How to Accidentally Have a Baby During a Global Pandemic
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No, this is not a story about accidentally getting pregnant. This is a story about getting pregnant very intentionally and having it coincide very un-intentionally with a global pandemic. An accident, if you will. Remember all the way back to February 2020? Back before masks, nasal swabs, cloroxing groceries and packages, and life-saving COVID vaccines? Ah yes, life was good.
Step 1: Get pregnant before you know about the impending pandemic
I found out I was pregnant with my second child in early February 2020 and I was over-joyed! I had future travel plans that I didn’t yet know I would need to cancel. I even started thinking about a babymoon in early Fall! Family and friends could come inside my home without fear of passing on a deadly virus to my then almost 3-year-old. I had plans of announcing my second pregnancy surrounded by family members (indoors) during the cold Midwest winter. Oh, how things changed.
At first, the idea of staying home wasn’t that horrible to me. As my son’s primary caretaker, I was used to spending long days with him. I’m naturally a homebody anyway and don’t generally get my energy from being around people, so I was happy enough to hang out at home, put my feet up (just kidding, I was still pregnant with another child at home), and let the pandemic…come to an end? But then came lockdown, quarantining, “bubbles”, and just more anxiety on top of my already generalized anxiety and well, I quickly gathered this pandemic wasn’t going away quickly. But surely it would be gone before I had my baby… right?
Step 2: Convince yourself the pandemic will surely end before you have to give birth
It’s 7 months away! We can end a pandemic before then! How long do pandemics last anyway? At this point, I was just happy that I was newly pregnant and had a lot of time for things to improve before I’d be having my baby. After all, having a baby in a hospital with COVID going around and no help from my family seemed unfathomable. Bringing a new baby into the world is supposed to be a joyous experience! And one that you share with your loved ones. Like, in person, ya know?
As the months slowly crept by, and doctor visits increased with frequency and rules (no partners or children allowed during visits, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, take your temperature, stay 6 feet apart!), I started to plan for the worst: giving birth during the pandemic, possibly without my partner, while wearing a mask. As a quick note here, I must say that had this been my first child, I truly think I would have lost my mind. How I handled this is all relative I suppose, but knowing what to expect in terms of already having a baby somehow made this the tiniest bit easier. So as Spring turned to Summer and Summer to Fall of 2020, along with it came second waves, constantly changing hospital policies, and a quickly approaching October due date that would be here whether the pandemic was over or not.
Step 3: Accept what you cannot change and welcome your pandemic baby to the world
In as ideal of a situation as possible, my baby’s birthdate was scheduled via induction. This allowed us to have grandparents quarantine prior to the birth so that they could stay with our first child and gave us the best chance at having everything ready for the birth without the element of surprise of going into labor unexpectedly. Had it not been a pandemic with hospital overcrowding and strict pre-admittance procedures (COVID tests anyone?), our plans likely would have been more laid back. Since this birth would be a TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean) resulting hopefully in VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), we were as prepared as we could be for a variety of outcomes.
Arriving at the hospital the day of induction was surreal, as we were lucky to have a nearly empty labor and delivery department. But with masked nurses and doctors and the vaccine still months away, it was hard to feel calm while wondering if being at the safest place to have my baby would actually put us both at higher risk of contracting a potentially deadly virus. We had to do the best we could with what we had. Ultimately, my baby boy wasn’t tolerating labor well and I ended up with a cesarean section. Let me tell you, having a cesarean section is not pleasant during the best of times. It is especially anxiety-inducing during a pandemic. I had a wonderful team of doctors and nurses who brought my baby into the world safely and attended to me with the utmost care. Barely 48 hours after major surgery, and in order to keep patients in the hospital for as short of time as possible, we were sent on our way home with our newest family member.
Step 4: Adapt and then adapt again
Our baby boy just celebrated his first birthday and we’ve had the unique experience of adjusting as a family of four while relying on very little outside help. Since our baby was born during the second wave of the pandemic, and as the frigid Minnesota Winter was approaching, we decided to keep all indoor gatherings to, well, zero. While this was heartbreaking for a variety of reasons, including the fact that we have close family members within miles of us and that several major holidays were coming up, we had to do what we felt was safest for our family at the time. I realize how lucky we are to even have this as an option. Thankfully, life-saving vaccines were on the way and we were able to slowly add close family and friends to our bubble. Not to mention, as the Winter turned to Spring we were able to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air again. Did my baby look at everyone like they were aliens the first time he went to Target? Yes, yes he did. But truthfully, he seems like he’s adjusted just fine to the people he didn’t get to meet until he was almost 6 months old. He maybe even likes them more because of it?
So, would I recommend having a baby in a pandemic? The truth is, bringing a new baby into the world can be scary, joyful, anxiety-inducing, exciting, easy, hard, and everything in between no matter when it happens and what is going on in the world. I should know, my first baby was born months after the 2016 election. There is never going to be the “perfect” time to have a baby, only the right time for your family. Maybe I accidentally had a baby during a global pandemic, but like any other baby, he was worth every tear and worry that came along with him and brought us more love than we could imagine.
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About the Author
I am a freelance writer, content creator, and stay-at-home mom. I live in Minnesota with my husband and two adorable children. I am doing my best.