We can’t even imagine how one deals with the timing and tragedy of this whole situation…
A Florida woman set to become a mother for the very first time earlier this month was told literally minutes before giving birth that her father — the baby’s grandfather — had died from COVID-19.
Kylie Dean (pictured above, right) was in the middle of going through labor in a Jacksonville, Florida hospital back on September 3, working through contractions and nearly finished with the birthing process for her son-to-be.
But as she was just about 20 minutes away from giving birth, sitting in her hospital bed at approximately 3:30 a.m., her doctor came in with awful news: her father, 40-year-old Shane O’Neal, was dying of COVID-19 in another Jacksonville-area hospital.
Speaking to USA Today this week, Dean recalled the horrible moment when she was informed of her dad’s turn for the worst just minutes before his first grandchild entered the world:
“ was like ‘I’m really sorry to tell you this right now, but your father just, despite all efforts, he’s basically not going to make it. I broke down and was literally sobbing. And my family and friends are standing at my window, watching me just literally break. That’s probably the best way to describe it. I felt broken.”
There are honestly no words.
Somehow, Dean — who herself is an ICU nurse in another local Jacksonville-area hospital — grappled with her crestfallen grief and still managed to deliver a happy, healthy baby boy named Preston about twenty minutes later, at 3:49 a.m. local time.
Also, not that it would bring her dad back, but why did the doctor told her the tragic news before she gave birth, and not after? Feels like that would’ve been better shared after going through labor, maybe? Just saying.
In the weeks prior to his death, O’Neal had been “super excited” about the coming arrival of his grandson, picking out a sizable collection of baby clothes and toys in preparation for the boy’s birth. Even after he initially tested positive for COVID back in August, and was admitted to a hospital in the north Florida city, he was still upbeat about getting better and seeing his grandson.
Dean told First Coast News:
“He had made sure to mention to every single nurse that took care of him before his intubation, and he said, ‘My daughter’s 37 weeks pregnant. My daughter’s 38 weeks pregnant. I’m gonna have my first grandbaby.’ He wanted everybody to know.”
According to Dean, her dad had set his vaccination for early August, and by chance tested positive for COVID-19 just days before he was scheduled to go in for the inoculation.
Although she told USA Today he had no known preexisting conditions, O’Neal nevertheless was hospitalized within a week, and eventually intubated. Tragically, the outlet reports that doctors wanted to put him on an ECMO machine — a device that takes over the function of the heart and the lungs to help a patient recover — but they were reportedly unable to find an available one to use “anywhere in the country” due to the high number of hospitalized COVID patients.
O’Neal’s search for an ECMO machine made headlines across the country when it happened in late August, as you can see from this News4Jax report from last month (below):
Sadly, the machine was never acquired, and O’Neal’s condition then steadily worsened in the weeks between his admission in August and his death early in the morning on September 3.
Dean, who said she’ll always remember her father as “super funny” and “a great dad,” explained while mourning this week how she can already see pieces of her father’s legacy in her young son:
“My dad would do the ‘I love you’ sign in sign language. And I’ve looked at Preston’s hands, just at random times, and he has that sign on his hands, like the ‘I love you sign.’ I don’t know if it’s coincidence, but it always brings me back to my dad when I see it.”
So sweet and so sad at the same time. We seriously admire this young mom’s strength.
We send all of our love to Dean and her family and loved ones, as they continue to grapple with this unbelievable swing of emotions, between her son’s birth and her father’s tragic death.
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