When we decided to have a third child I thought there’s no way that this third labor could top my first two. My first child was born during a blizzard. My second child was a whopping 10 pounder. This time around during the final weeks of my pregnancy I realized that this delivery would take the cake, I would be giving birth during a pandemic.
I really didn’t want to be pregnant during the hot summer months. Luckily, we found out this baby was due in late March and that seemed like an ideal time. Good weather and it doesn’t encroach on my other children’s birthdays. Great! Not so much….
As I neared the final weeks of my pregnancy, I began to see that the coronavirus wasn’t something that was going away easily. Instead, hospitals across the United States started to increase the restrictions on hospital visitors. New York even banned birthing partners. I think that’s when my anxiety really began to increase.
At 38 weeks, I went to my weekly appointment with my OBGYN and expressed my concerns. He simply said let’s see what happens this week. Most moms in their second and third pregnancies will go into labor in their 38th week. While I listened to this, I did remind him that my pregnancies aren’t typical. My second child, I had to be induced at 41 weeks. And the other “usual” stat, that most women don’t give birth to 10-pound babies also didn’t apply to me. I was concerned about having another large baby but also obviously giving birth during a pandemic was increasing my fear exponentially.
Planning for the unknown
The 38th week came and went and I was back at the doctor. 39 weeks with no signs of labor progressing, I asked the doctor, so what do we do? My baby was already measuring 8 lbs at my 38-week ultrasound and I really didn’t want to give birth without my husband there supporting me. My doctor gave me the option to schedule my induction that week as the fear of the unknown was far greater at this point.
So two days before my due date I went to the hospital. Luckily, they were still allowing birthing partners at that time. However, we had to go through the ER to be screened for COVID-19. The hospital was fairly empty and everyone was wearing masks. There were far fewer people in the labor and delivery unit than the last times I had been there.
Luckily, once I was in my room and my labor pains started, I completely “forgot” about the pandemic. I was far more focused on birthing a child. At around 2 a.m., I started to feel labor pains. I saw the lovely anesthesiologist at 3:30 a.m. Then began pushing at 5 a.m. and my beautiful baby girl arrived at 5:05 a.m.
The reality of giving birth during a pandemic
After a few hours, I was moved to postpartum recovery. That’s when I started seeing the differences in giving birth during a pandemic. I remembered that there would be no sweet meeting between my two older kids and the new baby. There would be no gushing grandparents there oohing and awwwing over their newest joy. But, I was so appreciative of having a healthy baby that I took this as an opportunity for quiet bonding time with just the three of us.
The first thing I asked my postpartum nurse, was, “When can we leave?”. She seemed surprised by the request. I explained, that I’d like to get out of here as quickly as possible due to the virus. I was able to leave the hospital 24 hours after delivery. As my nurse was pushing me in the wheelchair, I clutched my newborn tightly as we wandered the nearly vacant hallways. As I got into the car with my husband, there was a huge sigh of relief that we made it out possibly before things got terribly worse.
Now that it’s been a few weeks, we’ve had the stay at home order and more states have started limiting birthing partners. When I went to my follow-up visit with my OBGYN, everyone was in masks and my husband wasn’t allowed with me. I felt terrible for those women still pregnant who wouldn’t be allowed to have their partners with them during their ultrasounds.
Since we’ve been home, we have to explain to our children many times a day why they can’t see their grandparents, cousins, and friends. I imagine to a 5-year-old and 3-year old that it doesn’t make much sense and seems unfair. The weight and gravity of the situation aren’t lost on my baby’s grandparents though. They desperately want to hold their newest granddaughter. But instead, we wait for a brighter day, when we can introduce our youngest in-person to their village.
Sending love to all of the pregnant women living in these uncertain times. I see you, I pray for you and your bundles of joy.