CINCINNATI — Tara Aylor hasn’t met her first grandchild yet, and she’s only spoken to her daughter through a one-way speakerphone since she gave birth on Sept. 5.
“Prayers please, this is breaking my heart my daughter has to go through all of this alone,” Aylor wrote on Facebook that day.
Her daughter Madelyn Zwick-Watson, 19, of Ludlow, had to deliver baby Jackson at just 33 weeks after being moved to the ICU for COVID pneumonia. She had been in the hospital only two days before doctors made the recommendation to deliver Jackson via cesarean section in order to put Zwick-Watson on a ventilator.
Nurses told Aylor that Jackson was born screaming, healthy and with a head full of blonde hair, just like her daughter’s.
“He is a fighter just like his momma!” Aylor said in a Facebook update. “Can’t wait for them to get a camera on him so we can watch him!”
Jackson was briefly placed on a ventilator but has since been taken off. He’s in the NICU at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, his mother four floors away and waiting to hold him for the first time.
“I can’t even begin to imagine what my daughter is going through right this moment,” Aylor said.
Aylor said her daughter had to be sedated because she was agitated, having panic attacks and pulling at the tubes on the ventilator. She said seeing a photo of Jackson seemed to make things harder for her.
“I told the nurse to let her know we have everything she could possibly need for the baby here or on the way,” Aylor said. “We’ve been spending hour after hour working on the room, organizing, putting all the stuff together and washing all the new baby clothes!”
Zwick-Watson delivered Jackson before she was able to have a baby shower. Her friends and family immediately sprang into action and called on the community in Facebook groups looking for preemie supplies.
“As soon as I let family and friends know they were going to deliver the baby, everyone went and bought everything Madelyn needs for Jackson,” Aylor said. “Her friends went out and bought an entire preemie wardrobe.”
Alyor said Jackson is doing great despite his early arrival, and she should be able to visit him for the first time with the baby’s father on Monday. She’s still waiting for the green light to see her daughter in person, who is still sedated on the ventilator.
“Madelyn has taken a few steps back,” Aylor wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. “They are going to put her on her stomach, start proning her. The doctor said they now have an ECMO on standby for her. If her condition worsens anymore she will have to go on this machine. This is not good.”
As of Friday, Zwick-Watson is not yet on ECMO, but Aylor said her condition has not improved either. It’s been 10 days since she was first diagnosed with COVID-19.
“Right now Madelyn is fighting for her life,” Aylor said. “COVID is so unpredictable. It’s taking down my healthy daughter when my husband and I felt like we had the flu.”
Aylor, her husband and their son all tested positive for COVID-19 in late August, prompting Madelyn to immediately get the first dose of her vaccine. Aylor said it was too late at that point because she already had the virus.
She said doctors told her they see this a lot: People getting vaccinated when COVID hits close to home, only to find out they test positive for the virus before the vaccine can take effect.
“Honestly, I didn’t plan on getting vaccinated. I wasn’t against it. I just wasn’t completely ‘sure’ of it at this time,” Aylor said. “Now I wholeheartedly say get the vaccination. I never want anyone to go through what I’m going through with my healthy 19-year-old daughter.”
Aylor is trying to focus on Zwick-Watson and baby Jackson coming home, including getting ahead of any expenses that might go along with their recovery by creating a GoFundMe page for her daughter and grandson.
“Get vaccinated,” Aylor said. “I only wish she’d gotten vaccinated sooner.”