"It was like I was either on baby duty or I was napping. I didn’t have time to talk to anyone," Casey Goode tells PEOPLE of being in isolation with her son Max while he was being treated for COVID-19

By Gabrielle Chung
October 19, 2020 08:19 PM
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Casey Goode and her son Maximillian

Casey Goode was just adjusting to life as a new mom when she learned that her newborn son had contracted the novel coronavirus.

The American Idol alum tells PEOPLE it had only been days since Maximilian "Max" Vaughn arrived home from the neonatal intensive care unit — where he was staying after he was born 37 weeks into the singer's pregnancy — when her baby boy came down with a fever of 101 degrees late one night.

Her child tested positive for COVID-19 after she rushed him to the emergency room under doctor's advice.

"I was in just complete and utter shock," Casey, best known as Quigley, recalls of learning her 1-month-old's diagnosis. "But the craziest thing is, your maternal instincts kick in and you don't have any choice but to be really strong for your baby. It's so bizarre. I felt this total calm, confident energy wave over my body that he would need that from me."

"There was a part of me that was worried, but the overwhelming sense of me would not let myself go to a dark place," she says. "I just kept wanting to maintain my energy level to calm and secure, rather than panicked, because I knew that wouldn't have made the situation any better."

Casey's husband, Alex Goode, was not able to be at the hospital when Max was admitted due to coronavirus restrictions. Instead, the new dad had to learn of the COVID-19 diagnosis on the phone — a moment he tells PEOPLE was "just such a shock to hear."

"All I could do at that point was to be a rock for my wife," he remembers. "I knew she was doing her absolute damndest to be the rock that Max needed."

After the diagnosis, Casey and Max were whisked away to the pediatric intensive care unit to begin quarantine.

"To just jump into an isolation room without having any preparation was terrifying," Casey says. "But I was not, for the life of me, going to be separated from him for one moment."

Though the mom was not tested for COVID-19 during her quarantine, she was treated as if she had the virus — meaning she would not be able to see her son again if she were to leave PICU.

"The hardest part is just seeing your son ... with all of the cords. He was hooked up to oxygen," she says. "It was really hard to see how uncomfortable he probably was. I’m a person who always looks for a silver lining and I just kept telling myself, 'Okay, we’re in isolation, but this is a precious time for me and him to bond.' "

As the primary caretaker of Max while in isolation, Casey barely had time to sleep, let alone update family and friends on her son's condition.

"It was like I was either on baby duty or I was napping. I didn’t have time to talk to anyone," she says. "It was very lonely, but I had Max and I was still riding on such a high from getting to meet him and to be around him. I was just trying to focus on those moments."

Casey adds that it was also "hard to be away from Alex."

"I wanted him to be able to enjoy those moments with us as a family and from the comfort of our home, but I knew those moments were coming." she says. "The stronger I stayed for Max, the faster I can get him home."

"Casey’s spirit never dropped," Alex says. "I can’t imagine what she was going through in isolation, being there with him, but she was an absolute rock star. I couldn’t have been more proud of how she handled the situation and how much she must’ve helped Max."

The mother-son duo were discharged from the hospital on Oct. 7. Heading home, Casey says she was "on another planet ecstatic."

"I felt so free," she recalls. "I’m pretty sure I went into my backyard and threw my hands to my sides and took a big, deep breath of air. You don’t realize or appreciate how beautiful the sky is after not looking at it for a week."

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"I was just so relieved to have Max in the comfort of our own home," Casey adds. "It was extremely emotional taking him home. One of the most bizarre days of my life. I never would’ve anticipated anything like this happening to us. It was a wonderful moment because it was just a massive relief. It felt like we were finally on the other side of it."

Coronavirus cases among newborns are uncommon. However, children are not at a higher risk than adults, and the majority of COVID-19 cases to date are adults, according to the CDC.

Casey and Alex believe their child may have contracted COVID-19 during a visit to a pediatrician, who had informed the couple that he tested positive for the virus shortly before Max fell ill.

"We definitely were really cautious. We didn’t have any visitors or anything like that, but we did see multiple medical professionals just because [Max] was in the NICU," Casey says. "We kind of knew to keep an eye out for any symptoms."

Since the hospitalization, Max has almost fully recovered from his symptoms.

As for Casey, who tested negative for COVID-19 after coming out of quarantine with Max, she is baffled but grateful not to have contracted the disease.

"Every day that went by that I wasn’t showing symptoms, I was so thankful," the mom says. "It was just mind-boggling to me that I didn’t contract it. Who knows what could have happened?"

These days, Casey and Alex are spending their time bonding with their baby boy.

"There are a lot of horror stories from parents that caution you about how hard it is to have a newborn. But after going through what we went through in the last two weeks, damn, being home with a newborn is pretty easy!" she remarks. "We’ve been enjoying it and trying to stay positive, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."

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