My first child was born in winter 2018, during the worst flu season we’d seen in a long time. As first-time parents, my husband and I turned into complete germaphobes and swore we’d never have another baby during flu season. Fast forward two years, and we kept that promise — baby No. 2 is due in May. Little did we know we’d be battling an even bigger issue: a full-blown pandemic that was sweeping across the globe.
Yep, just my luck! I’m currently 36 weeks pregnant during the 2020 coronavirus outbreak, the biggest pandemic America has seen since the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. While I’ve been much more laid back with this pregnancy than I was my first, I would be lying if I told you this wasn’t stressful. The constant flood of information and newfound realities can be difficult to juggle, not to mention the realization that this pregnancy, delivery and the moments after will be drastically different than I expected.
This process has been emotional — not counting those wonderful pregnancy mood swings. However, there are a lot of positives, or what my therapist calls “buried treasure,” to take away. Here’s what’s it’s been like to be in my third trimester during the 2020 coronavirus outbreak.
When I realized, “Oh sh*t, this is a big deal” and came to terms with my new reality
Social distancing became the new normal, and my husband and I were happy to comply — it meant we’re doing our part to stop this virus. While we adapted to this new lifestyle like pros because we’re naturally homebodies, the unfortunate side effect was realizing the little plans we had in place were beginning to crumble. We canceled professional newborn photos and have to settle for iPhone pics — thank God for portrait mode. We put shopping for the nursery on hold to save money and pad our emergency fund. I know of others who have canceled baby showers and postponed fertility treatments.
While those small but meaningful changes were disappointing, the more pressing concern was how this virus affects pregnant women and potentially my unborn child. Tons of questions flooded my mind: Can my husband be with me while I’m in labor? Will I have to wear a mask during delivery? Can COVID-19 affect the fetus? Can the virus be transferred through breast milk? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has an entire page dedicated to answering these questions for patients, and while it’s not likely it can transfer in utero or through breastmilk, this virus is so new it’s too early for researchers to know for certain.
While I grappled with those answers, the buried treasure I found in all of this: We’re safe at home, not stuck at home. Yes, there are challenges — like my husband going rogue at the grocery store and coming home with cookies and candy instead actual sustenance. Accepting the little things I’ll miss out on this time around was a tough pill to swallow too. However, when I look back at this five years from now, I won’t remember sweating the small stuff. I’ll be happy we made it through to the other side of this pandemic with a healthy baby, and that’s the important thing.
When I realized my family would miss out
One of the happiest times in my family’s life will be altered greatly. The experiences I had with my first — like visitors at the hospital and sharing this amazing human we created with the people we love most — aren’t in the cards this time. I know I will be sad when my mother can’t hold her second grandchild. I know I’ll miss watching my husband’s face light up as he proudly shows off his baby girl to his parents and siblings. It hurt even more to realize my father, who lives several states away and works as an ER doctor, wouldn’t get to meet his second grandchild for months because he’s exposed to the virus every time he works and travel is almost impossible at this point.
Again, I tried to look at the positives. Fewer visitors means more rest for my family. And if you have to cocoon your family and newborn anyway, why not do it now when you have to stay home. Plus there’s always FaceTime and photos. However, it’s still heartbreaking to realize those things we assumed would happen can’t anymore.
The light at the end of this tunnel is that love transcends the physical barriers of this situation. If we take the right precautions, my child will grow to know her grandparents, aunts and uncles when she’s able to play with them and learn from them. Yes, it’s sad that my new reality is a drive-by baby show where grandparents stay in their car and I hold my newborn out as if I were in the Lion King (OK, I won’t do it exactly like that, but close enough). But if it keeps us all safe, we have so much to look forward to on the other side of this pandemic.
When I realized everything was going to be OK
Having a baby is one of the most amazing moments of your life. Having a baby during one of the most historic times in our country is even more epic. And you’re not alone! While the pregnancy and mommy communities are already well connected, we’ll have an even stronger bond than just breastfeeding support and playgroups. We’ll be raising the generation society dubs “Coronnials” or something clever like that. Thanks to social distancing, I’m betting we’ll see quite the “baby boom” and those kiddos will create the next most talked-about generation. As a millennial, I’m thankful to pass that torch.
My buried treasure in all this is that I’ll still have a beautiful baby and it will still be one of the best days in my life. While at times things may feel out of control, I’m taking it as practice for parenting two children — because nothing ever really goes as planned with kids anyway, right? In the end, what defines your happiness now may look a bit different, but all that truly matters is you, your baby and your family are all healthy.
Stay tuned for more on what it’s like to deliver during the coronavirus outbreak and life with a newborn baby during the pandemic. And best wishes to all those who are pregnant during this time! We’re in this together and we’ll make it through.