This year has been full of surprises, including my husband and I finding out we are having a baby in the middle of a pandemic.
Many consider us crazy for growing our family right now, but my husband and I had plans to try for another child in 2020 long before we knew what the year would bring.
There are a few things expecting mothers can consider and do to make the journey more enjoyable.
1. Protecting yourself and your family. During my last pregnancy, I loved being out and about with my growing belly. Now, I am sticking to home and work to reduce any sort of risk. Research is still limited when it comes to pregnant women and COVID-19, so I am doing what I can to minimize any possible exposure. Many expecting parents plan babymoons — often exotic getaways — which may now be closer to home and more isolated. Although travel is not in the picture, a babymoon is about spending quality time and relaxing together as a couple or a family before a newborn arrives. We are trying our best to plan activities to enjoy at home or nearby while keeping ourselves safe. If time and finances allow, consider taking a few days off from work and having a staycation.
2. Pregnancy ailments versus COVID-19 symptoms. With every twitch, stuffy nose or feeling of exhaustion, I find myself second-guessing what is happening. It is hard to not wonder if what you are experiencing is normal for pregnancy or possibly a symptom of the virus. If you are worried or wondering, it is best to take the necessary precautions you would take whether pregnancy is in the picture or not. Monitor your symptoms and continue to follow guidelines to keep yourself safe and healthy (i.e. washing hands, distancing from others). Keep your provider informed and discuss any of your concerns.
3. Attending prenatal appointments alone. For first-time parents, this can feel like a loss of an experience that partners do not get to partake in. While it may not be the same, check in with your provider about calling or video-conferencing your partner into the appointment. My husband listened over the phone when we heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. He could not be with me, but he could experience the joy with me. For me, the fear of miscarriage lingers at every appointment and it is scary not having a support person in case there’s bad news. Even though my husband cannot attend, he is on call during each appointment time. It feels like he was a part of that hour and I am less worried about missing any details.
4. No baby showers or sprinkles. My husband and I are states away from our families, so we missed out on a traditional baby shower with our firstborn. We figured by the time we have our second, we could celebrate with a baby sprinkle with the new family and friends we have made here. Unfortunately, that is not in the cards this year, so we have to be creative. COVID has made celebrations through drive-by showers and virtual parties as popular as ever. These seem like great alternatives when you consider there may be no extensive planning, no spending on decorations, games or food, and no clean up! The joy in celebrating baby takes the cake. And while we do not know what the pandemic will look like in the upcoming months, we can hope and consider a sip-and-see party after the baby is a few months old.
5. Labor and delivery rules. Planning for labor and delivery is hard enough without the world in crisis. There are so many looming questions on top of the usual fears and anxieties: Will I be able to have a support person? Will he/she have in and out privileges to check in on our toddler? Will I have to wear a mask during delivery to protect hospital staff? Will my stay be shortened to reduce time and exposure? Maybe it’s the look on my face, but I assume it may be that many expecting mothers are wondering similar things leading my provider to always find a way to mention something along the lines of “hopefully we will have a vaccine before baby comes!”
The questions sneak in every so often, but I am learning to let them come and go. Our little one is not due to arrive for a few more months, and it is hard to predict how things will look when that time comes. I constantly remind myself that all that matters is delivering a healthy baby; how labor and delivery looks will not matter when I am holding that baby in my arms.
Our lives have been changed by the global pandemic and while there are many things put on hold, waiting to start or grow a family may not be an option for some. The joys of pregnancy may look a little different, but I will be sure to tell my daughter that I was pregnant with her during a pandemic!
Dr. Linda Phosaly is currently a provisionally licensed psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at the Boys Town Behavioral Health Clinic. She started in August 2019 and will be continuing as a staff psychologist within the clinic. Prior to Boys Town, she worked as a school psychologist with Millard Public Schools and as a predoctoral psychology intern at Munroe-Meyer Institute. Outside of work, she loves spending time with her husband and 2-year-old son. Linda love deals and you can find her hunting in thrift shops or looking for online bargains. She also love to bake and is currently working on her cake decorating skills.
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