Katie and Kevin Montgomery, with sons Ben and newborn Keegan, are grateful for the care they received at Centenary Hospital during a stressful time for both patient and staff. Photo courtesy Montgomery family

Amid pandemic chaos, a new life emerges

  • June 27, 2020

Managing pregnancy in the midst of a global pandemic can add a lot of anxiety to what is often already an emotionally sensitive time for expecting parents. 

At 33 weeks pregnant around the time when the COVID-19 shutdowns began in March, Katie and Kevin Montgomery admit fear got the best of them at times when considering the safety of their family during their planned hospital birth.

The couple is grateful to the staff at Centenary Hospital in Scarborough, Ont., for their excellence and kindness in the delivery of their second child, particularly given that the weeks leading up to being admitted, they say, were nothing short of terrifying.

“There was lots of crying,” chuckled Katie, who gave birth to a healthy son on April 22. “Things were changing so quickly. Suddenly Kevin wasn’t allowed to come to my OB appointments. At our last ultrasound there was a lady crying at the door because it was her first baby and she wanted her husband to come in with her. It was crazy.”

With social distancing measures in place, concerns about the potential of having to deliver without Kevin in the room and who would look after their three-year-old son, Ben, weighed heavily on the couple.

A physical education and health teacher with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, Katie was distance teaching her elementary school students right up until the day of her delivery. Kevin, a physical therapist who works with the York University sports program, was streaming the school’s annual athletic banquet that had been moved online when Katie began experiencing some discomfort in her abdomen.

“I was trying not to disturb the banquet, but I thought I might be having contractions and they were really ramping up,” said Katie. “Near the end, I let Kevin know and he decided to take Ben to my parents place just in case. By the time he got back I said, ‘We need to go to the hospital now.’ ”

They left at around 8 p.m. and upon arrival went through Centenary’s COVID-19 screening process. Once cleared they headed to the maternity ward and were waiting for an epidural when they discovered they had even less time than expected.

“I was four centimetres dilated at the point when they admitted me,” said Katie. “They said the epidural was going to be about 45 minutes because they had to get my blood work. After they found the baby’s heartbeat on the machine and the nurse left the room, I said, ‘Kevin, I think I need to push.’ ”

Katie says she let out a scream as she pressed the red emergency button and the staff rushed back into the room. Baby Keegan was born at 9:58 p.m., less than 90 minutes after the couple arrived at the hospital.

The Montgomery’s say all the fear they endured leading up to being admitted to the hospital was appeased by the time they arrived. They are especially grateful for the nursing staff whose warmth and professionalism they say made them feel safe and taken care of throughout the entire experience, despite COVID-19.

“Although there was no breastfeeding class, the nurses were really good with helping with breastfeeding and getting the baby to latch,” said Katie. “Keegan’s blood sugar was a bit low, but we had an amazing nurse who explained everything and kept us calm. When we found out he was going to be OK, she got us a big bag of formula to take so we’d be good until my milk came in and his blood sugars were better. They were great.”

“I am delighted to hear about this family’s positive experience during this pandemic,” said Danielle Powell, manager of the women and children’s program at Centenary. “Having a baby is a magical time in a family’s life and we are so grateful that we are able to help create these happy memories and be a part of their journey.”

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