Milo McCabe never expected Zoom to play a role in the birth of his first child, but that's what happened for the Southern California man after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Thanks to the video conferencing platform, Milo was able to watch his wife Roxanne welcome their daughter, Emberly Anne, into the world on April 20 — despite the fact he was battling a "critical case" of the virus just a floor below them at Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center.
"It was emotional," Milo, 29, tells PEOPLE. "I cried for the first time in a very long time. I was scared and happy, and sad, and frustrated with myself. But it was definitely something that I had to look forward to on the other side of everything."
Just about a week before Roxanne, 24, went into labor, Milo tested positive for the virus and was admitted to the hospital with breathing difficulties.
"I felt like I was drowning," Milo recalls, noting that he eventually developed severe bilateral pneumonia. More than half of both of his lungs were filled with fluid and he required oxygen around the clock.
As Milo remained hospitalized and isolated from loved ones, the Covina couple came to the realization that it would be at least two weeks before he could return home or be around others — which meant he also would not be present for his daughter's birth.
"It's hard to express in words what that sinking feeling feels like. It's just terrible," Roxanne explains. "I was so scared of doing this all by myself. It was an emotional rollercoaster for sure."
Not wanting her husband to miss out on the moment, Roxanne started brainstorming how he could witness the birth from afar. They ultimately decided to use Zoom.
At 3 a.m. on April 20, after suffering two days of contractions, Roxanne knew it was time.
"I called my parents early in the morning, and I was like, 'I can't take these contractions anymore. You need to take me in, they're getting too close together,'" she recalls.
"No matter how young or healthy you are, don't think you're invincible," Milo adds. "You're going to get hit whether you think you are or not. It may not be you, but it could be one of your friends, it could be one of your loved ones."
As of Wednesday afternoon, there have been over 1.3 million cases and at least 83,282 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to the New York Times. In California, at least 71,553 cases and 2,938 deaths have been reported, according to the Times.
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