For Stephanie Collado, being pregnant with twins at the height of a global pandemic seemed terrifying. To add to her worry, she developed strange symptoms: A rash appeared on her face, and her joints and hands swelled up.
Watch Stephanie’s story
Collado and her husband, Gary Singh, were both born at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, so they were familiar with the hospital’s high standard of care. When her doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong, she turned to Elmhurst.
At Elmhurst, Collado was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune condition she may have had for years without knowing. Pregnancy can trigger a flare-up. She began seeing a rheumatologist at Elmhurst who prescribed medications to keep her symptoms in check. She then moved her prenatal care to the hospital as well.
However, another complication soon emerged.
On May 1, 2020 – only 31 weeks into her pregnancy – Collado experienced a cord prolapse, which occurs when the umbilical cord drops through the open cervix into the vagina before a baby moves into the birth canal.
“It became an emergency to deliver Stephanie immediately,” said Dr. Carla Sioux Rogers-Henry, Assistant Chief of Ambulatory Women’s Health Services at Elmhurst.
Collado’s labor and delivery unfolded at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, with Elmhurst, Queens being the epicenter of the crisis. As she arrived at the hospital, she recalled seeing people lined up wearing face masks waiting to be tested for the virus.
Due to the emergency, she was placed under general anesthesia and was forced to deliver alone. Because of COVID-19 safety protocols, her husband was not allowed to be by her side. On May 4, two twin girls – Aaliyah and Gia – entered the world.
“I woke up, and the health care workers said, ‘Your babies are here!'” she remembered. “They’re one floor above us, they’re fine and they’re perfectly healthy. I could only see them the first three days. Protocols would not allow me to hold my own children, but they would bring my little babies up to the door. I would see them for 15 seconds, and it meant the world to me.”
Because they were delivered prematurely, Aaliyah and Gia stayed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a full month until they each weighed 5 pounds. Collado was discharged after a few days, yet photos from the family’s social worker and video chats with nurses helped keep the new mom and dad informed about their daughters’ progress.
“I would like to thank the doctors and nurses at Elmhurst for giving me two beautiful children and taking care of my wife in her time of need,” said Singh.
With both parents and twins having been born at the hospital, the family will always remain part of the Elmhurst community. Their twins just celebrated their first birthdays, and they’re as happy and healthy as ever.
“In such a dark time, I was warranted a healthy family,” said Collado. “I’m so grateful that I met all those health care workers.
“Everything happens for a reason, I believe. This must be a metaphor for something – life is full circle. You go back where you came from. It’s a silver lining.”