"What keeps me going are the girls," Robin Zinsou said through tears.
The girls are what her 32-year-old daughter, Paige Ruiz, lived for.
Ruiz was an educator and a mother. She had a 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter named Joanna and was expecting another daughter, Celeste.
"Paige was the life of the party. She had the biggest smile, the biggest personality," Zinsou told WFAA. "She loved being a mom."
Ruiz was due to deliver Celeste on July 30, 2021. She tested positive for COVID-19 on July 24, just days before her due date and days before the CDC and a national OBGYN group strongly recommended vaccination for pregnant women.
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"I kept asking her, 'Have you talked to the doctor about getting the vaccine?' And she said, 'No, Mom. I'm going to wait until after I have the baby,'" Zinsou recalled.
What started as a cough turned into a trip to the ER, then an emergency C-section. Celeste was born a healthy baby.
"She's so healthy. She's growing. She's just a happy little baby," Zinsou said of her new granddaughter.
Ruiz was able to recover enough to be alert and meet her newborn daughter via video call. However, she soon developed COVID-19 complications.
"She texted me and said, 'Mom, I wish I got vaccinated,'" Zinsou recalled.
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Ruiz passed away on Aug. 15. She was never able to hold baby Celeste.
"As Paige's mom, it was difficult to see her, knowing she didn't get to see her baby," her mother said.
Days before she died, Ruiz had a purpose and a lesson to share with everyone, according to Zinsou.
"She was texting her friends and her sisters and said, 'You know anyone who isn't vaccinated? Beg them to get vaccinated.' That's Paige's last message."
According to the CDC, just 22% of pregnant women are vaccinated. Over 600,000 Americans have died due to the virus since the pandemic began.
"If you can't do it for yourself, do it for the people you love," Zinsou pleaded. "Please. And that's Paige's last message."
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