My husband and I started trying for a third baby last year, and by the beginning of 2020 with no positive news, I started to feel concerned. In early March, I got my period again, and wept quiet, lonely tears in our upstairs bathroom, allowing myself the time to mourn while my husband and children were at work and school respectively. I felt like the world was caving in.
Two weeks later, it actually did.
When the nebulous rumors of the coming coronavirus turned into a national panic and soon a crisis right here in my obscure county in Georgia, life took a turn. We went from hearing our schools would close for 24 hours for a deep cleaning to the crushing blow that life as we knew it was cancelled for the foreseeable future. I already felt isolated in my months of trying to get pregnant and failing; now I was truly isolated and with high risk family members in our home, we couldn’t take a single chance.
My husband and I discussed putting off trying for #3. There were so many unknowns but everything we did know wasn’t good. Since I have an autoimmune disorder, there would be all sorts of extra precautions we’d have to take. And of course, we worried about bringing a newborn into the world during a time of chaos.
But I’m in my mid-thirties and it had already been several months. Were we going to risk never having that third baby at all by putting off trying into an unknowable future box when the world was righted? That didn’t seem wise, either, so we proceeded. Two months later, I finally saw those two pink lines.
I can’t accurately describe the swell of emotions that came when I found out we were finally pregnant with that third miracle, but I will say there were a lot of tears. Mostly of joy, but I was also worried about all the things I couldn’t control. I don’t mind wearing a mask everywhere I go or standing several feet apart from strangers in public to keep our family safe. But the rest of it? Let’s just say pandemic pregnancies ain’t easy.
For starters, my husband has not been permitted to come to a single one of my doctor’s appointments. I’ve always felt slightly guilty about being the one who feels those precious kicks and jabs from deep within, but this time around he’s being robbed of the opportunity to see his little one in real time on the ultrasound screen. And don’t get me started on the obscene amount of childcare we’ve had to pay for just so I can run pregnancy errands as simple as getting a quick blood draw or picking up a prescription. Not being able to take the kids anywhere is turning me into the kind of mother who truly never feels relaxed. So much planning, so much needless extra thought just to get through the simplest tasks.
Hard, too, is the “social distancing.” God, I wish I could forget that phrase and never hear it again. We’ve loosened up our “bubble” a bit to see some close friends, but for the most part my family hangs out at home, and it’s lonely. I miss dinner parties and pool get-togethers; hitting up local playgrounds with my kids. Experiencing this pregnancy in isolation is tough… all I want to do is be around people who will help me see the humor in my swollen feet and problem-solve the nursery furniture arrangements. But I can’t even let my closest friends enter our home, and it’s sad.
Never have I felt more distant from our family, who all live out of state. I couldn’t in good consciousness ask them to get on a plane, but a deep ache swells within me every time I talk on the phone to either of my parents. The fact that this is likely my last pregnancy, possibly their last grandchild, and my mom is missing it all? Sometimes we can’t even handle FaceTime because we’ll both cry. Memories of shopping for maternity clothes with her, or having an ice cream on the beach with my dad and my huge belly, surface constantly. For a family so connected as ours, it’s torture feeling anything but, and especially with a new baby on the way.
I might not have a baby shower this time around, which wouldn’t be the biggest deal for a third baby but we’re the type of people who celebrate every life so it feels foreign and strange to me. I don’t even know if my parents will be able to safely come down and visit us when we have a newborn in the house, and have been advised by my own doctors that I need to completely isolate from a month out of his arrival. Apparently, if I become exposed to the virus right before the birth, they might take the baby away from me in the hospital. What torture is that?
I don’t mean to complain; there are so many worse problems in the world. But in light of everything going wrong everywhere, I just wish this precious gift we’ve been given, could be celebrated all the way. Could feel… well, normal.
Here’s the good part though: being pregnant during a global pandemic doesn’t just mean you’re cut off, isolated, stressed out, and terrified. It also means you are carrying a little ray of light in the darkness. I am not being trite; I mean it thoroughly. Everything else is stressful and crazy right now, but I have a ball of hope inside of me that I carry everywhere (even if many days that “everywhere” is just from the kitchen to the living room!).
Every single kick makes my heart flutter. Every time I hear his heartbeat at the doctor’s office, I get tearful. This pregnancy has become a beautiful reminder of everything we still have to be hopeful and grateful for. Every baby is a miracle, but a pandemic pregnancy is medicine for the soul. It is proof that even at the hardest times, human nature is resilient and there is always something good to be found. This baby is my silver lining, and I’ve never needed one more than I do right now.