this maturation, but on March 25, two days after being hospitalized, they had to cause her give birth, Manel had to be born by caesarean section. “I went into labour on the 26th, but I wasn’t doing the dilation, on the 27th I was tested and realized that I was getting a slight infection and decided to have a caesarean.”

The moment had come, but so different than I had imagined. At his side, there was no Francisco, who had previously both decided that he would be present at the birth, nor any other family member, the pandemic did not allow it. “I was always alone. It was not easy”, she says, and here the voice lets out her sadness.

Manel was born and she couldn’t even feel him on her chest, something that today any pregnant woman imagines she will feel, that she will be able to do. “They took him to neonatology. I only saw him 15 days after he was born”, but the fear that he might reach the positive world for covid-19 has not been confirmed. “They did two tests and it was always negative.”

Maria Lucena was well after the birth and was discharged almost immediately. “I felt great, I thought I was no longer positive, but I still was. I had the virus for over a month and they only let me see Manel when I was negative.” She went home, Manel stayed in the neonatology at MAC, where he says “he was treated very well”. It was worth it, as was “the nurses who were always with me. They had to change every four hours because of the protective suits. They were impeccable, if it weren’t for them it would have been even more difficult”, he says. More difficult because of the situation, the pandemic, the fact that I was unable to have visitors and because it was at the beginning. “There were a lot of doubts. Today I think it is different, although I think it is not good to be pregnant and have a baby in the middle of a pandemic.”

Maria and Francisco were not even able to enlist the help of their parents or friends to get used to the routine of being parents. “We were always alone, as if we were in a cocoon. We only went out when it was essential. Manel left after a week of being at home to go to the pediatrician, then he left again after two months, when he had already completed three, but as soon as the pediatrician said he could start going out, I started going around with him. ”

At that time, there was no anxiety, Maria was a mother and as she says, “I am a calm and peaceful person”. Today laughter jumps out when he pronounces the name of his first child: “Manel was a miracle in the year 2020.” When asked who he would be grateful for this year 2020, he says without hesitation: “Ao Manel”, for having fought too. “He looks great, he doesn’t even look like a premature baby. We try to live a very normal life within the restrictions and with all the care. Manel is at home, I already started working and we had to hire a lady to stay with him.”

Manel’s first Christmas was also not as they had imagined before. “The family cannot be all together, it was very different from what it used to be.” But 2020 ended and for 2021, Maria and her husband only wish that “Manel is well”. “I have hope for vaccines, but I don’t know if they are going to get everything resolved as quickly as we would like, but I hope that this pandemic has served to make people realize that we have to think more and more about the whole and not individually.”