As someone who had a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic, my experience was both exciting and anxiety-inducing. I was determined to make the most of my delivery day, which happened to be at 5:00 AM. As a person who enjoys wearing makeup and doing my nails, I made sure to take care of those little details before heading to the delivery room. I was thrilled to have a C-section, and the experience was nothing short of amazing. The hospital staff took care of everything, from monitoring my vitals to briefing me on the anesthesiology experience.
The pandemic was taking hold and it was starting to affect our lives in ways we never could have imagined.
The surgery only took about 30 minutes, and before I knew it, my beautiful baby was born. The nurses handed her over to us and I was crying with joy. It was an unforgettable moment. However, as I enjoyed this beautiful moment, the outside world was changing.
As we settled into the hospital, there was a sense of innocence in the air. We were still unaware of the extent of the pandemic. That morning, we had walked into the hospital with no masks on. We checked in without a care in the world and were given everything we needed, including an IV, warm socks, and all the monitoring we could ask for. There were no restrictions on visitors or who could be present during the birth. We were excited to start our new journey as parents and we were determined to make the most of our time in the hospital.
However, as the days went on, things began to change. We started hearing about the pandemic from doctors and nurses. The hospital had shut down several entrances and now required wrist bands to re-enter. The world outside was becoming more and more restricted and lines were beginning to form at grocery stores. Baby formula was beginning to sell out in stores and online. My husband, who had left to go to the grocery store, sent me a photo of a trunk full of groceries with the caption, “Let’s get quarantined.” It was a sobering reminder of the situation we were in.
As we left the hospital, we knew that things were different. We were in a whole new world and we had to adjust quickly. We were determined to stay safe and protect our new baby.
Once we left the hospital, we were restricted in ways we never could have imagined. I cancelled a lot of the postpartum care that I had put in place to help my recovery and to increase my well being. We went from five nights of postpartum doula care to one night. I cancelled my belly binding appointment. We limited our social interactions and my in-laws flights to Austin were cancelled. All in all, my baby girl didn’t meet her in-laws for nearly two years. It was a struggle to endure it and it is heartbreaking to look back on. We spent the first three months of her life in our apartment in Mueller in Austin, Texas. We took her to her regular pediatrician appointments and walks in the park, but other than that, we limited our outings. We didn’t go on play dates and I didn’t meet other new moms or friends for coffee. We had to get creative with how we stayed in touch with family and friends. We did lots of video calls. We had a big group Mother’s Day call. We played virtual Pictionary with my parents.
It was a very isolating experience and it was mentally exhausting. As a new mom, I was already dealing with a lot of emotions, but the pandemic added a whole new layer of stress. I was worried about my baby’s health and safety and I was worried about my own. There were so many unknowns about COVID-19 to add to the new challenges of parenting and I found it extremely stressful. My husband left for work after three months and I faced parenting a newborn during a pandemic on my own. I rose to the challenge and am very proud of the parent that I was during that time. But it was a difficult time, and it took a toll on my mental health.
Eventually, my husband came back from work after five months and he was able to provide me with much-needed support. But as things were starting to open up, I found myself feeling angry and bitter about the missed opportunities during my daughter’s infancy. Seeing other moms out with their strollers at coffee shops or taking their babies to the park with friends made me envious and resentful. I was angry and bitter that we had missed out on so much. We had missed out on socialization, on the ability to go to the gym or take some time for self-care. I had to confront these negative emotions and seek therapy to work through them.
It has a challenging journey, but therapy and talking things over with friends has helped me shift my views on my experience. While I may have missed out on specific socialization opportunities during my daughter’s infancy, I developed a strong bond with her due to the amount of quality time we spent together. I now focus on making new memories with her and taking her to places we couldn’t visit during the pandemic. It’s an ongoing process to deal with the time I spent as a new mom during the pandemic, but I my mental health is improving and I’m learning new ways of coping.
I believe that it’s essential to talk about the unique experiences that mothers had during the pandemic. My friend went through a very similar experience to mine, and she’s been an invaluable resource for understanding and empathy. The more we share our stories, the less alone we will feel, and we can begin to heal emotionally.
Giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic was a unique experience that came with its own set of challenges. I am grateful that my daughter and I are healthy, and I cherish the time we spent together during those early months. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the missed opportunities and work through any negative emotions that may arise. By sharing our stories and supporting each other, we can move forward and build a better future for our families.