In the fall of 2019, after trying to get pregnant for three years, with two miscarriages along the way, my husband and I found out we were expecting a baby boy. To say we were thrilled and grateful is an understatement. Even so, it took a while to really trust that welcoming this baby was going to happen at all. Of course we had no way of knowing we’d be having a baby during the coronavirus pandemic.
Letting go of cherished expectations is stressful
Like any first-time mother-to-be, I spent the first few months of my pregnancy being concerned about my son’s health.
Once I was able to wrap my mind around having a healthy pregnancy, I began to make plans. I went from decorating his nursery and buying baby clothes, to scheduling all the visitors we would have once he arrived. I even started planning for our first trip home to Chicago with him.
Then the global pandemic hit in early 2020.
Having a baby during the coronavirus outbreak totally reshaped my concerns. Almost everything we had planned for went out the window.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, I had been doing my own work in therapy to improve coping strategies for more stress and anxiety. I knew having a baby would increase those responses for me. Having tools and preparing ahead of time felt really important.
It turned out that being pregnant, delivering a baby, and being a new mom away from all of my family and friends was more difficult than I could have imagined.
I am thankful that I did that emotional preparation work. As it turned out, being pregnant during the coronavirus threw us several curve balls that upended our expectations.
We felt the loss of shared experiences as a couple
One of the toughest changes was having to go to my OB appointments alone. My husband and I had waited so long for this baby. So we both enjoyed going to each appointment and being able to hear our son’s heartbeat. Then suddenly he could no longer come with me.
Like millions of women, I felt sad to lose these special moments with my partner who was no longer able to join me for these appointments. We were also unable to take part in our childbirth or CPR classes, or take a tour of our hospital. It was tough to lose so many of the things that we were looking forward to doing.
I felt a sense of isolation
It was also really difficult to feel so isolated while pregnant due to the quarantine.
I had some special activities planned prior to my son being born. I looked forward to going to dinners with my husband, gathering with friends, and taking road trips to nearby places we wanted to explore, for example. But during the coronavirus outbreak, I did not even feel safe going to the grocery store, let alone a friend’s home.
It seemed too dangerous to potentially risk my health or my future baby’s health. Even after my son’s birth, this feeling of being unsafe has stayed with me. So the trips we had planned to take and the visitors we had hoped to see are not an option for the foreseeable future.
Giving birth at the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic
Also like many pregnant women, I was worried about labor and delivery in the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the end, I delivered a healthy baby boy at the hospital, wearing a mask. The experience was difficult and uncomfortable, but he was healthy and that’s all I cared about.
We discovered new things to appreciate and be grateful for
The reality now is that my husband, my son and I are a tight knit trio. Being a new mom is challenging and having community for support is so important. Thankfully, I am privileged to have a solid support system I can access on the phone or video chat.
Even though talking by phone or video is not the same as being in person, it has been so helpful in making me feel like I’m not alone. Reflecting on this experience has allowed me to recognize just how privileged I was in being able to stay safe at home with my husband during my pregnancy.
Having a baby during the coronavirus outbreak also helped me to be mindful of focusing on what I can control. And I had to learn to be okay with not being able to control it all.
My experience during the pandemic is similar to what so many women in the world went through, but each experience is unique in its own ways.
Having my son during the first global pandemic since 1918 was not in my plan, but we did it and made it work. And for that, and my beautiful son, I am very grateful.
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CDC Tips for COVID-19, Pregnancy and Caring for Newborns
Virginia Department of Health FAQs on Pregnancy and Health
Fairfax County, VA Maternal Health Services