Maternity Leave. I was literally counting down the days. Eager to spend my time snuggling a newborn, recovering from childbirth, and honestly, getting away from traditional “work” for a bit.
I was expected to have my first daughter (and last child ?) in early March. When the doctor suggested an earlier induction based on the baby’s size, I jumped on it. I delivered my perfect girl on March 5th, 2020, about ten days before the world took a turn.
We had my parents and my 3 and 5-year-old visit while in the hospital. It was chaos, but I was grateful. This was my new normal…3 kids! Luckily, the boys go to daycare (hooray for normalcy for them with a new sister in the mix), and my mom is retired (she is literally my world, my best friend, the best grandma, and my saving grace!). I was going to have a break from the kiddos and help from my mom! It takes a village, right?
The first week was nice. My husband had paternity leave. My mom came over to hold the baby and help. And my boys went to school. I would turn on the news and see stories about COVID-19, but I thought, we are America, we got this. March 15th was the last day that I would see my mom and that she would hold her first and only granddaughter…until further notice.
As the week went on, things got a bit more worrisome as the nation slowly started to shut down. I will never forget calling my pediatrician on March 16th and asking, “I have a newborn at home and two kids in daycare, is this safe with all of the craziness happening right now?”. Their response, “Newborns are considered high risk, pull your boys immediately and keep them home with you.” My stomach dropped. We picked up the kids from school that day without knowing when they would return.
So here I was, with three kids at home, unable to get help from my mom (we take social distancing very seriously over here) and a husband that is a tremendous amount of help…but is also working full time.
I will be honest. This pandemic has taken a lot of the joy out of this whole welcoming a new baby to the world. She is my last baby…and COVID-19 has overshadowed quite a bit of our days and nights. While I realize how lucky I am to have this child (and my other children) here with me, I am angry at this virus. I am sad. And I am completely overwhelmed.
The hardest part to conceptualize is how this will all come to a close and WHEN. Every day feels like one and the same; however, my baby is growing up before MY eyes, and I feel sad when I think about that. Like her infancy stage is being taken from her (and me!). My patience is short with my older kids because I am tired. I have to be the worst homeschooler ever. Our schedule is a mess, we eat too many snacks, and screen time is at an all-time high.
I’m here to tell you that although this is possibly one of the hardest and most confusing times ever, we WILL come out of this.
I have found happiness in technology (FaceTime, Zoom, and Alexa Echo for the win), and “car parades” to celebrate birthdays and milestones can really brighten a day. Luckily, the sun has been shining, and we have spent days and evenings playing in the dirt, riding bikes, and dining on the patio. I try to find solace in the fact that the world is literally ASKING us to slow down, stay inside, and chill out for a bit. When will we ever be asked to do this again?
We eat our meals together (all of them!), take walks as a family, and we don’t have the madness that is formerly known as our mornings trying to get out the door. Our house isn’t picked up, and that’s okay…because we have a couple of months (at least) before anyone sees it!
Leggings and sweats are acceptable daily attire, and chocolate chip pancakes have no rules (move over Saturday breakfast special! It’s Tuesday and we will do (and eat) what we want!). We appreciate longer drives and are not in a hurry for anyone or anything. There is a relief in that.
When all of this is said and done, when I look back on these weeks and months, I hope to remember laughing at the dinner table, muddy play in the backyard, and endless hours with my kids…who are growing up WAY too fast.