Eric Robinson said he was a “lost soul” after his wife, Emily, died from COVID-19 three weeks after giving birth to their first child, a daughter named Carmen.
He told CNN that while his wife was pregnant, they would dream about their future and all the milestones along the way. He and Emily were a team who he thought could face any challenge ahead of them. But she got sick, and doctors performed an emergency C-section to save the baby. Emily died a few weeks later.
Now, he was a 23-year-old single father who felt overwhelmed and alone.
Ashlee Schwartz, a nurse at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas remembers Eric seated behind a glass partition as he watched his wife succumb to the virus. That image, she said, will never leave her. She could be on that side of the glass someday as her husband battled for his life. Would someone be there to help her?
“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?'” she told the network.
As his wife’s condition worsened week after week, Eric stood vigil outside of her room. Doctors were doing all they could for Emily. But Schwartz worried bout Eric. She wanted to help him. She asked if his wife had a baby registry for Carmen. He didn’t know. He had some clothes for her, but that was it. Robinson hadn’t had time to find anything else.
“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 said.
Nurse Asks for Help to ‘Pay it Forward’
Ashlee Schwartz created registries on Amazon, Target, and Babylist. And she posted a note on a private Facebook group for nurses to ask for help, CBS News reported. People, many of them strangers, bought everything on the list in a few days.
“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.”
She started a GoFundMe as well to help Eric Robinson with any other incidentals that may crop up. Her goal was $1,000. As of Monday, Oct. 25, people have pledged more than $24,000.
The life of an ICU nurse is a battlefield. Schwartz said it’s the little victories that help you through the tough moments. But this was something more — something life-affirming.
“Especially when you’re an ICU nurse, life can just become so depressing, the reality of this virus. When you walk through those doors, it’s just a whole different life,” she said. “But I tell you, this registry and just seeing these people come together for this little baby, it has just brought my life so much joy.”