No one plans to be pregnant during a pandemic. This has by far been the most terrifying part of the pandemic for me. Now that we’ve all been stuck in our homes for a few months, we are beginning to see the inevitable surge of pregnancies. I want to be happy for you, I really do. But as someone who never would have planned for this, I need to explain the true reality of being a parent during a pandemic.
As a quick disclaimer, I understand that many of you don’t take this pandemic seriously. Many of you are still crying about graduation ceremonies postponed, beach closings, and wearing the dreaded face mask to Costco. Your feelings are valid. We are all allowed to grieve the things we feel robbed of. Some people do it in private. Some people find consolation in the shoulder of a loved one, some people gear up with AR-15’s and march up to the capital, some people block traffic to hospitals, some people spit on essential workers. Some people are fucking wrong and need to get over it. If you’re worried about your feelings right now, definitely don’t have a kid- and probably stop reading here. Moving on.
I learned that I was pregnant around Christmas. The pandemic was on my radar, because I watched it’s evolution closely, but this pregnancy was unplanned- and I never would have imagined the devastation that it would soon cause in my communities.
With the exception of social distancing, I was lucky enough to have completed most of my prenatal testing by the time this pandemic caused widespread panic. I was able to receive my fetal anatomy scan on the last day of normal operation in my clinic. Everything went wonderfully- Ares even revealed his gender. But this was the start to a new normal. My husband was not allowed to be present for this milestone. We requested that our technician, the same technician who revealed each of our previous childrens gender to us, place a gender reveal picture in an envelope. Later than night we shared the experience together. There were no tears of joy, no balloons, no family surrounding us as the smoke cleared. It was just us.
Milestones are very important for first time parents. If you’ve ever had a child, you probably understand what I mean. Watching every movement on a monitor is mesmerizing. To hear the heartbeat of my baby for the first time was one of the most overwhelming feelings that I’ve ever felt. If the hormones don’t make you tear up, just watching the look on your partners face will make you lose it.
I can promise you that you won’t be able to experience that the same way with your pandemic pregnancy. All of your check ups will be alone. You may never see your OB/GYN’s entire face, let alone shake their hand. You will not be allowed to bring your partner in for prenatal check-ups, fetal scans, genetic testing, anything. In some hospitals(military, specifically), the father of your child might not even be allowed into the delivery room- some require they wear PPE. You might even have to wear a mask as you sweat, scream, bare down, and push that baby from your womb. This is the new reality for people like me.
I am lucky in many ways. This is my third child. I have felt the emotions before so it is easier for me to process them. I wasn’t trying to get pregnant. Many couples try for years to have a baby- it’s a real struggle and I am so happy for those people that are finally getting their miracle. I am lucky that this was not my miracle baby. Ares is my bonus child, the one I always wanted but didn’t plan on quite yet. He is the greatest surprise, despite all of the terror surrounding birth planning. But I was never planning on renovating the den into a nursery for this baby. The joy of baby prepping has long since passed me by. I figured I would pick out baby onesies between toddler fits in the middle of Target. While that reality has changed a bit, the idea still stands- I was not nearly as affected as some moms.
Children are disgusting, careless, germ-magnets. As a mom, I can confirm this and I don’t need your science to explain how I’m right or wrong. I watched my 3 year old and my 1 year old have a steering wheel licking competition in a race car cart at the grocery store- 2 WEEKS BEFORE THE STAY AT HOME ORDER IN CALIFORNIA. Yes. They’re nasty af. Keep your dirty germies at home and wear a mask when you go shopping. It’s easier said than done, I get it. But for moms of multiples like me, this has sparked a fear I never thought I would have. I’ve always just accepted the inevitability of getting sick after kids birthday parties. I’ve always kept my kids home when sick, but not every sick kid shows symptoms- and it’s not always easy to keep a kid home when your husband is at work and you just ran out of milk and one of your kids is spiking a fever. You get your shit together, throw it in a diaper bag and make it work.
Not anymore. We have an unprecedented amount of doomsday prepping that is quite frankly causing a larger issue. We’re running out of resources. I had to get a prescription for prenatal vitamins because I cannot find any in stores. You guessed it, scared people are buying those too. Somehow they’ve rationalized that ‘if they’re good for pregnant people, they are better than regular vitamins.’ I AM PREGNANT- WHAT THE FUCK. I NEED THIS. KAREN DOES NOT.
Moms can’t find diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, toilet BOWL cleaner, or detergent to wash bottles. Talk about a fucking struggle. Get ready to join it. On top of all the sold out huggies and back ordered babyganics gentle foaming hand sanitizer, I have entered the third trimester pain threshold earlier than expected. I’m 26 weeks and my hips feel as if they are going to separate beneath me. My stomach is cramping up like I’m about to go into preterm labor (for the third consecutive pregnancy-go me). I am straight up not having a good time.
I do not have many health concerns at this moment. But the anxiety of literally ALL OF THE ABOVE has caused bonus panic attacks, surprise blood pressure fluctuations that leave my head spinning, and BIG heart palpitations. I do not have any precursors that would have flagged me for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, placenta previa, none of the big ones. I’m lucky. Read it again please. These are lucky circumstances. If all I have are contractions through out my entire 3rd trimester and some unfortunate, surging pain in my pelvis- at least the baby isn’t at risk.
For those of you who already have high blood pressure or a history of genetic issues, please be kind to yourself during this time. Focus on your own health before it no longer matters. Because I can promise you one thing, doctors give little to no fucks unless it puts your baby at risk. And this is difficult time to get into a doctors office. I feel like a surgeon generals warning right now but, for the love of God, if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, focus on your health. My first two pregnancies were full of morning sickness that landed me in the ER, dehydrated and unable to keep food down. You do not know if it will be safe to stop into the ER in a month or two. My assumption, based on our circumstances, is probably not.
This is a time for self recovery. Heal your mind and work on your body. Poor mental health will not help you get through a pandemic pregnancy. Neither will random yoga sessions and words of encouragement. To all the mamas and soon to be parents out there, stay strong. Hold your head high. Take those belly pics and share them as often as possible- if you feel like it. Rest- if you need it. Don’t do anything that isn’t necessary for yourselves and your babies. I support you and I hope you are surrounded by so many people who will love and support you too. And if any of you are in need of some nasty tasting prenatal gummies to get you through to your next stop at the grocery store, please let me know. They’re nasty but TheY’Re GoOd FOr YoU.