Coronavirus, Pandemic, Lockdown, all the words you never dreamt of hearing when you’re pregnant, not to mention having to birth and raise a child?
My pregnancy was great, it felt easy, I felt the love, and every time I felt that baby kick my heart would grow bigger each time. I was beyond excited to welcome this baby into our arms to love, cherish and protect. We got to go baby furniture shopping, design the nursery, sign up for a registry and have a baby shower. Everything seemed relatively normal until the one day we hear about Coronavirus. I remember when I first heard about it on the news, that there was this virus spreading in China and China was beginning to shut down. Naively I said to my husband, there is no way something like this will hit Canada. Boy, did I eat my words.
Shortly after, the world changed, and so did I. I was immediately told one night after work from my VP that I was now required to work from home until further notice because I was pregnant and there was no research on this virus yet. I didn’t have a chance to pack up my things, I didn’t prepare my replacement enough or take what I needed to work from home. I was scared to go back to work. I was on lockdown. Never thinking, I would be in an actual lockdown. Working from home began to feel normal, my husband then started working from home to avoid any unnecessary exposure. But then things got worse, slowly things at grocery stores were selling out, lines were ridiculous to get inside, and if you wanted to book an online order you would have to book for 3 weeks out! So, here I am 7.5 months pregnant. Grocery stores are running out food, you can’t buy toilet paper because people are shitting their pants left right and centre, and I couldn’t find baby soap or baby cream if my life depended on it. So now what? I started this pregnancy all calmly, had already thought of the end game, but no, there had to be coronavirus that came out of left field. If all of this wasn’t bad enough, hospitals start announcing that there is a potential your significant other will not be with you during labour, they are not allowed to be with you. I’m sorry what? I can’t have my husband with me during the most scary and amazing time of our lives? This is when shit hit the fan for us. My husband and I were alone. Alone to figure out food. Alone to figure out how to get soap for our baby. Thinking, will he be there to experience labour? Will we get any help once our baby arrives? Do we need to wear masks around our newborn baby? What happens after the baby comes home, how contagious is Coronavirus? Can my baby get it and die? Could we contract it at the hospital and die? A million things were running through our minds, and there was no one to turn to and no answers. No one that could have slightly experienced anything we were experiencing or help us prepare.
So, what happens next, we deliver a healthy baby BOY! And thank goodness my husband was able to stay with me #winning. This is good, this is a good sign. I deliver the baby, and now a million new thoughts start racing through my mind. I am MOM now. My one and only job from here on out is to protect my baby. How do I do that when we still don’t know much about Coronavirus, and it feels like the world is fighting with itself. Again, who do we turn too, this was the beginning of the 100 million opinion train on social media. WHAT DO WE BELIEVE???? So we bring baby home, and we convince ourselves it is safe to see our parents because they have been quarantining and have not seen anyone so they should be good. Grandparents get to meet their grandson. YAY, all happy and amazing. But, was it happy? You see the smiles in pictures, but were my husband and I truly happy to have others hold our baby. We were petrified. Did we do the right thing? What If something bad happens. No one asked though how we felt about this, I mean I can’t blame anyone, who would think to ask how we feel about deciding to have them hold the baby? It has never been a question before. Next siblings are introduced, again, we think we feel ok, but now we are just going through the motions. Did we feel sick to our stomach, yes? But did anyone ask again? No. We know it was our decision and we have the right to say no, but I dare any woman who has just given birth to convince me that she was level-headed enough to make any decision, and not question each decision 100 million times.
Raising this baby has been the hardest thing I think I have ever had to do. Do I have anything to compare it too in terms of raising a baby? No, however, this mama bear feeling you get is real. You want to protect your baby with everything you have, you will jump Infront of a train for your child. And this is how it feels with my baby boy and coronavirus. You will protect that baby with everything. I dreamt of a certain type of maternity leave and my friends were going to have babies at the same time as me, and we were overjoyed. Did I get to see my friends? No. I think I can count on my hands how many times I have seen my friends. Again, let me reiterate, having a baby is the most precious thing in the world, but it is also isolating, now throw a pandemic and lockdown into the mix, total isolation. You are alone with a baby, you don’t have proper access to things, even baby doctor appointments are rushed with a mask on, you don’t have your typical circle that you relay on. And no one knows what it is like. You don’t get asked how are you doing on a normal day, and would people think to ask about how you are doing during a pandemic with a baby. No.
Things got easier throughout the pandemic and summer months. Things obviously started to open up again, got to hang out outside and live a somewhat normal, but limited life. But this isn’t a letter to let out all frustration with having a pandemic baby, but this is a letter for all those other women who gave birth during this pandemic. It is hard, so hard. I see you and I understand those thoughts of frustration, and anger and the feeling of being robbed. SO ROBBED. Don’t let anyone tell you, you aren’t worthy of feeling these emotions. It was damn hard and continues to be damn hard day in and day out. Originally when this all started there was no research on anything. Now at least expectant moms and others have the research behind them for making decisions. That is a good thing, that is a win. Science is good when it gives you data to make an educated decision. We can only hope and pray the world becomes a better place again for our babies.
I write this exactly 1 year after I started my maternity leave. Wow what a ride, such a wild ride. Thank you to those moms, friends and family that did reach out to help me through. Thank you to those friends that I could cry and vent too and that were going through the exact same things as I, I don’t know if I didn’t have you to share these experiences with, it really would have been a dark experience. Thank you to my husband who really lived up to the BEST FRIEND, HUSBAND AND FATHER titles.
A pandemic baby. A baby that was brought into this world during a dark time, but managed to be my light in more ways than one.