Sabrina Bryan and her husband Jordan Lundberg found out they were expecting their first child on NYE last year.
This year, their happy delivery quickly turned terrifying after their little girl was diagnosed with meningitis and hospitalized at two weeks old.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, 2020 is going to be the most incredible year. It’s the start of a new decade,’ ” Bryan, 36, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.
Although the ongoing coronavirus pandemic put the country into lockdown only months later, the mom-to-be was determined to make the best of the situation. But things took a turn when, at seven months pregnant, Bryan went to fill out her baby shower invitations and her vision suddenly blurred. “I was having a hard time focusing,” she recalls. “I thought it was symptoms of the pregnancy.”
The following day, when her symptoms worsened, Bryan was taken to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, a condition that causes temporary paralysis in the face. “My face wasn’t reflecting the feelings I had of being pregnant and loving what was going on with my body,” she says of experiencing a sense of depression following the diagnosis.
On Aug. 31, the couple welcomed daughter Comillia Monroe. But then only two weeks after her “perfect” birth, Bryan’s world was turned upside down.
“I went to pick her up and she was so hot,” Bryan recalls. “Her whole body was fire. I was like, ‘Something is wrong.’ We were out the door in two minutes.”
Monroe had spiked a 100.7 fever and after a series of tests at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, doctors confirmed she had contracted meningitis, an infection that causes inflammation around the brain and spinal cord membranes.
“They had to do a spinal tap,” says Bryan. “It was so hard to hear my baby, who was so tiny, go through all that.”
Adds Bryan, “I was like, ‘I cannot do this. I have been a mom for two weeks. This is not enough experience for me to know how to do this.’ “
Baby Monroe was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit where she spent 14 days fighting for her life as doctors warned Bryan and Lundberg that there could be permanent brain damage. “That was the scariest part,” she says. “You think of all the things she could miss out on by her brain being affected.”
Five days into her hospital stay, Monroe turned a corner and she was moved out of the PICU. On Sept. 29, doctors discharged her and sent Monroe home to finish her 21-day antibiotic treatment.
“We are so grateful because it could have been so much worse. We got a warrior princess,” says Bryan.
We’re happy the little one pulled through and is a happy & healthy baby!