From the Eyes of an Expecting Mother During a Pandemic
For anyone who has been expecting their first child, we are aware of the common concerns and fears that peculate into our consciousness as we face the exciting but unknown future that a child will bring. These concerns often include, “What will labor be like?”, “Will I be a good mother or father?” and “How will our lives change with caring for this new baby?” But what is it like to be expecting a first child during a pandemic?
I asked my cousin, who is expecting her first child in May, these three questions:
What do you feel you’ve lost?
Experiencing a first-time pregnancy during a global pandemic is a surreal experience. This is no longer, by any means, a “normal” pregnancy and the shift away from normalcy felt like it happened overnight. Everything is more complicated now – from our pre and postnatal care, to the ability of loved ones to share in our joy and excitement, to the worries and anxieties we are experiencing. The uncertainties pile up daily: will I be able to keep myself and my baby safe? Will we receive the same level of prenatal care or have the necessary support postpartum? When will our loved ones meet our baby? The simpler anxieties that come with being new parents feel like a luxury of the past and that is the biggest loss I feel through all this.
What do you feel you’ve gained?
While the losses are many, I have been trying to spend more time focusing on what we have gained through this experience. There is never a shortage of silver linings if you open your heart to them. For one, social distancing and quarantine are forcing my husband and I to slow down and enjoy these last couple months as a family of two. We have more time to spend together, enjoying each other’s company while also preparing for the baby. There is a new simplicity to our life right now – a pervasive stillness. As we prepare to have our world turned upside down (in the best possible way), that stillness is a gift. And that extends to after the baby is born as well. While I am grieving the loss of being able to introduce our baby to loved ones, I also recognize what a gift it will be to have so much uninterrupted bonding time as a family of three.
What do you feel you’ve learned?
This is not a new concept in my life, but the biggest lesson through all this is the realization that you can hold two contradicting ideas or emotions in your heart simultaneously and neither is invalid. I am giving myself the space to feel cheated by this pandemic but also spending time recognizing its gifts and how fortunate I am to have all that I do. I am grieving the loss of a family celebration while also recognizing the gift of time for bonding. I am grieving the loss of feeling like I can provide safety and security for our new baby while also recognizing the privilege I have in my life that allows that security to be within my grasp in the first place. We have all lost and will continue to lose as this pandemic runs its course. Hopefully, though, we have the perspective to see it as an opportunity to concentrate on gratitude and strengthen our empathy for our global community.