My pandemic pregnancy is surreal. Pregnancy, in the best of times, is hard. Common issues include mood swings, nausea and vomiting, body aches, fatigue, insomnia, bleeding gums, swelling, and heartburn. Plus, there’s all kinds of weird, less common symptoms, too. Take cholestasis of pregnancy, a liver condition that can trigger intense itching.
The COVID-19 pandemic brings its own host of problems and stress. Uncertainty, isolation, and fear can wreak havoc on the healthiest of bodies. Or the least stressed of individuals. Throw all that into the mix with pregnancy?
Best Laid Plans
My husband and I are planners. Mapping out a year, five year, and decade plan? That’s a good time for us. We always planned on having three kids, back to back to back. We knew we’d have three under three at some point. But we didn’t know the third pregnancy would take place during a global pandemic.
You know what isn’t a good time for us? Being thrown for a loop.
My Pandemic Pregnancy
We started trying for our third child in July of 2019. Our third boy was conceived in late November. I was already signed on to do Dancing With The Stars of Wayne County, so I knew the first trimester would be a busy and exhausting time. I was looking forward to a calmer, quieter time after the event. But, in late January, Josh sat me down for a talk.
Typically, when Josh encounters a problem, he thinks through the solutions, implements them, and then tells me about it. That he was sitting me down (complete with notes!) told me this was serious.
Josh wasn’t really worried about the virus itself. He was concerned about the economic fallout the virus could cause. So we had one of our super fun planning sessions. Between Josh’s competence and my resilience, I was feeling good about it all. We’re (relatively) young, able to work from home, with children young enough to escape the horrors of e-learning.
But then it hit me. I’m pregnant. Making me high risk.
“…And You’re Pregnant”
Being pregnant, I can’t avoid hospitals. Or an eventual C-section. In January, COVID-19 pregnancies were unknown territory. Could an infected mother transfer the virus to her fetus? What about through breast milk? Would OB-GYN providers be conscripted to work on COVID-19 patients?
There was talk of quarantining newborns from previously or currently infected mothers. Separating newborns from mothers could mean starting life with a helluva an ACE score. I didn’t want that for our baby.
Cue the Anxiety
I don’t mind facing hard things. In fact, I’m rather good at it. But I can’t stand the unknown. I can’t plan for what I can’t see. To me, not having a plan is like not having the sun. And did you know stress isn’t good for a developing fetus? Awesome. Now I’m anxious about that too.
In response, I tried to create an order to our days. That helped some. Exercising would help, too. But my body isn’t cooperating with me on that front. My back goes out with the slightest provocation; my shoulder gets wrenched during sleep.
For me, anxiety manifests outwardly, rather than inwardly. This means I’m much more likely to be irritable or lash out. I’m less likely to experience physical symptoms like stomach problems, headaches, sleep issues, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and trembling. Which is great for me, I guess. Not as great for my family.
But I’m an Extrovert!
I’m an extrovert with a capital E. With all capital letters, actually, as I’m intense. In the Before Time, our mornings were filled with library outings, playgroups, and hanging out with friends. If I wasn’t at home in the evenings, I’d be at board meetings, networking events, or interviewing people. Throw in some speaking engagements and podcast recordings, as well. I was a busy woman.
At first, it was rather relaxing. Now it’s maddening. My brain feels itchy. I literally cried to Josh, blubbering, “I wanna go to a meeting! I miss my people! And strangers! The library needs me!” I’m also not good at reaching out. But, to be fair, by nap time or evening, I’m tapped out and work is calling. Talking on the phone just isn’t the same.
I really, really don’t want to get sick while pregnant. So I don’t see a way around this until the baby is born. Which makes me a weepy mess. It’s really starting to get to me.
All the days are bleeding together. They’re all the same. And this extrovert thrives on variety. It’s homeschooling, make lunch, work/nap/watch YouTube videos/read, play with the kids in the afternoon, dinner, work/watch something/read, and go to bed. Every. Single. Day. Sure, I can slightly change the activities, watch different things, etc., but the gist is unchanging.
I want to be crystal clear here: I hate homeschooling. Just loathe it. I would never, ever choose to do it (but props to all you parents that do!). I also fervently believe that not liking something is not a good enough reason not to do something. And the kids need it. So it has to be done.
But I don’t want you to look at our happy, engaging images of home school and think I’m the picture of bliss. Cuz I’m just not. And that’s ok. (I think.)
COVID-19 Pregnancy Procedures
One saving grace (in terms of getting out of the house) is doctor’s appointments. I can’t get out of those. But, this pregnancy, they look completely different. Josh can’t come to appointments with me. If this were our first child, that would probably be more disappointing. Seeing as how it’s our third, he couldn’t come to that many anyway. Someone has to stay home with the kids. We were all going to go to ultrasound appointments. It was strange to go to that appointment alone.
My wonderful birth doctor has calmed some of my fears. He assures me that local OB-GYNS are extremely unlikely to work on COVID-19 patients. And that newborns will only be quarantined from mothers who are infected at the time of birth.
But I’m not sure how the C-section will go. Will Josh be allowed in the recovery room? What will the visiting protocol look like? Will I stay in the ward as long as I did my previous C-sections? Cue nail-biting about all the unknowns.
How to Survive a Pandemic Pregnancy
I don’t know! Does it sound like I know?! I’m just surviving day to day, by the skin of my teeth. Have a wonderful husband? Give yourself grace? Try to reach out? Opt-out of remote learning?
In fact, you tell me. I will take any and all tips.
This article seems grown-up and soothing, with real tips.
All I know is, my track record for getting through hard times is 100%. And this too shall pass.
Stay healthy out there.