No one expects the need to plan for a global pandemic when they discover they are pregnant. But for moms all over the globe, that’s exactly what they are doing. As information on pregnancy and COVID-19 changes almost daily, keeping up with it is a challenge.
At the end of August, when two pink lines appeared on a drug store pregnancy test, I never imagined I’d be thinking about social distancing and taking measures to isolate prior to giving birth. This is now the reality for me and many other moms-to-be around the world planning to give birth in the coming weeks and even months.
It’s not how ANY of us imagined our birth stories when we were celebrating new pregnancies in the Fall of 2019.
My third trimester started at the end of February 2020. The first cases of COVID-19 hit Washington state a few weeks prior, and national media coverage was starting to pick up steam.
Not one to give in to the hype, I reflected on my first pregnancy in 2017. Remember Zika? I made it through my pregnancy dodging mosquitos in the St. Louis summer and delivered a healthy baby girl. It was just my luck that I’d be pregnant while another strange virus loomed, but my rational mind wouldn’t let me believe this would be that big of a deal. After all, it’s 2020, and we live in the United States.
In fact, during my 30 week OB appointment, COVID-19 was still assumed to be a minimal threat and something that would be under control. I had a conversation with my OB about how this thing was being blown way out of proportion by the media and there was a lot of misinformation being spread to incite fear.
I thought I had it all figured out.
But, the conversation during my 32 week OB appointment was very different.
In just two weeks, everything changed. Leading up to this appointment, I spent the previous five days terrified and overwhelmed. I was consumed by following the spread of the virus, which had now reached the St. Louis area, and I was going down the social media rabbit hole reading vicious comment sections on what we should do to “flatten the curve.” I spent most of my waking hours panicked, scared, and in tears, and I could no longer keep it together. All while trying to function as a mom, employee, and wife. I was crumbling. Fast.
When I finally had my OB appointment, I could tell the nurse practitioner had been through the wringer, likely educating patients on what we know about pregnancy and COVID-19, hospital policies, and the like. I could tell she had the same conversations all day, likely all week, with expecting moms:
- There’s no conclusive information to assume that being pregnant is an at-risk population for contracting COVID-19.
- Very limited information is available in terms of outcomes to babies born to a mother who tested positive for COVID-19.
- Information is constantly changing – multiple times, every day.
- We don’t know what the situation will look like when it comes time for me to deliver, so take precautions where you can.
(source: CDC, Mar. 29, 2020)
As a family, we made some decisions:
- I continued to work from home full time (I was already about 80% work from home, but I moved to 100% without further hesitation).
- We pulled our daughter from daycare, despite it still being open, and their actions to help mitigate spread (this is a very personal and tough decision for families to make, which I’m happy to discuss privately if anyone is struggling with making a similar decision – pregnancy or not!).
- My husband still has to go into work, so I now refer to him as our “public-facing representative.” He also goes to the grocery store for us or gets takeout when my cravings require it.
- When my husband enters the house, he is required to shower and change his clothes before interacting or touching anything.
Despite all these changes we’ve made, I’m very much aware of my due date on the horizon. I still have periodic stress, anxiety, and depression over what this reality has become. To help put everything into perspective, or at least to help me get back to rational thinking, I remind myself of the following facts:
- There is a human growing inside of me that will be coming out someway, somehow, and somewhere. I will be there, and as of right now, my husband is permitted to be there. I have no control over policy changes, but I have complete trust that the medical professionals are making the best decisions for moms, babies, partners, and themselves (because they need to be protected, too).
- Our safety (and sanity) come first. I will make decisions and take the actions I need to make to maintain that safety and sanity. No apologies.
- The media will continue to update the public 24/7 on the latest statistics. It’s my choice how much I tune in, whether it be to the news itself, or information on social media. This means I have happily exercised my ability to use the “unfollow” button on Facebook for several groups, news outlets, and even individuals, where the information is on overload.
- Finally, since I don’t want to live under a rock, and want to be informed, I check the CDC and WHO as legitimate resources once a day, or every other day, for the latest recommendations and changes, especially for pregnancy, delivery, and newborns. These are resources my doctor and my daughter’s pediatrician use, so I’m going to stick with the experts on this, with no apologies.
Everyone is feeling a lot right now. Moms-to-be, especially those in the third trimester, are navigating a rapidly changing worldwide health pandemic that could have impacts on birth plans, baby showers, and even who will be allowed to see the new arrival in those precious newborn days. We all need to remember, pregnant or not, that we’re all navigating our own challenges, taking it day-by-day, and making the best decisions possible for our families. I’m hopeful that a year from now when we’re getting ready to celebrate our son’s first birthday, we will be well on the road to recovery as a family, community, nation, and world.
…And that the babies born during this wild time (and the moms!) will have a heck of a birth story to tell for decades to come.