"I was like hey girl, I'm going to take care of you, I love you. Don't be afraid, everything is going to be ok," Donna Molina said.
Everything is better than okay, on the first birthday for Harley. But her little life didn't start out that way.
"She's my only girl, I've got three sons," Molina said while in tears. "You're here one day and you could be gone the next."
Last year, Molina became infected with COVID when she was pregnant with Harley, delivering her two months prematurely.
The 33-year-old mother was in an induced coma for 11 days and had to be separated from her newborn for almost 40 days, just to be sure there was no threat of the virus.
"They did test her antibodies; she didn't have any, she didn't contract the virus so, because of all of those uncertainties, we had to be extra careful, like not letting anyone in the house at all," Molina said.
But coronavirus wasn't Molina's only concern.
"Because I wasn't able to nurture her, to breastfeed her, to really bond with her, to do the skin to skin with her... so all of those things were some of my fears," she said.
But those fears pretty much instantly disappeared.
"She knew who I was and I knew who she was and she smelled like my baby and she just fell asleep right on my chest and slept sound asleep the whole night and it was such an easy transition," Molina said.
But Molina was not the only mother celebrating on Friday.
Long Island mom Yanira Soriano has an incredibly similar story to Molina.
Soriano survived COVID after giving birth to a baby boy and celebrated his first birthday on Friday.
It was a joyous occasion for Yanira Soriano, her entire family and South Shore University Hospital employees on Friday, as they celebrated baby Walter's first birthday, Paw Patrol-style.
Last spring, after spending 11 days on a ventilator fighting COVID, Soriano of Brentwood, held her baby for the first time at SSUH.
The heartwarming reunion was met with applause as hospital staff clapped and cheered.
"A year ago, I was so sick, I didn't even know I had baby Walter," Soriano said. "I am so thankful and grateful to the team at South Shore University hospital for bringing me back to life so I could be here to celebrate my baby's birthday today."
Soriano was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia from COVID on April 2, 2020, and immediately placed on a ventilator.
Soriano, who was 34-weeks pregnant, gave birth to Walter the very next day on April 3 following an emergency C-section.
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