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Pregnant during a Pandemic

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After a long journey to get pregnant and then three months of severe morning sickness, now I find myself pregnant during a pandemic. I never thought that this would happen, and it’s a scary situation to be in. Today’s post is heavier than my usual content, but life feels heavier these days.

Pregnant during a Pandemic

Recently, I opened up about how just going to the doctor’s office for essential appointments and blood tests is scary. I said that I wouldn’t recommend getting pregnant during a pandemic despite all the cutesy jokes about a coronavirus baby boom.

Later that day, after walking a mile in the cold to and from the doctors office, nervously sitting in the waiting room away from others for three hours while I had four rounds of blood tests done, getting home, immediately putting my clothes in the wash, and showering any potential germs off me, someone I know tore into me for what I said. She said that I have no place telling people not to have children. She minced my words, she wanted to rage out at someone, and I was her choice.

The reality is, I didn’t choose to get pregnant during a pandemic that has brought the economy and society to its knees. I wouldn’t choose to be pregnant during a pandemic – it’s just how it worked out. Ask a pregnant friend what they are going through right now, it’s nerve wracking to say the least.

I am currently 26 weeks pregnant. I struggled with infertility for 3 1/2 years. I had a failed egg retrieval and failed IVF cycle. When I finally got pregnant I was so sick that I spent 3 months throwing up 50+ times a week. At one point I was so dehydrated that I ended up at the hospital to get an IV and was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. It was a lot to endure. Then, once I finally felt better, coronavirus entered the picture.

If you thought basically having stomach flu like sickness three times a week could suck the fun out of pregnancy, you haven’t been pregnant during a pandemic.

The threat of coronavirus is a big fear monster, in the form a real life virus that could put my life and my baby’s life in danger. It’s completely changed our daily lives. Information is often conflicting and confusing. It’s unclear how coronavirus can impact pregnancy. Some studies say we are more at risk, others say we are not. Those with type A blood might be at a higher risk; I am A-. At first they said that mothers were not passing coronavirus to their babies, but then a baby was born with the virus.

We are told that social distancing will protect us. Charles and I self quarantined at home for a full week before the Governor of Illinois issued a Shelter In Place Order. I questioned if I was taking things too far when I started buying home essentials, cleaning supplies, and groceries three weeks ago. Then stores ran out of disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and many grocery items and I was glad I shopped when I did.

Stay at home. That is the rule. Yet, in order to receive the prenatal care I need, I have to leave home. Something that was so easy before has become a task that fills me with anxiety. A visit to the doctor involves two big no-no’s: leaving home and interacting with/being touched by others.

The biggest fear looming over my pregnancy is the unknown. What will the world be like in 14 weeks? What will Chicago be like? Will I risk exposure to the virus by delivering in the hospital?

Over the past weeks, the reality that coronavirus will still be a factor in our lives when the baby comes has started to settle in. Yet the severity of the virus in late June/early July remains to be seen. Hospitals are imposing new rules. If I need a c-section, Charles may not be able to by my side. Some hospitals aren’t letting husbands be present for labor or delivery. I never thought that there would be a chance that I might have to give birth without someone to support me, and that is very unsettling. This isn’t what I thought I was signing up for.

The way one of the most important days of my life will unfold is completely out of my hands. Charles might not get to be there for the birth of what will be our only child. Giving birth likely won’t happen the way that I wanted it to, I am terrified of the possibility of going through it alone, and I’ll also be worried about potential exposure to the virus while we are at the hospital.

Forget having friends or family visit you in the hospital once the baby is born. And those beautiful newborn photos that photographers at Prentice Hospital take, something I wanted so much, won’t be an option.

The moments of celebration surrounding the birth of a baby are being taken away. The very small shower with close friends won’t happen. We have no idea when it will be safe for our immediate family to travel from Maine, London, Spain, and Singapore to meet the baby.

I try not to worry. I focus on the hope that things will be better, and quickly. Now that Illinois is sheltering in place, it at least feels like we have taken a step in the right direction. Charles and I have accepted the fact that we might be self quarantining for the foreseeable future. Staying home is the safest option, and as much as we miss family and friends, we don’t want to put me at risk of contracting the virus.

I am in a situation that is probably hard to understand. I know that everyone is worried about coronavirus. I know that everyone is at risk. But I fear that my baby’s life is at risk and I fear that even if I do everything in my power to reduce my risks, that I could still get sick. I am young and healthy, but my baby’s lung are just starting to develop. The start of viability for babies is 24 weeks but their lungs are in an important phase of development until 30 weeks.

I try not to let fear and worry consume my days. It’s hard. This baby is something that we wanted for so long. We have been through so much to get to this point and now we are in a situation we could have never predicted.

Even though this is a scary time, it doesn’t change the level of excitement we have for the baby. On one side fear and worry can be consuming, but on the other we are so incredibly happy to be having a baby. One of the things that surprises me the most is how much we already love the baby (who doesn’t have a name just yet). But that intense love makes it easy to be scared of anything that could harm her, like a pandemic.

I am grateful to have connected with many other women who are currently pregnant through social media. We are a little tribe that understands each other’s worries without needing to explain them. Some of them have partners who work in industries that require them to go to work and some have partners who work at hospitals. They carry a greater burden of worry than I do.

If you know someone who is pregnant right now, show them kindness. They are scared, and not just for themselves, but of the life of their baby. They want to do everything they can to protect their baby, but nothing feels like enough. Joy is being stolen from their lives and fear is a constant companion.

For me, needing to worry about a pandemic is a cruel joke after a long frustrating and painful journey towards motherhood. But, I guess it has prepared me for anything.

If you are pregnant and want to connect, you can reach me on Instagram at @thekittchen.

If you are able, please stay inside. Sheltering in place is a way to protect yourself and anyone that you could pass the virus on to.
To the delivery drivers, thank you. I feel fortunate that I am able to order food and other essentials for delivery so that I can remain safe inside my home.
If you are a healthcare provider or first responder, I can’t thank you enough for your bravery and service.

Thank you to Superkin for sending me the blouse and dress in the photos.

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