It has taken me two weeks off-and-on to write this post. A part of it is because I wasn’t sure how to share my story and the other part of it was due to lack of motivation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is as prevalent as ever after three months of isolation. In fact, my state of Arizona is the new hotspot for the virus! And it has made the fourth trimester that much more difficult.
Many new mothers, myself included, have missed out on precious moments of their child bonding with their extended family in the face of the novel Coronavirus’s peak. Mid-March, the United States was shut down, along with much of the world. Of course, there have been many states that have opened up, but that didn’t mean it was objectively safe. My state had begun opening up on May 8th. More people have stopped wearing their face masks and the new cases of COVID-19 are rising daily. As a mother, it is my duty to assess what we do know about the virus and protect my child as I see fit, which can be difficult.
Navigating Parenthood through the COVID-19 Pandemic has been difficult.
Imagine having to make decisions that can isolate your entire family. Now add that on top of being a sleep-deprived new mom with a constantly-feeding and awful-to-sleep baby. The “Fourth Trimester” of your baby’s transition into the world just got harder with isolation due to a pandemic!
Therefore, I want to honor mothers in the pandemic with a series. Today I will be sharing my story of being a new mother during the COVID-19 Pandemic, but I will also be sharing the stories of other powerful, brave women during this time in weeks to come. (And if you would like to share your story, find out how at the end!)
Baby G was born before the nation was shut down.
I am grateful for the fact that my son was born on March 4th – just under two weeks before the United States told its citizens to stay at home when they could. This means that I was blessed to have what mothers previously could take for granted. I was allowed to have both my husband and my mother in the delivery room. Family was able to meet Baby G once we were moved into our postnatal suite. We were even able to take him to family homes so that we could celebrate the birth of our son.
However, these blessings were soon taken away as the numbers of those infected with COVID-19 rose and leading doctors and scientists did not have nearly enough data to determine the brevity of this illness. During a time when we should be celebrating the birth of a loved one, we began hunkering in place. I am certainly lucky we got through the first few days of Baby G’s life before the United States was shut down. The fatigue of the first few days is something I’ve never experienced and I am glad we had family members to bring us food and allow us time to rest while they watched the baby.
Raising a baby is hard work, especially without your tribe.
My husband and I consistently called our family a tribe. After we had shut our doors to begin our ‘stay at home’ order, we realized just how true the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” was. I will be the first to say that my son is an awful sleeper. And in those first few weeks, here were many periods of cluster feeding and growth spurts that left me exhausted. My husband would wake up hearing me crying over my crying baby that would not go to sleep (and no, I never could give in to feeling that co-sleeping was an option for our family).
During the country-wide shutdown, my husband was the only one who would do grocery runs. I only ever left the house for my son’s pediatric visits. Family members were only allowed to see our baby boy grow via video chats. This was the new normal for most families all around the world.
The isolation was especially tough. As a new mom, it was very hard to distinguish ‘normal’ stress due to COVID-19 from post-partum depression (PPD). (And trust me, I asked my doctor!)
Coping with a world-wide pandemic is different for everyone.
There were many days that I would find myself feeling lonely and isolated. I was sleep deprived even with my husband helping. It didn’t help that I’ve had anxiety my entire adult life, so I was constantly worried about what could happen if my son caught the virus. Worst yet, what kind of world had I brought him into?!
However, I had to calm down and let myself B R E A T H E. After my parents’ household had self-quarantined, with the exception of the occasional grocery run, we opened our house to theirs. Just knowing I had the option to see my mom relieved me so much! (And yes, I’ll be the first to admit I’m a total mama’s girl!) It was great to have the extra support and to see more than just my husband IRL.
While the pandemic is still ongoing, we must remember to stay hopeful. I have learned that I can go out to get my Starbucks, if I happen to be craving it. If I want to shop at Target, I just make sure either my husband or mom are available to watch the baby. I remember to keep a mask and sanitizer in my purse. Most of all, I try to remind myself that everything will be okay and the reality is that my son is most likely safer from COVID than he is from the flu or RSV.
My advice to new parents would be to keep your tribe.
We are uncertain how long COVID (and its precautions) will be around. However, we need to remember to not be fearful of enjoying life and the family around us. We all want to keep our children safe, but that is not necessarily keeping them in a sterile bubble with just mama and papa.
Therefore, I am telling you to keep your tribe. Have a conversation with those you are wanting to spend the most time with. Make sure they are washing their hands and keeping a distance from others during this time. If they are, allow them to help you!
Now, that’s not to say everyone is able to see my child. If I’ve seen they have been around a lot of people, I request they either self-isolate for two weeks or wear a mask around my child.
Appreciate the time you have with your baby.
I am super thankful that I am able to spend even more time with my child thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was set to be back to work on May 15th, but after the country (and economy) shut down, my store didn’t open until June 1st. Due to the economic shut-down, the company had to slash pay rates and I was therefore forgiven from ‘paying back’ my maternity leave. It was at that time my husband and I chose for me to become a Stay-at-Home Mom!
It’s been amazing to spend time with my son everyday. I absolutely love seeing how his personality is shaping up. Baby G loves to talk – a lot. And as of this week, he thinks his toes are delicious! I’m so glad I get the opportunity to help shape his development every day!
We continue to look forward to the future.
I am most looking forward to taking my son everywhere. It will be great when he gets the opportunity to meet his extended family and my closest friends. I am excited to take him to the beach during family vacations. It will be rewarding to see him running around and generally being a terrorist when he is a tot.
I remind myself almost daily that we will not be locked away from our family forever. There will come a day where we will be able to spend holidays and birthdays with family without the constant fear of what may happen if my child were to catch COVID. I understand that there are worse diseases out there, but it makes me comfortable to know we are doing what we can to slow down the disease progression of COVID-19.
Would you like to share your story?
Giving birth and transitioning into parenthood is rough. It has had even more challenges due to the situation to COVID-19. Therefore, I would like to honor all of the parents that welcomed a little one during this time. Tune in every Monday for a new featured parent.
If you are a new parent as of the quarantine, I have a questionnaire I would love to send you to help share your story. However, if you are a parent with your own story, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a feature!