Pregnancy and pandemic: 4 weeks to due date

Last week I wrote about my anxiety and disappointment that the joy and excitement we should all be feeling is being robbed from us amid this pandemic. I spent the two weeks prior to that post being stressed out and anxious. I started working from home before my company suggested it, and then mandated it. I was already limiting my external activities before my county issued a stay at home order for 30 days. That order lifts two days before my due date. I still have no idea what these next four weeks have in store or how much worse things might get.

But, I do know this: we are going to have an incredible story to tell this baby. It isn’t the one she deserves, but it will be uniquely hers.

It will be a story of joy and hope in the midst of fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Instead of telling her about all the things that couldn’t or didn’t happen we’ll share with her the amount of people who celebrated her arrival with us via all means of technology available to us.

Our hospital pictures will look very different than her brothers’ do and she won’t have the shot I really wanted – her brothers sitting with me in bed holding their baby sister, but we’ll show her the pictures of her brothers meeting her when we all got home and point out their excited faces.

We’ll talk about the amazing care team we had at the birth center and how they made sure we were well provided for and remained safe and healthy.

We’ll tell her about all the walks we took as a family and point out the same trees and flowers to her that we currently point out to her brothers. We’ll tell her that in the midst of a life we didn’t plan for and aren’t sure how to handle, she brought us a sense of peace and comfort.

No, it isn’t the experience I was hoping to have. It isn’t the experience I was PLANNING to have. The experience I had planned in my head included visitors at the hospital to meet her. It included her brothers coming to meet her and hold her and a group hug with Mom, Dad  and all three kiddos. It included newborn photos that were taken by someone with an infinitely better skillset than I possess.  It included so many seemingly silly and superficial things because this is my last baby. She will always be my last baby and her entry into this world deserves to be so much more beautiful than what I think it will be now.

But, when we tell her her story, it won’t include the disappointment for things that couldn’t happen because of a pandemic. It will include the message that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. That we know there are big things in store for her life – there have to be, right? Otherwise, what’s the point of being born in the middle of a pandemic?!?

My anxiety is still lingering in the background, and it is ready to pounce at the tiniest thing, but as I have been walking through our neighborhood I have been mindful to purposefully see that there is so much life happening around us. All of the trees are budding or in bloom; the forcynthia has bloomed; tulips are coming up.

In the middle of all this chaos, there is the normal, every day cycle of spring. And there are people having babies – like it was any other time. Just like normal. And while everything feels far less than normal, somehow I know everything is going to be alright. 

Pregnancy and Pandemic: 5 Weeks to Due Date

Have you ever experienced pregnancy in the midst of a pandemic? It’s a first for me. And it is incredibly…surreal. I’m due in 35 days and during what should be the most exciting 35 days, I find myself filled with anxiety, worry, stress and a myriad of other emotions before excitement or joy happen. And that makes me SO MAD. 

I feel silly for being mad at a virus; it’s not the virus’ fault that humans are stupid and can’t won’t follow instructions and stay the hell home. But I’m mad. I’m mad because the experiences in my final days of pregnancy that I had planned for and prepared for aren’t going to happen. What should be weekly appointments with my doctor have been pushed back to every two weeks and my husband can’t join me at them anymore. 

The boys will not be allowed to come to the hospital to meet their little sister. It sounds like I may not be able to have visitors, either. The pictures and hospital memories I thought I was going to get no longer exist. All of the things I thought I was going to be able to do, I won’t. 

And I’m not alone. I have friends who are in the same boat and none of us really know what to do or how to prepare for an experience we’ve never even thought of before now. I’m terrified to bring a new person into this world. It seems insane. And what does maternity leave look like now. Will I even be able to leave the house? Am I going to be stuck at home for 14 weeks with no human contact outside of a person I can’t talk to?

