How the Pandemic Changed My Outlook on Pregnancy and Motherhood
Christina describes her experience as a first-time mom during the pandemic.
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Christina was about to enter the third trimester of her pregnancy when the coronavirus reached the United States. Her first child, Clemente, was born in June 2020.
She had no idea the pandemic would last as long as it has, affecting everything from her prenatal care to her delivery to her childcare plans. Though it hasn’t been easy, Christina and her husband are proud of their resilience and consider themselves fortunate. Here she recounts her “surreal” journey into motherhood.
ACOG: When did you realize the COVID-19 pandemic would affect your pregnancy?
Christina: I remember the very moment it hit me, in March 2020. I was driving and listening to the radio, and I heard they were canceling the annual South by Southwest festival—the biggest source of revenue here in Austin. “This is huge,” I thought.
At first, no one really knew the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women. My doctor said, “Operate as though you are high risk and take care of yourself.” I started working from home and stopped going to public places, not even the grocery store. That meant no more attending mass and singing with my church choir. (They soon stopped holding services in person anyway.) The only place I went was the doctor. When I did leave the house, I was always wearing a mask.
ACOG: Tell us about your prenatal care during the pandemic.
Christina: My ob-gyn practice took every possible precaution so I could stay healthy and safe. They scheduled pregnant women in the morning, when the office was freshly sanitized, and didn’t let any visitors come to appointments. I stayed in my car until they texted me to come in, so I could head straight to the exam room and avoid the waiting room.
I even had a couple of drive-through visits with the nurse practitioner. I would park my car at the curb and open the door, and they would listen to the baby’s heartbeat with the fetal monitor. It was so surreal, I took a photo of it for Instagram. The nurse joked it should go in his baby book too!
ACOG: What were your labor and delivery like?
Christina: I was really anxious about being able to have someone with me in the delivery room. My practice agreed this was important and allowed my husband, Andrew, to be there. But he had to stay with me the whole time, with no in-and-out hospital privileges.
I went into labor on my own at home. When we got to the hospital that morning, they took our temperatures. Anytime we came into contact with the medical staff, we had to wear our masks. I wore a mask all through labor and delivery. Whenever I hear people debate about whether to wear a mask, I think to myself, “If I labored for 10 hours in a mask, you can wear one to the grocery store.”
Clemente was born at 8:35 pm. He needed to be treated for jaundice for a few days, but otherwise he was healthy.
ACOG: What has postpartum life been like for you?
Christina: Aside from my mom visiting for a week, Andrew and I have done everything by ourselves since June. Once my maternity leave ended, we took turns working and taking care of Clemente. I could work from home, but it wasn’t sustainable, physically or emotionally.
We planned to put Clemente in daycare, but I found myself researching it all over again because childcare providers closed down and reduced class sizes due to the pandemic. We finally found a place that had space. They have been very transparent and careful to follow safety guidelines.
Daycare is the right choice for us because we don’t have family nearby and we really did need the help. Clemente has been doing well so far—it was harder on me than it was on him!
ACOG: This wasn’t the pregnancy experience you envisioned. How have you coped?
Christina: There have been several moments when I cried because things weren’t going to be the way I wanted. My parents had to cancel my baby shower. I wish I had nice hospital pictures of us and our new son without masks.
I gave myself that space to grieve and cry. Then I picked myself up and kept living my life. I try not to dwell on things I can’t change, or on what this pandemic took from me and my family. I know we’re lucky to have paid leave and other resources to take care of Clemente. That’s not the case for so many families.
We are much more resilient than I ever thought. If we can manage this, I think we can manage raising a child!
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Published: May 2021
Last reviewed: May 2021
Copyright 2021 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. Read copyright and permissions information.
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