I remember seeing the positive pregnancy test a few months ago and feeling overwhelmed with emotions. Excited to be adding a sweet babe to our family. Hopeful that the pregnancy would continue with as few bumps (ha) in the road as possible. Grateful to be given the privilege to carry this exact child we created. Joyful to embrace the experience of our (most likely) last family addition. Apprehensive at what being a family of five would mean for our family dynamics and routines. Anxious about being high risk again and what that meant for my pregnancy journey. I felt all of these emotions among countless others, when planning for a pregnancy. What I did not realize at the time, was that I would be carrying this pregnancy during a pandemic. I did not realize how minuscule these emotions would feel compared to the feeling of uncertainty that weighs on me now. I did not grasp what a pregnancy during a pandemic actually meant. There was very little out there to guide navigating a pregnancy during a pandemic, or what to expect.
Initially, I could not wait for a summer baby.
After two November babies, I was thrilled to not be having a baby in the middle of flu season. I was excited that my daughters, family, and friends could come visit us as we completed this chapter. Instead, I am facing the likelihood that even my husband will not be able to be present for the birth of our newest babe. While these measures are in place for safety, these are once in a lifetime moments that we will never have again. While I am confident about labor and delivery after having a baby already, going through that for the last time without my husband feels crushing. Not only do I love having him there through the entire experience, but it makes the post birth resting easier on me knowing I have someone there looking out for our infant, and for me. If a home birth were an option for me, I would opt in in a heartbeat. Due to high risk factors and a dangerous condition with this pregnancy, my options for birth outside of an overwhelmed hospital are limited, as are many other moms. An overwhelmed hospital because of a pandemic outside my control. A high risk pregnancy during a pandemic when resources may need to be going elsewhere.
Initially, I was glad when March arrived in the US because I had made it to the halfway point, and was starting to be seen more regularly.
I was looking forward to regular updates from my doctor, tiny baby flutters that turn into kicks, and busting out my new workplace maternity clothes. Instead, I am facing cancelled appointments, teledoc, and lots of googling “Is this normal?” I am wearing the same pair of my husband’s sweatpants instead of my new work maternity dresses since I am on rest, and too high risk to work at the office. I am seeing tiny baby feet poking under my belly, and just worrying. Hoping that babe stays in there as planned until the right time. Praying my high risk factors do not get worse. Hoping that I will get to greet this baby anxiety free, with her daddy next to me. Hoping that the pandemic does not effect me in pregnancy in terms of my mental, physical, or emotional health.
Initially, I was planning to embrace this (last) baby.
I was going to get my first ever prenatal massage. We had already booked a mini baby moon weekend, since we had never had taken one with our other kids. Despite my dislike of my pregnancy figure, I was going to have maternity photos taken for the first time, since it would be my last opportunity. I was going to take my toddlers on grand adventures while we were still a family of 4 as we prepared for our newest addition. I was going to spend my maternity leave surrounded by friends and family. Instead I will relish each week, even while social distancing. I will partake in all activities I can, and let go of the ones I cannot.
If you are pregnant during the pandemic, you are not alone. And we will all get through this.
Medically, we do not know anything for sure. We do not know the effects of this pandemic on our own bodies, let alone our unborn children. We do not know what the damage could be if our family gets infected, whether physically, fiscally, or mentally. Other than us, we do not know if spouses, aunties, or grandmas will be there for the birth. There are people trying to find these answers. But all we can do is keep moving forward. Keep smiling at every kick, and keep doing all that is within out control.
Whether this is your first baby, or eighth baby, every baby deserves celebration. While we cannot control the environment around us, we can control the climate at home. We can rearrange the nursery 15 times to find the perfect layout. We can call our friends to debate rockers vs. gliders and which car seat is better to update our registry. Take the bump pictures and rock maternity clothes of all kinds. Debate baby names with our husband endlessly, and draw out the various name options in cursive to see which looks best. Plan virtual baby showers complete with Zoom games and snail mail favors. Keep doing self care, even if it looks a little different. Date your spouse at home. Snuggle your older children tighter, and savor all the moments in quarantine. Eat well and move your body. Take long walks in the fresh air. Eat the ice cream sundae late at night. Keep celebrating that baby, and keep doing the things within your control. Let go of the rest.
Wherever you are in your journey to motherhood, whether trying to conceive or packing a hospital bag: This pregnancy is a celebration. There is a lot of unknown, fear, and uncertainty. There will be a lot of grief, and a lot of loneliness. Keep doing all the things. And do not lose sight of the celebration.
All the best,