While many hunkered down during quarantine, English teacher Mrs. Jennifer Estevez accomplished something much more significant than finishing her Netflix binge list. Giving birth to daughter Elaina March 14, Mrs. Estevez’s experience invoked a range of emotions.
In 2017, Mrs. Estevez enlisted the school’s help in raising awareness for Project Alive to fund a clinical trial for Hunter Syndrome, a cognitive disease her son Sebastian suffers from. Although Project Alive met its fundraising goal to fund a clinical trial, Sebastian still has a weakened immune system, prompting a pregnant Mrs. Estevez to quarantine March 6, a week before the school closed.
“I didn’t want to take any chances of any of us contracting this new virus. Because respiratory complications are common in boys with Hunter Syndrome, we are still very worried about how the virus might impact him,” Mrs. Estevez said. “This extra week gave me time to order anything we needed to stay home and safe during quarantine.”
Mrs. Estevez gave birth to Eliana at Memorial Hospital Miramar. “It was definitely a bit scary. The hospital had implemented new protocols to try to keep patients safe, but I was still worried about contracting COVID-19 while we were in the hospital,” Mrs. Estevez said.
With the virus a rampant concern, especially in hospitals and among families with an immunocompromised member, Mrs. Estevez’s birth experience varied from her first one with Sebastian.
“Because of the virus, no visitors except for my husband were allowed at the hospital. My mom was supposed to fly in from California, but she decided it would be best for her to avoid travel for her safety and ours,” Mrs. Estevez said. “That was definitely a difficult decision to make. My mom and I were both devastated that she wouldn’t be able to be present for the birth. It’s definitely not the way I pictured things.”
Despite the looming virus, giving birth to Eliana also brought light moments. Mrs. Estevez considers the meal before the birth the funniest part of the ordeal.
“My husband and I ate out of vending machines for dinner the night Eliana was born. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink from 7 a.m. until I gave birth. The cafeteria closed at 8 p.m., and the only way out or into the hospital was through the emergency room. I didn’t want my husband to walk through the ER and risk exposure, so we enjoyed a feast of chips and trail mix,” she said.
When it came time to name her baby girl, Mrs. Estevez found her inspiration from her husband and mother. “My husband, Mario, had been mentioning the name for a few weeks, but I didn’t really like it that much. But he kept saying that he loved it. Then, one morning, my mom texted me and told me that she’d had a dream that we named the baby Eliana. She had never spoken to Mario about the name, so it felt like the universe was sending me a sign that the baby’s name was meant to be Eliana,” Mrs. Estevez said. “The name means ‘God has answered,’ which is beautiful.”