I had a pandemic baby and – surprising to everyone including myself – it was kind of great. Shocking! I know, a pandemic seems like the worst scenario to bring new life into the world.
But somehow my experience, looking back 9 months later, has been primarily positive.
My son was born at the end of June. We had gone into quarantine with the idea that in just a few weeks we would be back to normal. Nothing would change drastically for my birth and my anxiety would subside once we found the “new normal.”
We were all “in it together, but apart!”
There was a ton of writers suddenly using the word unprecedented. For me, all I knew was that my determination to have my second baby be born without feeling isolated and alone as I did as a first-time mom with PPD, seemed to be going out the window.
I was terrified.
We were in lockdown/shut down, no going out to stores, definitely no gathering. We weren’t supposed to see anyone outside our households. Just me, my husband, and our toddler. This was terrifying to me given my husband and I really struggled the first time around as parents without enough help and I knew I was likely having a c-section. My whole family was on the opposite side of the country, was I even going to be able to have my mom?
I cried for weeks it seemed like.
We developed coping mechanisms like watching an unhealthy amount of FROZEN 2, and started recording bi-weekly cover songs as a hobby. My friends rallied around me online, throwing me a drive-by/virtual baby shower. Gifts arrived, as well as balloons and cupcakes, and I put on the dress I would have worn to my friends’ (now cancelled) wedding and zoomed with friends and family all over the country. I grieved missing my friends being there in person, skipping our last trip as a family of 3, and adjusted my plans over and over.
Even just 8 weeks from my due date, I thought maybe by the time my baby was born things would be normal again.
Joke’s on me, since now we know nothing is likely to ever be that kind of normal again. Soon I was making heartbreakingly difficult decisions, like giving up the idea of a v-bac because it’s too unpredictable and having a planned c-section. Or deciding whether it was safe for my mom to fly in to help me recover. Every single decision was fraught with life or death risks it seemed.
The tears kept coming.
In the end, my mom wrapped herself in saran wrap (aka a boat load of PPE) and came to California. Even though it upset my brothers, she decided to take the risk and I couldn’t be more thankful. My baby was born with just my husband there (thankfully he was allowed; some hospitals didn’t even allow spouses and he wasn’t at any of my doctor’s visits).
We discovered there are positives to having a pandemic baby.
In the quiet of the hospital, we remarked how nice it was to not have visitors, how calm the atmosphere was without other noises since there were fewer people. How devoted the staff seemed since they didn’t rotate cases. We left and went home with our beautiful son, who right off the bat seemed like a chill little dude. I had so many fears going into labor because of my past traumatic birth and PTSD related to it, but a calm easy c-section healed me in a way I never expected.
My mom stayed for about a month until I was fully healed from my c-section wound, and we were starting to get our feet under us as parents of two. Though I didn’t have my friends in person, I had more hand-me-downs than I knew what to do with. People sent gift cards to Door Dash that lasted far longer than the two weeks many usually get from dropped-off meals, plus we got to choose! The lack of visitors meant I didn’t have to pretend to be okay, I could sit around topless to nurse, and never once did I feel pressured to have someone over before I was ready.
It felt as safe as my womb.
Little things like family photos that I’d assumed I’d have to give up, my best friend Amber of Naturally Newborn made sure to figure out how to do safely. Socially distanced and masked up she made sure to document this season of our lives.
We also made the hard but necessary decision to hire help.
There were several reasons for this. My daughter was 3.5 and not in school. She is really high energy normally, but now was depressed from no playing with other kids for months. My husband was working from home full time, and I am disabled plus have a part-time job. Our doctor said it was a smart choice but to not extend our circle any further.
We hired a friend who had a great reputation as a nanny amongst my very close circle of mom friends. She brought her daughter along as the best of both worlds, social interaction for our kids, and childcare/job for the two of us. She and her daughter became an extension of our family, our pod.
A new normal was forming with our pandemic baby.
The next few months flew by. Our little boy was/is gigantic, he nursed with no problem never even losing his birth weight only gaining and gaining. We bought a house, went into renovation mode, and felt joys and sorrows over the year of constant losses and yet finding a lot of beauty. Then we moved to that larger space, allowing all the things we needed to be done, done under one roof.
Now 9 months out I see myself as incredibly lucky and privileged. We had calm, easy birth. We have a calm easy baby. We have the support of our community, a protective little pod.
Having a baby in a pandemic could’ve been a nightmare. I know it has been for so many parents, who didn’t have access to as much help and resources as we did. I thank my community for that. That everyone rallied for me, helped me see that they were there, even if we had to stay apart.
Having a pandemic baby sure isn’t a choice I would have made if offered, but I have no regrets about how we handled it and the love I felt during it.