At seven months pregnant, Kntrice Anadumaka did not expect to be battling COVID-19 in an ICU bed, wearing an oxygen mask and fighting for her life and the life of her baby.
"I would wake up gasping for air and experiencing that night after night," she told CBS News. "And I would sit and count my breaths because I didn't know if I would survive the night."
Anadumaka was unvaccinated.
"To be honest, this part gets me a little emotional. I felt irresponsible because I had put me and my baby at risk," she said of her decision to skip the vaccine.
Since COVID vaccines became available, few groups have been as resistant to getting the shots as pregnant women. Fears over fertility and fetal safety have persisted even though a growing body of medical evidence shows the vaccines areand have .
A recent study from Scotland found that more than 90% of pregnant people hospitalized with COVID were unvaccinated — and they facedlike premature birth, stillbirth or neonatal death soon after delivery.
Other new data shows pregnant women who are vaccinated pass protective antibodies to their fetus regardless of the trimester in which they got the shots.
Dr. Emily Miller, the chief of obstetrics at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, said the virus destroyed a large portion of Anadumaka's lungs.
"I will never forget the look of complete fear in her eyes," Miller told CBS News.
Miller has treated some unvaccinated pregnant patients with COVID who have experienced placental inflammation, which, she said, can be linked to pre-eclampsia, lower fetal growth, preterm birth and stillbirth.
"These are ultimately the clinical outcomes that are — we think there's an increased risk of in the setting of SARS-CoV-2 infection," Miller said.
During her eight-week stay in the hospital, Anadumaka did get vaccinated and gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
"Oh my God, what goes through my mind is I am so incredibly grateful," she said. "I'm so glad that I actually get to be here to mother him and love on him and raise him. And I'm just honored that we made it."