The only time I ever used the word “pandemic” prior to 2020 was when I was studying historical events from long ago in school. Never did I imagine that I’d use the word pandemic to describe my first pregnancy… or my second one!
I had tried to become a mom for close to two years before I finally saw those two lines turn pink. I dreamed of spending my pregnant days showing off my growing baby bump, seeing friends and family at our baby shower, and having a waiting room full of those we love waiting to hear the news of the birth of our child.
Little did I know that in my second trimester, the world would basically shut down and my dreams would have to be rewritten.
I had to learn quickly to shift my focus away from “what I always thought it would be like” to “what’s realistic for it to be like” as I progressed in my pregnancy. Thankfully, my husband was able to come to our anatomy scan to find out we were having a beautiful baby boy, but he was able to attend little doctor’s visits after that in the face of the unknown of the virus.
I bought several types of masks, loads of hand sanitizer and never left home without my Lysol wipes. I was lucky to have access to these tools to keep myself healthy.
I was so thankful to be able to work from home as a healthcare provider to limit my exposure. We knew enough at that time that pregnant women were high risk for complications from the virus, but we didn’t know much else.
I bought a Shipt membership and never set foot in the grocery store. I was lucky to have this luxury delivered to my doorstep.
Being able to safely limit my exposure had other consequences: my OBGYN cautioned me about making sure I got time outside in the sunshine, kept close connections with friends and family, and tried to stay active and eat well.
Though I felt robbed from not being able to go to Lamaze classes, do a hospital tour before I went in to labor or have a doula in the delivery room, I gained resilience through having to get creative to still receive the benefits of those activities. Many of these services were available virtually, more support groups online through Facebook or Zoom popped up to increase access more than ever before and I was (not-so-gently) reminded to slow down and try to enjoy the process.
My son has only ever known me in public places with a mask on. He’s never seen his pediatrician’s face. He hasn’t traveled as much as I wish he would have by his first birthday. But instead, we got to spend quality time with him at home getting to know each other in our new roles. We’ve enjoyed being outside together and meeting more friends and family through FaceTime than we probably would have been able to in person. I wouldn’t trade that protected time in our “baby cocoon” for anything in the world.
Pregnancy # 2…still in a pandemic
Over a year into the pandemic in this “new world”, you can imagine my shock when I saw two pink lines again on a pregnancy test. Immediately I was hit with memories of the hard parts of my first pregnancy in a pandemic – feeling alone at the doctor’s office, empty hospital hallways when I want to show off my new baby, Zoom baby showers, and spending the holidays away from family.
Quickly after I realized what I’d be missing out on again, I thought about what I would be gaining: another new family member, time to ourselves to get to know each other as a new family of four and time slowed down from the usual hustle and bustle of our busy lives. We also knew a lot more about treatment, prevention, and symptoms of the virus than in my first pregnancy.
The biggest benefit of having another baby in a pandemic was that I knew I could do it. I knew what to expect, I could prepare for what could come and to me, this was “normal” to me. I was already “part of the club” and could stand with my fellow new moms that found ourselves taking on a new title in unprecedented times.
Being a mom is more than providing food, water, and shelter for a human life you created, it’s also about being resilient and proving to yourself that you can do more than you ever thought you could. Labor is usually the hallmark example of this because it’s time-limited and a very dramatic event on a specific day, but ten months of pregnancy in a pandemic teaches you more than you may realize.
I am stronger than I ever knew and more capable than I could have ever given myself credit for. I’m proud to connect with other moms who went through similar experiences, swapping war stories and learning from each other for how we coped and grew and moved forward.