My trigger for anxiety is situations where I can’t control or predict the outcome. So the last several weeks I have been on high alert. I’m trying to wrap my head around what our new normal looks like for now. My littlest guy’s learning center decided to close to keep everyone as safe as possible – that means working from home with a 1 1/2 year old – not an ideal situation. My oldest guy’s school is doing everything in it’s power to responsibly and safely remain open in an effort to serve the parents who are in the healthcare profession and CAN’T work from home. I definitely appreciate all of the measures they are going through to continue to serve us. 

It’s been tough trying to explain in simple terms what’s going on when the oldest asks why we can’t go eat a restaurant, or go to swim class, or soccer practice.  Or play at the playground. We’ve been honest telling him all of those things are closed and when he asks why they are all closed we explain that there are a lot of germs making people sick, so they had to close so everyone could clean the germs. It’s the best we have right now and he seems to understand it; but he doesn’t understand why he can’t play with his friends, or why a lot of them aren’t at school anymore.

His birthday is in May and I’m already dreading, fearing and anticipating that it will become one more thing that has to be canceled because of this pandemic. And that’s so unfair for him! Of course we’ll do our best to make the day special for him at home, with just us. But I know he’s really looking forward to this birthday – and I’m going to be heartbroken for him if it doesn’t happen exactly the way he deserves.

I recognize that all of the things I’ve mentioned are just arbitrary moments in life, and that you just adjust and adapt and make the best of the situation at hand. And that’s what we’ll do, but right now, I’m mad about the fact that we have to do that. I’m mad that the experiences and moments I want aren’t going to happen the way they should

So in a few weeks, hopefully I have my anxiety in check and my thought process shifted to finding the joy and excitement in the coming weeks, but…I’m not there yet. And if you have other friends or family members who are pregnant, especially if they are near the end of their pregnancy, make sure you’re checking on them. 

Being pregnant during a pandemic is a wild mind trip.

Stop telling parents to “enjoy it because it goes so fast”

A lot of my friends and I are in the stage of our lives where we have young kids. Many of us have toddlers AND newborns. We are all living on caffeine and dreams (and dry shampoo). I see my friends post things on Facebook or Instagram about how hard a particular day or moment has been and I sympathize. Because oof; I’m right there with ya.

And then I see the comments. Sigh.

Why do parents with older children constantly tell those with young children to “enjoy it.” “They grow so fast.” “You’ll miss this.” “Just wait until…”

We know.

We see our toddlers and realize how quickly they went from baby to kid. We watch them hit milestone after milestone and see how fast time is escaping us. We are aware of how many days there are until they graduate high school (for my oldest it’s 5,641 as of this post).

But in the thick of struggle, we don’t need to hear “enjoy it.” “You’ll miss it.” What we need to hear is “How can I help?” “Do you need a hand?” “Can I watch the kids?”

I miss holding and rocking Henry to sleep; I don’t miss crying while doing it because he just wouldn’t go to sleep. I secretly miss sleeping next to him and waking up to his perfect little face; I don’t miss the three months I spent sleeping next to him on a futon mattress on his floor because he refused to sleep in his crib.

I know I’ll miss the funny things he does and says as a toddler; I don’t think I’ll miss the constant power struggle over every. single. thing. we ask.

I know I’ll miss Charlie being this tiny, perfect little bundle of amazing. But I’m not sure I’ll miss being unable to communicate with each other. I’ll miss holding and staring at him while he sleeps; I won’t miss the (seemingly) endless back pain brought on by his need to be held.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore each and every age and stage we’ve gone through, but that’s because I’m looking at the whole picture; if I look at individual pieces, there are some I’m glad we are past.

And so, Parent-of-older-children; I know you’re well-intentioned, but those comments aren’t helpful. Yes; they grow up so fast. The days are long, the years are short. We know. But because parents must have a selective memory, you don’t remember (or are choosing not to remember) how hard this stage is.

Right now, we just need a sympathetic ear. And maybe a ten minute break to drink the tea or coffee we’ve warmed up six times today because our kid is crying about socks.