Fort Smith, Ark. – Eric Robison, 23, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, lost his wife to COVID-19 and became a single father within a span of two months.
Robison’s wife, Emily, was only 22 when she died and was seven months into her pregnancy.
According to Eric, Emily was taken to the hospital on August 15 after testing positive for COVID-19. He was having trouble breathing and was experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Once she was admitted, Emily’s health declined rapidly.
Eric Robison sits with the donation he received for his newborn, Carmen. (Ashley Schwartz)
“She had problems but she was like a normal sick person,” Eric told Granthshala TV stations. “But she was a completely different person at 7:00 a.m.”
Eric Robison and his wife Emily. (Ashley Schwartz)
Eric called an ambulance for his wife at around 5.30 pm, she was taken to the hospital. Doctors put on a BiPAP mask to help Emily breathe better, but after three days of no significant improvement, doctors put Emily on a ventilator. Emily had a history of asthma but was, otherwise, a healthy young woman.
As Emily’s health continued to decline, doctors and Eric had to make a decision on what to do about their unborn daughter, Carmen. According to doctors, they could no longer detect Carmen’s heartbeat and needed to act fast, but her due date was not for two months.
“They called me and they said, ‘Eric, your wife has been falling for the last two and a half hours, Carmen has to come out immediately, but we don’t believe your wife will make it through C-section,’” Eric said. .
The doctors told Eric that they could help Emily through the surgery with medicine and get Carmen out – so they did.
Carmen was born on August 25 at 2 pounds, 9 ounces.
Baby Carmen. (Ashley Schwartz)
Once doctors were able to perform an emergency C-section, Emily’s health continued to decline drastically.
Eric said of his wife, “He made it amazingly, phenomenally, he didn’t use any of the drugs he said he needed.” “She went back to the ICU after the C-section and was good on oxygen after that.”
Eric was willing to bet that his wife was struggling enough to make sure their daughter had a safe delivery.
Tragically, Emily passed away on 20 September. “At 11:46 p.m.,” said Eric. The couple would have been married for four years this month.
Eric said neither he nor his wife had been vaccinated against COVID-19, but he and his daughter plan to get one soon after the experience. “Now, that’s a different story entirely. Now, I take it more seriously. I’m going to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as soon as possible. There’s no question about it,” Eric said.
Eric Robison and daughter, Carmen. (Ashley Schwartz)
Eric suddenly became a single father and had no time to prepare for his newborn as she arrived two months earlier. Carmen is their first child.
That’s where Ashley Schwartz, an ICU nurse at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas, came into the picture.
Unbeknownst to Eric, Schwartz had noticed the young family as he examines COVID-19 patients, as do many health care workers amid the pandemic, and saw a 22-year-old in the ICU.
“I always wake up in the morning and see COVID patients and I saw we had a 22-year-old, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Schwartz said.
She was shocked to see such a young, pregnant mother in the ICU because of COVID-19, and while giving water to another of her patients, Schwartz saw Eric sitting in a chair as he watched Emily on a ventilator.
Eric Robison and wife, Emily. (Ashley Schwartz)
“I remember that if Emily was going to be able to overcome COVID, most likely, Carmen would be at home before Emily. Emily was going to be in the ICU for a few months and then going to intensive rehab And after that I could only see that she was coming home and walking into her house and she had nothing for her new baby,” Schwartz said.
So she decided that she wanted to help the young family.
Schwartz said the hospital’s nurses were part of a private Facebook group and asked a question in the forum if anyone would like to help donate some of the essentials for Eric and Emily. Many said yes.
“All I could see was walk through that door and say, ‘Why didn’t anyone help me?’” Schwartz said. “His story could very well be our own story. I hope that if I were in Emily’s shoes or my husband was in Eric’s position, someone would take him under his wing and help.”
Schwartz approached Eric and asked him if he had a baby registry they could take over and start donating, but since Eric was a first time father, he had no idea what a baby registry was, Nor was he contemplating a life after his wife. Passing.
Donations made to Eric and Carmen. (Ashley Schwartz)
“So I just asked him, what have you got so far? He only had clothes on,” Schwartz said. “After talking for a bit, I asked him if he’d mind if I started a baby registry for him. I told him, ‘I can’t promise you I’ll get everything you need, but I I’ll do my best to get it. Necessary things to take home with you and Carmen.’”
Donations slowly began to arrive and a GoFundMe founded by Schwartz began to gain some attention, but it wasn’t until Eric’s story became national news that things started to fly.
“It just escalated,” said Eric. “At first it was a little slow, I didn’t really care about it coming soon, as long as I get some help, I’m grateful, then suddenly, maybe less than a week later, it just escalated, this package After the package was there, it was just so much love and support from everyone.”
According to Eric, GoFundMe raised over $12,000, even though the goal was just $1,000, and he was getting all kinds of donations to fill Carmen’s nursery.
“I didn’t expect it, I honestly expected some gifts, $50 dollars, that’s all, but it’s gotten to a point that I’m forever grateful, I’m forever grateful, I Just blowing away, mostly, I’m almost bittersweet,’ Eric said.
Eric and Ashley. (Ashley Schwartz)
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Schwartz and Eric have become like family after dealing with a tragedy together.
“I was so worried about my life, I knew for a fact that Carmen would be safe as long as she made it out of the womb, once she made it out and she was good, but I Didn’t really think about what would happen after that when Ashley came up to me and said that, I felt relieved because I didn’t really think about it,” Eric said.
“Ashley will be in Carmen’s life until she grows up and Ashley’s son and my daughter will probably be best friends,” Eric said.
Schwartz and her husband have two adopted sons.
“I was doing a simple act of paying life, in a million years I never thought it would go ahead,” Schwartz said. “I’m so overwhelmed and in awe, I was in so much tears all day yesterday. You’re just so grateful that her story is shared and there’s more help on the way for Carmen and Eric. I’m blessed to have other people.” It’s nice to see, it makes my heart so happy, I’m overwhelmed with joy. If you can give life to people it brings a lot of joy to your life, sometimes those acts of kindness people will never forget , and even the simplest acts of kindness, I just can’t get over it.”
Carmen Robison. (Ashley Schwartz)
Schwartz and Eric have every intention of creating a lasting legacy for Emily so that Carmen can have wonderful memories of her mother.
“Whenever she is able to understand and understand or understand this whole situation, I will tell her who her mother was,” Eric said. “I decided to start a scrapbook, I have lots of pictures of her mom, her pregnant and everything, so, obviously I’m going to tell her about her mom and how amazing she is.” Although you lost your mother, there are thousands of people who made sure you can be successful in life.”
In another attempt to create beautiful memories for Carmen, Schwartz was able to obtain a handprint drawn by Emily and would eventually have Carmen’s handprint next to her to make a gift for the family.
“I was able to get his handprint and use this wonderful Etsy shop to put it together,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said that Eric and Carmen still need some necessities like diapers and hopes that Carmen’s entire nursery will be filled before the baby comes home.
Carmen is now 5 pounds, 6 ounces and is still dealing with some digestive issues, but she’s going strong during her time in the NICU.