When I tested positive for the Zika virus in 2017, I was four months pregnant. What little information was available from my obstetrician was not good. If the baby was infected, her brain might never develop. She might have a terrible heart defect. The statistics were ugly. I had no idea what to think or do. I felt frantic and alone.
When I heard about the Congenital Zika Program at Children’s National Hospital, I called and left a message begging for help.
Lindsey Pesacreta, the Zika Program nurse practitioner called the next morning. She understood the urgency. She helped me with the details of referrals and travel from our home in Texas. Within a week, the same nurse practitioner greeted us in person at Children’s National. She held my hand through each appointment.
A panel of doctors, including infectious disease specialist Dr. Roberta DeBiasi, reviewed sonogram images of my baby in real time for what seemed like hours. They had great news: She was small, but developing properly. I’ll never forget the moment that Dr. Sarah Mulkey, the fetal neurologist, said my baby had “beautiful brain tissue.”
We returned to Texas with tremendous amount of relief, a wealth of information and a powerful team behind us. A few months later, Nayeli was born. Her name means “I love you” in the language spoken by the Zapotec Indians of Mexico. She has been back to visit her team at Children’s National three times. She’s two years old and can already count to 10.
Before we came to Children’s National, we cried a lot of tears. Now, no matter what the future holds for Nayeli’s health, I know her team won’t quit on us.
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