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**DISCLAIMER** This is our personal story of giving birth during the Coronavirus pandemic, your experience may be different.
When my husband and I saw those two faint pink lines on a pregnancy test in July 2019, we were just ecstatic. We had finally decided we were ready for another baby, and after experiencing an ectopic pregnancy in September 2018, a healthy pregnancy was incredibly welcome. The dreams took over as the pregnancy progressed: would we have a boy or girl, what would we name the baby, would our older son be excited to have a sibling… But in March 2020 everything changed. At 36 weeks pregnant, I realized I would be giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic.
With 3 weeks to go before my scheduled c-section, the coronavirus went from “you need to wash your hands more often” to “we are shutting down the state of Wisconsin.” My husband wasn’t allowed to come to our 37 week appointment and my usually upbeat and straightforward OB/GYN didn’t have many answers for me. “A lot could change in 2 weeks,” he said.
Grappling with giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic, I did my best to enjoy the last couple weeks before giving birth. With schools and day cares closed, our 2 year old son and my 9 year old stepson were home with me as my husband continued to work for an essential business. We took walks and made art, we sang and watched lots of movies. If you stayed off social media and the news, you could almost pretend it was a vacation. We all knew it wasn’t. The lack of routine was starting to make my kids, and myself, crazy. I couldn’t imagine what it would look like when we threw a newborn into the mix.
Our kids hadn’t seen their grandparents in 2 weeks when we went to drop them off the night before. I cried knowing that how I had envisioned they would meet their new sibling couldn’t happen and that my parents couldn’t meet or hold their newest grandbaby for who knows how long. We video-chatted later and I cried some more.
My c-section was scheduled for 8 a.m. on a Saturday and we arrived to the ER entrance (the only entrance open) at 6 a.m. It was eerily quiet. In the parking lot next door, there was a large tent set up where people went if they had any COVID-19 symptoms. I remember thinking that it looked like the apocalypse. In retrospect, what should have been a joyous and exciting occasion felt eerie and overwhelming. We walked in to the ER entrance where they stopped us in the vestibule, asked if we had any COVID-19 symptoms and took our temperature. Everyone wore a mask, but you could hear the smile after we told them we were coming to have our baby.
Everyone in labor and delivery also wore a mask, but they were kind and excited as always. I’ve never met a labor and delivery nurse I didn’t like. No one talked about the corona virus, but it was the elephant in the room. They hurried around and had me prepped and ready for the c-section by 7am. At 8:33am our son arrived!
In the recovery room we took our time with his first latch and getting to know him. No one was coming to visit. About 2 hours after his birth his grandparents and brothers got to meet him on video chat. Everyone was happy, but still I cried.
The next 2 and a half days were a blur of nurses, breastfeeding, and healing. We called all the family members on video chat that would have been at the hospital under different circumstances. On the plus side, without distractions of excited family members and friends entering and leaving the room, we were able to focus on our breastfeeding relationship and had a great start. Those 2 and a half days were just bonding time with mommy, daddy, and baby.
On Monday morning they asked if wanted to stay or go. Only 2 days removed from my c-section I chose to go home. For me, that’s when it really started getting difficult.
My parents came to our home later to drop off our older children and they stood 6 feet away from their new grandson. Friends and family came by with food and gifts for baby, but they left it on the porch.
So far, in the first 3 weeks of his life, no one has held my son except me, my husband, and his brothers. Most people have only seen him through social media pictures or video chat. I had out of town family planning on coming in but those trips were cancelled. This joyous time usually filled with our village has become incredibly isolating.
However, giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic, has brought incredible bonding time for our family. My husband has been able to work from home and our boys help out where they can and dote on their baby brother. We video chat with grandparents weekly, and as the weather gets warmer, spirits are lifted.
Giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t what we imagined 9 months ago. It can be scary and isolating at times, but we’ve learned to look for the silver lining. So pack your hospital bag, call your friends and family, and prepare to bring your little baby into the world. The corona virus can’t steal your joy about that.