Today I’m sharing my experience being pregnant during COVID-19 and all the ways it’s felt different from a non-pandemic pregnancy.
We had decided we were ready to try for baby number two just shy of our son’s second birthday. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would ever feel totally “ready” after experiencing postpartum anxiety (that blog is here). However, we did know that we wanted to have more than one child and knew that we didn’t want them to be too far apart in age. I had also started to feel like I at least understood what motherhood meant and knew what to expect so I felt better prepared and confident from that standpoint this time around.
With our firstborn, Shep, it took a good 7-8 months of actively trying to get pregnant before we got pregnant. I don’t say that because it was a long time – I know that there are many women and families who TTC for much longer. I say it because sometimes when it’s your first, you just think it’s going to happen after 1 or 2 months but that’s not always the case (and it doesn’t mean that something is necessarily wrong). For me, I was ovulating about a week later than what they say is typical – so once we got that figured out and did the ovulation kit thing, I was able to get pregnant.
Anyway – back to THIS baby. 🙂 We’d decided that we weren’t going to stress about it but we weren’t going to try and prevent it if it happened right around January / February of 2020. It was also around this time that Shep started randomly pointing at my belly (before I was pregnant) and asking if there was a baby in there. To the point of me wondering if one of his teachers at his daycare was pregnant or something because I had no idea how he would even know that babies typically lived in bellies at that point. But that gesture sort of made me happy and I like to think he was somehow summoning his future sibling or giving me a nudge that this would be the right timing.
By the time early March rolled around, I had a feeling that I was pregnant. Now – if we put ourselves back into the March mindset – COVID was definitely starting to preliminarily weave its way into our lives here in the US – but it wasn’t something I was overly concerned about…until everything changed practically overnight. We went into quarantine on a Sunday that month and two days later I took a positive pregnancy test. What I naively thought would be a two to three week lockdown – has turned into something none of us could have fathomed.
I can’t even imagine what was going through my pregnant friends’ minds who were due in the March / April / May time frame. All of a sudden, their entire plan for birth was turned on its head. Reports of women having to deliver their babies alone without a support partner and babies being taken away to quarantine after birth were being reported everywhere. If you are one of those moms who went through that – you are stronger and more resilient than you know and I just want to acknowledge you.
In a lot of ways I feel lucky that I got pregnant when I did. I didn’t have to consider if I wanted to try and get pregnant during this time (since it happened right before) AND I’ve had time to sort of process this COVID stuff so that I can at least prepare for anything going into delivery. There have been ups and downs and a lot of unknowns. For that reason I want to share the top 3 ways being pregnant during COVID-19 has been different than a non-pandemic pregnancy in hopes that other pregnant moms will be able to relate, and so that anyone considering getting pregnant will have some ideas as to what to expect.
- Appointments: My husband has not been able to attend any appointments with me throughout the entire pregnancy. He was able to come into the 20 week ultrasound (but not the 20 week appointment). So I would record the heartbeat and things like that to make sure he still felt included (especially for those first few appointments). I find myself asking my doctor for any COVID-19 pregnancy medical updates at each appointment (most of which get answered with “we just don’t know”). There’s also frequently have to ask (because the rules change so often) what happens if I test positive when I go in to deliver, what does that mean for the actual delivery, are masks required while in labor, will my baby be taken from me if I test positive, what are my rights, etc. I do feel grateful that this is my second pregnancy as I have more understanding and confidence around the “normal” stuff. For all you first time mamas having to do this during a pandemic – I see you.
- All the fear and unknowns of contracting COVID-19 while pregnant: In June the CDC published a report stating that pregnant women with COVID-19 are 5.4 times more likely to be hospitalized than non-pregnant women, 1.5 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU, and 1.7 times more likely to receive mechanical ventilation. There are also higher risks of going into preterm labor. If you’re a woman of color, numbers show you have an even greater risk factor of these things as there are major racial disparities among pregnant women with Coronavirus that disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic women.The first two trimesters I felt an extreme amount of pressure and stress around trying to avoid getting COVID. Since I became pregnant the first “week” of COVID (you know what I mean) I wasn’t sure if getting it early on in pregnancy would have horrible consequences that we just didn’t know about yet. Nobody had been pregnant (or at least studied) in the early stages of their pregnancy with COVID – so we had (and still have) no clue what that would mean. Now that I’m in my third trimester I am also trying to avoid it at all costs because we still don’t have enough data AND I do not want to test positive when I go into labor and put this baby in harm’s way the minute she’s born.
- Social Tension: Because of all that fear we just talked about – I felt and feel complete responsibility to protect myself from getting COVID. That has caused a lot of tension and anxiety around interacting socially with friends and family throughout this entire year. As we’re all learning during this unprecedented time, everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to how we live life from a social aspect. Trying to balance being safe without putting our entire life on hold or having to miss very important family and friends’ life events, has been very emotionally draining to say the least. It also doesn’t help when everyone has an opinion, the natural guilt you feel at turning things down or saying no, or the fact that you question every single decision you’re making throughout the entire pregnancy. We had three COVID scares (two exposures and one bad cold) within a 4-5 week time frame and it was one of the hardest months we’ve ever had. (I also feel compelled to note that we have been very careful and the exposures we did have were all people who needed to be in our circle and couldn’t have been helped.) Luckily we have good access to healthcare where we live, along with access to rapid tests, and we tested negative each time. Even testing negative meant that we had to quarantine (in case it would show up later) and that we didn’t have childcare during those times in order to protect our sitters. Every time it happened I was positive that we’d gotten it and my fear for Shep, our unborn baby, my pregnancy, paired with having to quarantine and work without childcare put us at a stress level of 10.
All that being said, we are extremely blessed and grateful for this pregnancy and wouldn’t change it for the world. I do hope that by sharing these things, other pregnant moms will feel seen and a bit more understood. I also hope that if you aren’t expecting or a parent, that you can get a sense of what it’s been like. This year hasn’t been easy on anyone – and we all deserve some grace and understanding. We’re all facing something with this pandemic – and it’s important we share our stories and hear each other out so that we can be as supportive as possible.
If you’d like to share your pregnancy journey (especially if you’ve been pregnant during COVID), we’d love to hear it and share it on Motherhood For Me. Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org !
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