Bringing a new baby into the world is supposed to be a time of joy and happiness. Instead, I, like many other women, was faced with uncertainty and fear of the unknown. I am a woman who delivered in the middle of a global pandemic.
The first 32 weeks of my third pregnancy were very much like being pregnant with our first two daughters.
I went to midwife appointments, had ultrasounds, blood work was done, and we announced to our families in the cleverest way I could muster.
Hell, we even took a two-week vacation to Florida during that time.
It wasn’t until we got back that things started to change.
We heard more about this Coronavirus thing that started in China and was making its way through the world.
In Canada, we still only had a handful of cases, and all of those were directly related to those that had travelled to China and Iran in previous weeks.
Within a few weeks of returning home, we were faced with this new “normal” way of life.
Schools were closed. Our groceries were ordered online, picked up curbside, and everything was sanitized upon bringing it into our home.
Even my midwife appointments were being rescheduled.
Instead of having weekly visits, I was going every two weeks.
I couldn’t bring anyone with me, which meant my husband, Anthony, had to take time off of work to stay home with the kids.
Hospital guidelines were changing as well.
The “no visitors policy” was announced mid-March, and I faithfully checked the website for McMaster Hospital multiple times a day to make sure women in labour could still have a support person with them.
Through all of this, my plan for our older two daughters had to be changed as well.
Initially my parents were going to watch them when I went into labour, and bring them to the hospital when we were ready. The girls would have an opportunity to meet their new baby sister and spend some time as a family of five.
My parents and in-laws would then come to meet their new granddaughter.
Unfortunately, this all had to be re-evaluated.
My parents were still under a 14-day quarantine after returning home from Florida, so they were out of the question for child care.
My father-in-law has an essential job, so sending our girls to their house made me super nervous.
Finally, after many discussions and even a few arguments, we decided that just my mother-in-law would come over when I went into labour, and Anthony would come home shortly after I delivered.
It wasn’t ideal, but it was better than option number two that had me going to the hospital alone to deliver our baby girl.
When the day finally came, we headed to the hospital at 3am, running every red light so I wouldn’t deliver in the front seat of my van.
We made it to the hospital and were met with a screening station that was manned by two women and a security guard.
They asked the questions I was expecting, “Have you travelled in the last 14 days? Do you have a cough or a fever?” My husband answered while I was screaming in pain.
We then headed up to labour and delivery where all of the nurses were wearing masks. Because I was in active labour, I was admitted right away.
Once my midwife arrived, everything became a big blur of contractions and face masks. Our baby girl was born at 4:28am, less than hour and a half after arriving at the hospital.
By 7am, I was in a recovery room and Anthony was saying goodbye to us. He was home before our older girls were even awake.
The next 24 hours were filled with masked nurses checking on me, FaceTime calls to family members, and naps when I could find a few quiet minutes.
All was well until I received a text message from Anthony’s best friend around 8:30pm asking how I was feeling.
“Bored and lonely.”
I then FaceTimed my sister, and while she was disciplining her five-year-old, I broke down crying.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was alone in this hospital room, caring for a newborn by myself, and I couldn’t see my other two children until the following day.
Once I got out of the hospital, my emotions got a lot better and I was able to control them.
I’m not even going to lie, the next few days it was nice not having the revolving door of visitors.
The only person to set foot in our home for the first two weeks was our midwife and it was only twice for less than ten minutes each visit.
Other than her, we had some visitors at the back door, mainly our parents, and I was totally okay with that!
We were able to relax. We didn’t have to vacuum dog hair off the floor multiple times a day. And I was able to breastfeed for the first time without having to use a cover or excuse myself from the room.
It wasn’t until baby girl was four weeks old that I had my biggest breakdown. It also happened to be Anthony’s birthday.
I had spent the day making a huge banner to hang in the front window, baking and decorating a cake, making dinner, all while tending to a baby that just wanted to eat and be held all damn day.
Oh, and I had two other kids yelling at each other, yelling at me, because they just wanted “to do something fun”.
I spent the majority of the evening sitting in my bed, crying and breastfeeding, only to come out to stick candles in the cake and take some pictures.
I felt like a terrible mother and wife.
When I talked to my mom that night, she saw the tears in my eyes. I broke down again and confessed that I was sad and overwhelmed.
She reminded me that having three babies is hard – if anyone knows, it’s my own Rockstar mom who had four of us in less than six years – and that I am doing it on my own since Anthony had been back at work for two and a half weeks.
In addition to that, our oldest daughter is completing her Junior Kindergarten year online, and our three-year-old, who is as crazy as they come, never, ever sits still.
Hearing all of this helped to put it all in perspective, but it didn’t alleviate all of the sadness that still takes its toll on me.
It’s not that I’m doing it on my own for most of the day, or the sleep deprivation, or having a sleeping baby on me most of the daylight hours.
The sadness comes from the fact that the only people who have held our daughter are those that live within these four walls.
She is learning people’s voices over FaceTime and there are zero pictures of her with anyone besides the four of us and our midwife.
It comes from seeing our parents sad that they cannot hold her, kiss her, or even get close to her or our other two daughters.
It comes from knowing that our grandparents have not yet met her, and the uncertainty of when that day will come.
As sad and overwhelmed as I get some days, I can’t help but look at my beautiful baby girl and think about the lineup of people who are waiting for a safe time to meet, snuggle, and love her.
And though this pandemic has flipped our lives upside down, kept important family members and friends at a distance, I wouldn’t trade the uninterrupted bonding moments with all three of my beautiful angels that have been made possible.