‘This precious little human gave me my strength back’

09 May 2021 - 00:00 By nivashni nair
Dellisa Moodley with Atreus, now four months old.
Dellisa Moodley with Atreus, now four months old.
Image: Supplied

On the day four months ago that Dellisa Moodley became a mother, giving birth to a son, Atreus, in a Durban hospital, she also tested positive for Covid-19.

Eight days later she was on a ventilator fighting for her life.

A month later, after recovering from temporary paralysis, she was finally discharged — and feels especially lucky to be celebrating Mother’s Day today.

Moodley’s ordeal began on January 15 when she was admitted to Chatsmed Hospital with labour pains.

She was discharged from hospital after the birth but her condition deteriorated and on her first wedding anniversary, January 26, the first-time mother was separated from her baby and placed on a ventilator.

Moodley doesn’t recall much from that time but she does remember the fear and worry she felt about her newborn.

She later learnt that her husband Adrien had played her voicenotes of the baby’s babbling and cooing to try to keep her spirits up.

“One day he played a voice note of the baby crying, and it affected me in a negative way,” Moodley said.

1 Month - The length of time that Dellisa Moodley spent on a ventilator 

Her heart started racing, so the doctor warned Adrien against playing recordings of the baby crying again.

“I was fully unconscious but I think I could sense that my baby needed me,” Moodley said.

While she was in hospital, her father died of Covid-related causes.

She was discharged on February 22.

“When I did get off the ventilator, all I wanted to do was get home to my baby boy. But how was I to care for him when I was unable physically to take care of myself?

“While being in that bed I would cry. I would be angry as so much had happened. I would lie there and keep trying to move myself. I would look at my baby’s picture and he was my motivation, my strength and my power.

“When I got home, seeing this precious little human inspired me and gave me my strength back. Now I am able to care for him and give him all the love he needs,” Moodley said.

For Maureen Hunter, 76, who hasn’t seen her two daughters and grandchildren in about three years, Covid put a spoke in the wheel of hopes for a reunion.

76 - The age of Maureen Hunter, who though she'd never see her children again due to covid-19.

She and her husband contracted the disease in November last year,  and started worrying that they would  never see their children, who live in the US and the UK, again.

However, their symptoms were mild and they quickly recovered. Now their “bags are packed and ready to go” once the pandemic is under control.

“I know I will see them again,” Hunter said.

“We just have to be patient. Of course, my heart will ache a little on Mother’s Day but technology is amazing so we are always in contact via WhatsApp. I know they will make it special even if it is with technology.”

Tarryn Coltman, who lives in Pretoria, says she is feeling “OK” about the first Mother’s Day without her mother, Patty, who died of Covid complications in July last year.

“Since my mom’s passing it has been very difficult to adjust to a new reality and different ways of doing things,” she said.

“It has been hard going through so many big milestones like Christmas and birthdays, as well as achieving goals that we used to dream of together, and just simply having a best friend — someone to talk to.

“On Mother’s Day, my family and I will be making a nice meal and just celebrating my mother’s life and puting some fresh flowers on her grave,” she said.

Durban clinical psychologist Nazia Osman said Mother’s Day would be painful for the thousands of people who had lost their mothers due to Covid.

“Covid-19 and the method of transmission already created complex feelings,” she said.

 This was because during the height of the pandemic people felt they should not visit their mothers in person, to avoid infection. 

“Even the funeral arrangements and family support would be restricted, making it more challenging to overcome grief than if it were normal times,” Osman said.


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