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What it's Like Being Postpartum in a Pandemic

What it's Like Being Postpartum in a Pandemic

" husband and I have had so much quality time to bond with our son, go for family walks every day, and figure out who this beautiful little person is without any distractions."

I knew many aspects of my life would change once I had a baby, especially in the first month or two. I was even looking forward to the few weeks before my due date that I’d be working from home, no longer commuting into Manhattan, and have a chance to slow down in preparation. On March 30, 2020, I gave birth to Christian, a beautiful baby boy. I was ready for motherhood. I had 32 years to focus on me, accomplished most of the goals of my 20s, and was ready to prioritize someone other than myself. I was mentally prepared to experience a dose or two of FOMO at the very least. Everything changed for me the second Christian was placed on my chest—but everything had also changed for the rest of New York. 

In the weeks leading up to the birth, I washed baby clothes, sterilized bottles, learned how to wear a Moby Wrap, and waited for my due date to approach. And as my due date inched closer, I came face to face with some harsh possibilities as the coronavirus pandemic escalated. I was riding the subway only days earlier and then, all of a sudden, working from home became mandatory, kids had to transition to learning at home with schools closed for the remainder of the year, there was a chance my husband wouldn’t be allowed in the hospital for the birth of our baby, and our parents may not get to meet their grandchild for weeks or months. It was at this point I realized that my birth experience would be farther out of my control than I ever thought possible. I knew it would be impossible to fully prepare myself for the overwhelming task of giving birth, but giving birth during a global pandemic? That was beyond anything I could have ever prepared for. There’s no rulebook on giving birth during a pandemic to reference. Once I accepted that, I realized I had no choice but to face whatever challenges came my way. 

I labored for 8 hours with a facemask on in a shared observation room while my husband was stuck in the waiting room. I moved recovery rooms twice after birth to make room for COVID-19 patients in the Labor and Delivery ward. I was the first patient to be moved in an ambulance with her baby across the hospital campus to another facility to recover. There wasn’t a nursery at the new facility, which meant I had no chance to rest or nap while recovering. I wasn’t allowed to hold or feed my baby a few hours after his birth because I spiked a fever. The staff wanted to test me for coronavirus, but luckily my fever broke pretty quickly and it wasn’t necessary. I never saw my nurses’ faces, I never met with a lactation consultant to get initial help with breast-feeding, and my husband had to leave an hour after the birth. I was discharged, alone with my baby, 24 hours after delivery at 3:30am in the back of the buildings’ parking lot while trying to figure out where my husband should pick me up. I’ve never felt as scared as I did that early morning, arriving home with a newborn—not rested, not fully recovered, and not totally sure I could take care of Christian on my own.

What’s the silver lining in all of this? First and foremost, my husband and I have a beautiful, healthy baby boy, we are safe at home, and we have everything we need. Because we’ve had no visitors and need to keep Christian away from people, including our parents, my husband and I have had so much quality time to bond with our son, go for family walks every day, and figure out who this beautiful little person is without any distractions. While figuring out how to take care of him without the help and experience of our mothers seemed daunting and impossible at first, it allowed us to become confident that we know our baby’s needs better than anyone else ever could. Our marriage is stronger than ever because we’ve had to lean on each other. We’ve learned that when one of us reaches a certain point of exhaustion, it’s time for the other to tap in. Relying on only each other has taught us to be more patient and nurturing toward each other, our son, and ourselves. Seeing our moms cry when they met their grandson through our kitchen window for the very first time taught us appreciation for our loved ones on a level we never experienced before. Missing our family and friends has taught us to never take them for granted again and to celebrate those relationships. 

I never imagined I’d give birth during a global pandemic, that my mom wouldn’t be over every day during my maternity leave teaching me how to be a mom, that my son would know only his mom and dad, and that as a family we wouldn’t leave the safety of the blocks surrounding our house for the first few months of his life. Becoming Christian’s mom during this pandemic made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. 

Now as the fog slowly lifts and the weather gets warmer, we sit in our yard with our loved ones at a safe distance and we are grateful for the chance to even do that. We look forward to the first time our parents can hold Christian and the huge party we will throw when all of this is over. Above all, we think about that silver lining because that’s all we can do—and we hope to never take the simple things in life for granted again.

RELATED: This is What Being Pregnant During Coronavirus is Like

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