A new father whose wife died of COVID-19, leaving behind their newborn baby who she never met, has been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers – thanks to a baby registry set up by their nurse.
Eric Robison’s wife Emily, 22, died on September 20.
She was unvaccinated, fearing that the vaccine could affect their unborn child, and had battled COVID-19 for over a month.
Eric also contracted COVID but, unlike his wife, quickly recovered.
Their daughter, Carmen, was born by emergency caesarian on August 25, two months premature and weighing two pounds, nine ounces.
Eric Robison is pictured with his wife Emily, who died on September 20 aged 22. Their daughter, Carmen, was born by emergency caesarean on August 25 but by that point Emily was unconscious and never recovered
Ashlee Schwartz, an ICU nurse, said that seeing Robison’s predicament broke her heart
Ashlee Schwartz, an ICU nurse at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas, said she was heartbroken to see Eric in the hospital, with his wife intubated, fighting for her life, and a newborn baby.
‘The image will forever be inscribed in my head,’ she told CNN.
‘He was just staring in a daze. It literally broke my heart to pieces.
Ashlee Schwartz is pictured with her own family
‘Especially as an ICU nurse, the reality of life with this virus is any patient’s story could very well be our own story someday and I just thought to myself ‘What if this was me sitting in this chair staring into my husband’s room?”
Schwartz said she wanted to help the devastated new father.
‘I called Eric and asked if he and Emily had a baby registry and he didn’t know what a registry was,’ she said.
‘He said all they had for Carmen were clothes. As Emily was fighting for her life, I just felt called and a sense of responsibility to make sure this baby had everything she needed.
‘All I could picture was Emily coming home after being in the hospital for months and not having much of anything for Carmen and asking herself ‘Why did someone not help me?”
Schwartz took it upon herself to draw up a gift registry, with links for baby essentials at Amazon and Target.
She posted the links on her Facebook page, and also set up a GoFundMe site.
‘Never would I have imagined that gifts would start pouring in from all over Arkansas and the rest of the country,’ Robison said.
‘It’s bittersweet, because I wish Emily was still alive to see it. But not having to worry about Carmen being taken care of is one less thing I have to worry about right now.’
The GoFundMe has so far raised $17,500, and over 200 people contributed in gifts, buying items ranging from diapers, rompers and bibs to books, a car seat and crib.
Schwartz shared her appeal on Facebook, asking for the local community to help the new father
Schwartz made a handprint of Emily’s hands, as a gift for Carmen. The baby’s handprint will be added on top of her mother’s
The little girl is due to be discharged from the hospital on Monday, after two months in the neonatal ward.
Schwartz has made a framed handprint of Emily, for Carmen to add her handprint.
‘She will forever have a keepsake of her mama,’ Schwartz said.
Robison said he has been overwhelmed by the support.
‘I’m so grateful for everyone who has helped, even those who have messaged me saying they can’t give me money but will pray for me. That’s perfect enough for me,’ Robison said.
‘I know Emily is watching right now crying with happiness. She always wanted to be a mom.’
Robison is now urging all people to get vaccinated – especially pregnant women.
Expectant mothers who develop COVID-19 symptoms risk emergency complications and other problems with their pregnancies, according to two new studies.
But despite the risks, pregnant women remain some of the most vaccine-hesitant populations in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC states on their website: ‘Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing.
‘These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.
‘There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.’
Robison is pictured with Schwartz, who took it upon herself to rally the community to support the Robison family
Robison states on the GoFundMe page: ‘Vaccinated or not, please take COVID seriously. Had we, Emily would still be here.’
This weekend would have marked the couple’s four-year anniversary and three years since they were married.
They met on Facebook, and within a month moved in together, marrying in October 2018.
‘She was like the female Jim Carrey,’ he told CNN.
‘She was extremely goofy, extremely cute.
‘Wherever I was with her, I was at home. It’s how I always felt with her, even when we were hitting rock bottom.’
Their daughter Carmen was born on August 25, and is due to go home on Monday after two months in the neonatal ward
He said that he has recurring nightmares of the moment he lost her.
‘That sound of the heart monitor as they’re pushing on her, trying to bring her back, that sound plays in my nightmare every single night since,’ he said.
‘I had to be in COVID gear to see her after she died because she had been so sick, but it blocked me from kissing her. I didn’t care. The moment they closed the curtains, I ripped off the face mask and kissed her. I told her I loved her and that I’m sorry I didn’t try harder.’
He told CNN that, after his wife’s death, he ‘was just a lost soul’.
He added: ‘It’s a different pain than anything I’ve felt in my life, sitting there looking at my wife, dead on a bed, holding her hand and watching the color roll out of her face.
‘Get vaccinated. It’s very serious. She would still be here if we took it serious.’