JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Renae Byrd was excited to be a new mother.
In June, she and her husband shared with friends and family on Facebook they were having a baby boy.
But two weeks ago, months after sharing the news, Renae’s older brother Roderick got a call from his father saying that Renae was coughing up blood and that she was going to the hospital.
“They took her to the ER and they ended up inducing labor then,” said Roderick.
Husband Isaac Byrd Jr. told News4Jax Renae had an emergency cesarean section on Aug. 23 and they welcomed Isaac Boyd III into the world.
That same day, while in the hospital, Renae tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It was the last day she was awake, her brother said.
“The last time I talked to her was on Monday after she had Isaac,” said Roderick. “It was a really difficult conversation because she was gasping for air. She was crying.”
“I told her ‘Hey, you’re a mommy.’ She said, ‘I know.’ And, that was the last time we talked,” said Roderick.
On Sunday, Renae Byrd died from complications due to coronavirus. She was 32 years old.
“I’m heartbroken,” Byrd Jr. said. “I’m very crushed right now. She loved me like nobody ever loved me before.”
According to her brother, Renae had been extremely careful throughout her pregnancy. She was walking every day and had lost weight after doctors told her she had gestational diabetes. She didn’t leave the house often because she didn’t want to become infected.
Her husband said nobody knows exactly how she contracted the disease.
“She wore masks everywhere she went. She didn’t go out,” said Roderick. “She didn’t take any risk. She was very conscientious about being safe for the sake of her baby.”
In the hospital, Roderick says his younger sister had developed other complications from COVID-19. She had been diagnosed with pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome from the virus. Roderick said doctors tried promising treatments like Remdesivir and convalescent plasma.
“She said it hurt so much. Breathing was painful,” said Roderick.
Renae Byrd wasn’t just a new mother, but a brilliant writer and photographer, according to her brother. Byrd had been the editor-in-chief of the Jacksonville University magazine the Navigator before graduating early in 2010.
“Most important, she was just so loving,” Byrd Jr. said. “She could get the best out of anybody. She was ready to be a mom.”
Asked what he wants Renae’s son to know about her, Roderick says he wants him to know how much she loved and cared for him.
“I want her son to know that he had the best mom in the world and even though she’s not here to take care of him now, she did a great job taking care of him to get him here,” said Roderick. “She was funny. She was brilliant. He has a mother that can be very proud of. I want him to know her through us.”
Roderick said he hopes his sister’s death will remind people to be safer.
“She had a son that she didn’t get the chance to see,” said Roderick. “I want us to learn something from it and do better.”
Byrd Jr. said he will tell their son how his mother smiled and had a heart for people.
It’s particularly tragic for Byrd Jr., who told News4Jax that his second wife died more than three years ago.
She and Isaac met and bonded over previously losing their spouses.
He lost his wife in 2017 and she lost hers in 2016.