EDINBURG — As the Rio Grande Valley community grappled with its new isolated and anxiety-ridden reality brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Laura Chaffin worried how all of this was going to impact her nurturing a newborn child.

Rowan, who was born March 31, is the newest addition to the Chaffin family of five.

“It’s a scary time,” Laura Chaffin said. “I went on maternity leave around the time that everything started happening. I was just really unsure. Everybody was really unsure. Like, we don’t know how it’s transmitted. We don’t know what proper precautions we’re supposed to be taking. Then I heard that our PPE, our personal protective equipment regulations in the hospital were changing about that.”

Chaffin has three years of experience working as a nurse. She spent her first two years at Edinburg Regional Medical Center and now works in the intensive care unit at McAllen Medical Center.

Her husband, Daniel, works in the emergency room at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg. Together they are raising their 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, along with their newborn daughter.

If the challenges of raising a newborn were not enough, they must also face the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At first, I was anxious. I really just wanted to have her already because I was unsure about how the policies were going to be changing at the hospital,” Chaffin said.

The mother of three described the experience as something she’s never encountered before — from the screening station outside the hospital that checks the temperature of everyone entering, to the lack of visitors allowed inside the delivery room.

“ It’s scary because you’re going through the ER and everyone is wearing their masks,” Chaffin recalled. “I really felt that I just wanted to get it done. I didn’t want to put myself at risk and I didn’t want to put my family at risk, especially my newborn who has no defenses right now. It was lonely in the hospital.”

Chaffin said that she was excited to have her newborn, but also sad because she was not able to share her excitement with others as she had in the past.

 

Laura Chaffin cradles her 5-week-old baby girl, Rowan, on Friday in McAllen. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)

“We actually have to separate him from our family because we didn’t want to take the risk that he could get me sick. We didn’t know what was going to happen at that time,” Chaffin said. “It was also different delivering in the hospital because this is my third child. Usually I have my mom there, my sister there, but we couldn’t do that anymore. It was just my husband.”

The Chaffin family is continuing to take precautions when it comes to keeping the health and safety of their children. They continue to practice social distancing, which has prevented Chaffin’s mother from meeting her new granddaughter.

“We don’t want to risk it,” Chaffin said. “In my culture, being Hispanic, family is really important. Being able to share this … I was really excited. To not have my mom, my dad, my step-mom, step-sisters, everybody was so excited to meet her. To just come home and not being able to share the birth with my family has been really hard. It’s been sad.”

The experience as a whole has been challenging for Chaffin and her husband, but she is also able to see the silver lining.

“She kind of saved me a little bit from possibly getting exposed,” Chaffin said. “I went on maternity leave right when everything started happening, so I’m actually kind of grateful for my pregnancy even though right now raising a newborn … it’s tough. It’s challenging. They say that it takes a village, but unfortunately, I don’t have my village right now.”