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Rhythm of the heart: local music therapist keeps mother and child bonded through song

The bond between a mother and child is something truly special, and this next story proves just how extraordinary it can be. KPRC 2′s Sofia Ojeda spoke with Emilia Herrera about how the power of music helped keep her and her newborn baby connected after being separated at birth due to COVID-19.
The bond between a mother and child is something truly special, and this next story proves just how extraordinary it can be. KPRC 2′s Sofia Ojeda spoke with Emilia Herrera about how the power of music helped keep her and her newborn baby connected after being separated at birth due to COVID-19.

HOUSTON – The bond between a mother and child is something truly special, and this next story proves just how extraordinary it can be. KPRC 2′s Sofia Ojeda spoke with Emilia Herrera about how the power of music helped keep her and her newborn baby connected after being separated at birth due to COVID-19.

“On April 8 I was to the point where I couldn’t breathe. So, I was like, ‘Ok I have to go to the ER.’ I didn’t wake up until the 18th,” said Herrera.

Emilia Herrera used the power of music to help keep her and her newborn baby connected after being separated at birth due to COVID-19. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

At 35 weeks pregnant, Herrera was rushed to the hospital with severe COVID symptoms. Her conditioned worsened, requiring doctors to perform an emergency C-section and place her in a medically induced coma. When Herrera awoke, she was surprised to find her baby was gone.

“I was in shock. It’s been a year and it’s still shocking to me,” said Herrera.

Herrera tested positive for COVID-19, requiring her to quarantine and be away from her baby for a month. Knowing how vital the connection between a mother and child is, the medical team at Houston Methodist thought that music therapy could help. Virginia Gray, Senior Music Therapist, devised a way to keep mom and baby close through music.

Senior Music Therapist Virginia Gray recorded a mother's heartbeat to a lullaby for her newborn baby. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“Your baby knows your heartbeat because she spent this time in your womb. Let’s find a way to let baby hear your voice and dad’s voice and your heartbeat,” said Gray.

Gray recorded the sounds of Herrera’s heartbeat along with the track to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” for a special lullaby for her baby to fall asleep to while her mother was away.

“I was so worried I was not going to have that bond with her. It felt more reassuring that she’s not forgetting me,” said Herrera.

Gray also recorded the baby’s heartbeat to Herrera and her husband’s wedding song as a way for mom to feel connected as well.

Mother and child were finally reunited around Mother’s Day in 2020.

Emilia Herrera is reunited with her baby after being separated for a month due to COVID-19. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

As a thank you for the ingenuity and hard work that went into this project, Houston Life’s Derrick Shore and Courtney Zavala presented Gray with a weekend stay at The Houstonian Hotel Club & Spa in Uptown Park. She also received a surprise gift from Texas Mattress Makers President Youval Meicler: a custom mattress.

“We wanted you to sleep like the queen that you are, so we’re going to make a special mattress that will fit you perfectly,” said Meicler.


About the Authors:

Award-winning journalist, proud immigrant, happy wife, beaming mom. Addicted to coffee. Love to laugh.

Olivia Kolanek is the Features Producer of KPRC 2's Houston Life. She joined the KPRC family in the summer of 2019 after working in non-profit communications for three years. She is passionate about creating content that features good people, good food or a good story. Olivia is a University of Houston alumna, Audible junkie and scuba novice.