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DC couple wins battle against coronavirus while welcoming a new baby

Both Alanna McKee and her husband Ben contracted COVID-19 in March. Together, they figured out how to raise a four-month-old while beating the virus.

WASHINGTON — Soon after the coronavirus hit the DMV, D.C. couple Alanna and Ben McKee both tested positive. Their biggest concern -- their new baby, Julien.

Alanna said she first started noticing symptoms on March 17. 

"I felt really sick, but I didn’t have the classic symptoms of COVID-19," she said. "I did have a fever, body aches, chills, so more like the flu. I also had nausea, but I wasn’t coughing. I didn’t have chest pain. I didn’t have shortness of breath, so I didn’t actually think I had COVID-19.”

Alanna said when she woke up the next day, she still wasn't feeling well and called her doctor, who told her to get tested.

"It was a scary process to go into that tent," she said. "Everyone was covered from head to toe in gear, so it felt like I was in Outbreak or in one of those scary movies…Then I woke up Thursday and felt completely fine. I thought I was 100% better, so I thought for sure I didn’t have it. I learned later that was kind of the course of the virus.”

Soon after, her husband Ben woke up with symptoms.

"My husband's symptoms were totally different than mine were," Alanna said. "He had the classic cough, shortness of breath. He had a fever as well, and he lost his sense of taste."

In contrast, Alanna said she had cold-like symptoms, migraines, fatigue, and lost her sense of smell.

Credit: Alanna McKee
Alanna McKee poses with her husband, Ben, and baby, Julien.

"The fact that it changed so quickly, and there were days in there where we felt totally fine, just mentally made it a little more difficult to get a handle of it," Alanna said.

Then, the couple had to figure out how to safely care for a four-month-old. 

“[It was] all hands on deck," she said. "So it was really whoever was feeling better at the time would take him, you know, not ideal…because obviously we couldn’t bring anyone into our home to help us.”

Pediatrician Dr. Ashley Moss, with Spring Valley Pediatrics, said the McKee's is a particularly difficult situation, but it's important to be as hygienic as possible around the baby.

“It’s just so important to protect the baby and if possible, when caring for the baby, they have clothes that are clean every time when they walk into care, or they do their best to cover their clothing and obviously wearing their face mask and good hand-washing every single time," Dr. Moss said.

Dr. Moss said when it comes to breastfeeding, it could actually be helpful.

"We don’t have any data to suggest the virus is transmitted via breast milk, so currently as long as it’s safe to do so from the mother, breastfeeding potentially may have some benefits to transmitting any possible protective antibodies," she said.

Credit: Alanna McKee
Alanna, Ben, and Julien McKee take a trip outside in DC.

Dr. Moss said her practice has also stressed how important continuing vaccinations for children is during the pandemic to make sure they don't contract any other diseases.

Thankfully, Alanna said Julien didn't end up contracting the coronavirus.

She said it was a rough couple of weeks, but they made it through and have both been cleared. Alanna took her biggest sigh of relief when she regained her sense of smell.

"Getting that back was very exciting, particularly as we love wine, and wine is just not as good without your sense of smell," she said. "On the flip side, I couldn’t smell poopy diapers, which was nice, but I was happy to have it back regardless.”

Now that Alanna and her husband have recovered, she has some advice for others who find themselves in a similar situation: “I’d say remember the data that most of us who get it will be OK. It is scary. Take it day by day. Be patient with yourself and with the disease."

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Credit: Alanna McKee
Baby picture of Julien McKee, courtesy of Alanna McKee.

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