Maria Garza spent much of her pregnancy in the ICU of a Texas hospital with her husband Jason, who died of Covid-19 in May when she was seven months pregnant.
She gave birth to their son last month at another facility in the same Austin-area hospital system. It was a different building but she was surrounded by the same familiar uniforms, hospital gowns and beeping machines that reminded her of the last moments of her husband’s life.
“It was difficult. I tried to focus on the reason that I was there, which was to welcome my son, but I could not ignore the similarities,” Garza told CNN’s “New Day.” “So even though I tried to stay positive and enjoy the moment of bringing my son in the world, it was bittersweet because it brought back so many memories of Jason in the ICU.”
Garza told CNN that she had had a mild case of Covid-19 last year, so when Jason, 36, tested positive in February, she assumed he would be OK, too. She said he had no co-morbidities and was “as healthy as a horse.”
“We were blindsided. About a week after he tested positive, I had to take him to the hospital because he couldn’t take two steps from the restroom to the room without being so out of breath,” Garza said. “It was unbelievable how quickly he deteriorated … just unbelievable.”
Garza said Jason got sick before the Covid-19 vaccines were available, so he never got a chance to get the shot.
He was in a coma and on a ventilator, but Garza said she was able to be at his side once doctors determined he was not contagious.
She said Jason loved music and that they’d met when he was playing in a band with her brother.
Garza played Rush, Black Sabbath and his other favorite bands at his bedside, along with videos of their 3-year-old daughter, Isabella.
“I think that us playing music for him sort of, I hope, settled him down a bit if he could hear us,” she said.
On May 4, “Jason passed peacefully listening to his favorite songs,” she wrote in a GoFundMe post.
Garza delivered their son on July 19 and named him Jason Thomas Garza after his father and grandfather. He weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces, and she’s calling him J.T.
She said she wants Isabella and J.T. to know that Jason was the greatest daddy in the world and described him as a big, loving teddy bear.
“Jason was the happiest person ever. It was his mission to make people laugh and have a good time, and if anybody was having a bad day, he would try his hardest to turn it around for them.”
As for Garza, she got vaccinated while she was pregnant while her husband was in the ICU.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that pregnant and breastfeeding women can get the vaccine.
“Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people,” the CDC says on its website.
Garza urged people who are nervous about the vaccine to get the shot, so they don’t have to go through what she’s experiencing.
“We have to protect not only ourselves, but kids that can’t get vaccinated and our communities. The vaccine is the way to do that,” she said. “I would still have my husband, and my kids would still have their father if we had been able to get the vaccine before he got sick.”
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