My pregnancy in 2020 felt invisible. I found out I was pregnant in February. The timing seemed perfect. Then the pandemic restrictions hit a month later. I left the office to work from home; I told my co-workers I was expecting over email. In place of excited smiles or warm expressions were ping alerts as exclamation points came into my inbox. As we canceled plans one after another that spring, the future became fuzzier and fuzzier. There still wasn’t any clear guidance for pregnant women about COVID-19. Was I high risk? If I got sick, could I make my baby sick?
Each pregnancy milestone I celebrated alone. My husband wasn’t allowed to be at the 20-week anatomy ultrasound, and I sat in tender excitement as I saw our baby for the first time with all his fingers and toes. We did a gender reveal in our back yard; my family watched through a Google video call as we popped a balloon to find blue confetti. We held a baby shower over Zoom, and I opened presents in front of my laptop. It was all happening: the baby was growing right on schedule, but without being around my friends, family or coworkers, it felt different. My joy felt isolated. As the uncertainties of the pandemic grew, the uncertainties of pregnancies became harder to manage. I felt like I had no control. Organizing and preparing our house for the new baby became my lifeline. This was more than nesting. Had my husband and two-year-old not been quicker, I would have found a storage tote for them to sit in. Kitchen cabinets, hallway closets, craft supplies, hand-me-down clothes, toys – they all had their moment in a blaze of color-coded, organized glory.
We kept the chaos of the world at bay, by staying still at home. And then the chaos came home. My daughter caught something at daycare; we all got cold symptoms. I panicked. We still didn’t know how COVID could affect the baby. I made our family get COVID tests: mine was positive, yet my husband’s and daughter’s were negative. Still recovering from the cold that knocked us flat on the couch, my husband and I spent a day in fear. We already had picked out his name: Wyatt. Later I tested negative. Did I ever have COVID? My obstetrician said anything was possible. We did a growth scan to check on him. Wyatt was fine, growing on track and sucking his thumb. I breathed in relief.
Wyatt was born, healthy as can be, on an early fall evening in October. Leaving the hospital was strange. There was no one in the lobby to smile at you; just the nurse pushing my wheelchair. Out front, only our car was in the drive. The sun was out. The crisp air felt beautiful. Wyatt was the perfect distraction from the world in 2020; yet I am dying to introduce my family to the world again. After a year of taking it one day at a time, my patience is gone; small things send my stress response out of control. There are few breaks or moments of rest. But my fragile mama heart won’t give up. We can’t give up now. For them. Amy Barczy is a writer for MIBluesPerspectives.com and a brand journalist at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. More from MIBluesPerspectives.com:
Photo credit: Amy Barczy