Pregnancy, Birth + Having a Newborn During a Pandemic

A few weeks before the mandatory shutdown

We found out we were expecting our new bundle of joy October 10th, 2019 with a due date of June 21st, 2020. Zak, Brody and I were so excited to be expanding our family. This was a new adventure for us and would be my first time experiencing pregnancy. Some of you may not know that Brody is my stepson. I fortunately met Zak when Brody was very young so we formed an incredible bond, but I did not experience pregnancy and birth with him so this was a new experience for me.

I think like most expecting moms, I had an expectation and plan of how I wanted my pregnancy and birth to go. I was hoping for no complications, minimal morning sickness, as much sleep as I could get in before baby would arrive, and maybe one or two prenatal massages…so yeah, a global pandemic was the last thing I expected. A pandemic is already a scary and dare I say an unprecedented thing, and now add in being pregnant and not knowing how COVID could affect your fetus. It wasn’t long after the shutdowns happened that some New York hospitals were restricting mothers to have their partners with them and were sending mothers home a few hours after birth. This info terrified me and made me so upset for mothers who were experiencing this reality. I would say I am a pretty positive, half glass full kinda girl but I couldn’t help but think, “Would this be my reality?“.

Pregnancy During a Pandemic

Some of the things that were disappointing to me about being pregnant during a pandemic were having to attend doctors appointments alone, not being able to have a traditional baby shower, not having friends and family see my growing bump, being unsure of what the hospital guidelines would allow at the time of Ryder’s birth, and being unsure of when our family and friends could meet our new baby boy. I dealt with these emotions by talking a lot about my feelings to Zak, my mom, Zaks mom and my sister, meditating, and praying. Even though I am blessed to have an amazing support system, I wanted to connect with other moms going through the same thing so I searched the internet and one of my favorite bloggers, Lynzy from Lynzyandco recommended a group on facebook, “Pregnant during COVID-19 Pandemic”. There were twenty two thousand members in this particular group. A true collective group of women walking through uncertain times together. This group was so good for me. It was an outlet for me to share my thoughts and feelings and knew other women would relate. Just reading other women’s posts made me feel not alone. Like I said earlier, I would say I am a pretty positive person so I made an effort to focus my attention on the positives of this strange situation. Some of the positive things to come out of being pregnant during a pandemic were working from the comfort of our home especially when I was tired or didn’t feel good, more quality family time, and getting more time with Brody before our family grew. Another way I focused my attention on the positives was by practicing gratitude daily. Just thinking about having a healthy baby boy would instantly lift my mood. My sister knew how much a baby shower meant to me so she threw together a drive-by baby shower for me. It wasn’t how I expected my baby shower to look, but it meant the world to me.

Drive-by baby shower

Birth During a Pandemic

As for the birth, Zak was allowed to come with me to the hospital. This was the biggest relief of my life. I don’t think I could have done it without him by my side. Once we got checked in we could not leave the labor and delivery unit or our room. They tested me for COVID when we arrived and then placed us in a room. In the room they did not require us to mask, except for when i had to push, of course. *More on this with a full blog post coming on Ryder’s birth story* We were not allowed to have visitors or a photographer. I never imagined giving birth without my mom and my mother in law present. This was also a real bummer because we wanted Brody to come to the hospital to meet his new baby brother.

Know how there are moments in life you always look forward to? This was one of those moments for me. I always looked forward to having our families come to the hospital after we delivered our baby and gather around to meet him. It’s such a happy and exciting time, and one of those moments that only happens once. I think it will be something I’ll always feel a little sad about, but I choose to direct my focus on how grateful I am to have a healthy baby.

Overall, the nurses and doctor were very sweet and made our experiences as “normal” as possible. I tried to embrace no visitors by using the quiet time to bond with Ryder and Zak. We decided to leave after 24 hours because I felt well enough and wanted to be in the comfort of our own home. We also wanted to minimize our exposure.

Raising a Newborn During a Pandemic

Raising a newborn during a pandemic has had it own sets of challenges as well. The peditration is only allowing one parent for each appointment, not allowing visitors to come over, only allowing our parents to hold him if they mask, not having traditional newborn pictures taken, and choosing to not take him into public places. There is so much to think about when their immune systems are so fragile. Zak and I decided to take the approach better safe than sorry which is why we have limited who has met him and held him so far. We recently let our grandparents hold him for the first time since his immune system is a bit stronger and they were thrilled. We can’t wait for things to be normal again and everyone can meet him.

2 weeks after we bought Ryder home from hospital

Our new bundle of joy was born 11 days early on June, 10th 2020 exactly 9 months after we found out we were expecting. We learned a lot can change in 9 months time, and I’m not just talking my belly size. Unfortunately it changed the experience I looked forward to having, but most importantly we did not get sick, lose a loved one, or face unemployment. Becoming a family of four has been one of the greatest joys in our life and a global pandemic can’t take that away. Brody is the best big brother and we have had extra quality time together as a family which has been a gift. I have become a stronger person because of being pregnant during a pandemic, it has been a great reminder to let go of things I cannot control, and to find the silver linings!

xx Natalie

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