I gave birth to our fourth child at the beginning of May in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. This global crisis resulted in the rescheduling of monumental events like the Boston Marathon, graduations, and weddings. Pregnancy and childbirth, however, can’t be rescheduled. Baby is going to arrive when baby is ready to arrive regardless of what is going on in the world.
Although this was my fourth delivery, the pandemic brought uncertainties that added to the regular level of worry when I’m nearing childbirth. During my third trimester, I attended masked pre-natal appointments. I was preoccupied with thoughts about what the hospital environment would be like. There was worry that my husband, who could not work from home, would contract the virus and not be able to be with me during childbirth.
I knew that I wasn’t alone in these worries. Pregnant moms everywhere faced unexpected circumstances such as:
- canceled baby showers;
- wearing masks during their appointments and delivery;
- attending prenatal appointments and ultrasounds alone;
- not being able to have their full childbirth support team with them. In some cases, like in New York, there were women who had to give birth without anyone with them;
- sharing their beautiful baby bumps via social media versus in person;
- disappointment about friends and family who could not meet the new addition to the family for several weeks;
- isolation during those initial beautiful but exhausting newborn weeks.
Despite these issues, I realized that there were silver linings of this uncertain time. Here are some of the positive things I found as I navigated my way through it:
Reduced running around during the last several weeks of pregnancy.
I was homeschooling two kids and wrangling a spirited toddler who likes to “decorate” the house by throwing everything everywhere. Picking anything up off the floor was a chore for me. Those weeks leading up to delivery had a calendar full of rehearsals, competitions, and other events that were all canceled. While I was sad for my children, the pace of life slowed down for us as I approached my due date. This left me some pockets of rest that otherwise would not have been there.
The hospital was super quiet.
Although it was hard not introducing our son to loved ones shortly after birth, the absence of visitors in the hospital made the stay really quiet. My husband returned home right after delivery to take care of our other children so it was just me and baby until pick up time. This allowed me to focus on snuggling that baby and starting breastfeeding. Many healthcare providers needed to visit throughout that first day after birth. I found it easier to focus on these meetings versus feeling like my attention was split when visitors were already there.
The postpartum schedule has been more relaxed.
These first several weeks at home were all about taking care of baby and his older siblings. This continues to be helpful as we faced a challenging start to breastfeeding. We are still making progress in this area and I know that progress would be much more difficult if I was running around to school drop off/pick up and all of the activities that were on the calendar when this pandemic struck. The lack of activities has also helped me to get a nap on occasion when the stars align and the baby and toddler are sleeping at the same time.
Housekeeping and cleaning can wait now.
Ok, this is a self-imposed pressure that I haven’t been able to shake over the years but no one visiting means I do basic cleaning when it works for me. Clearly, there’s no deep spring cleaning going on over here with a newborn and three other kids to take care of. However, there are certain tasks that I like to keep up on for my own peace. I told myself that I wouldn’t worry about cleaning when I had my other children but all it took was knowing that someone was coming over and I would be running around trying to bring some order to our home. I’m writing this post right now in a very disheveled looking living room and the kitchen has a level of “we just had a baby” dishes.
It takes a village and the village adapts and rallies.
Yes, no one can visit. Yes, no one could meet our son right away. These things are true and not easy, but we have been blown away by the love we have been shown. Amazing friends and family dropped off meals and gifts to our driveway and gave us a gift certificate for take out. They offered to mow the lawn, dropped off ice cream, and left a homemade cake on our doorstep. They even set up a new slip n’ slide to entertain the older siblings while I’m consumed with taking care of a newborn. These are just some of the amazing things people have done for us. In many ways, I think this crisis has helped to highlight the beautiful parts of humanity. I’m humbled and grateful for all of it.
As I find myself on the other side of this anticipated childbirth, I’m grateful for the experience. My husband thankfully remained healthy and was with me throughout labor and delivery. The hospital staff was amazing amidst this pandemic and our family and friends have been incredible.
To any expecting momma out there getting ready to deliver in these uncertain times, please know that you’re stronger than you realize. You’re bringing certain hope into these uncertain times with that beautiful baby. There is so much positive even in these troubling times. It’s ok to both grieve expectations that had to change and find the silver lining in it all. You got this and we’re behind you.