and Gynecology, Mary Beth’s obstetrical group, says she and her colleagues
urge expectant parents to take all steps possible to avoid contracting COVID
because of the risks to moms and babies. This includes getting vaccinated.
There was no vaccine available in 2020, so for the Whitacres, the pandemic
rewrote some pregnancy plans. Dan couldn’t accompany Mary Beth
to medical appointments. Their parents, who live nearby, couldn’t stop by for
coffee or dinner. Mary Beth’s baby showers took place outdoors. And she had
to take a COVID test a week before her September due date. It was negative.
“It wasn’t clear what would happen if I had COVID when the baby was born,”
she says. “It was possible I would have to isolate away from the baby at first.
Fortunately, that did not happen.”
Dan was with Mary Beth before, during and after Eloise’s birth at Winchester
Medical Center. “I could have one person with me,” Mary Beth
says. The new family’s first moments together at the hospital felt happy and
normal. “Those nurses were absolutely incredible,” Dan says. “Honestly, in
the hospital we kind of forgot about COVID because the care was that good.”
The couple’s parents quarantined for two weeks, at Mary Beth’s request, so
that they could safely meet and hold their new granddaughter.
This was a wise decision. “More than 90 percent of neonatal COVID infections
come from family members,” notes Dr. Kidd.
After her maternity leave ended, Mary Beth continued working from
home and found herself assisting with community vaccination efforts. “I was
on the phone and computer for 12 hours some days, helping people register
for appointments,” she says. “Dan and I received the vaccine, too. And Eloise
had some protection for as long as she was nursing.”
Mary Beth is expecting the couple’s second child this summer. To stay
safe, they track COVID case numbers at Valley Health and carefully weigh
the risks and benefits of outings. “This time around it’s different,” Dan says.
“The Omicron variant is highly contagious, but people are out everywhere.
We might decline an invitation to an indoor dinner with a lot of people.”
Dr. Kidd agrees that expectant parents should continue to be cautious—
and get vaccinated. “Please trust my scientific expertise: There is an increased
risk of complications if the mother gets COVID. We are still learning, and
there’s lots we don’t understand yet. But vaccination is our best defense
against the virus, and it’s one of the safest vaccines we’ve seen in decades.”
Despite the new challenges associated with pregnancy in the times of
COVID, Mary Beth and Dan are looking forward to the birth of Eloise’s baby
sister at WMC. “The care was so good the first time, in difficult circumstances,
that we’re excited to go back,” says Dan.
S U M M E R 2 0 2 2 1 1
Mary Beth and Dan Whitacre with their baby, Eloise,
who was born during the pandemic.