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Moriel gave birth to her second child in summer 2020. Photo courtesy of Moriel.

Moriel thought she was prepared to juggle motherhood with a newborn and an active toddler. But the COVID-19 pandemic added unexpected layers of stress to her second pregnancy and delivery, as well as her postpartum life with Dagan, age 3, and Tor, born in August 2020.

She reflects on managing a pregnancy, keeping her family safe, and finding time for self-care in this edited interview.

ACOG: You were about 4 months pregnant when the pandemic hit. What was that like?

Moriel: It was really scary. I was happy to be past the first trimester, at least. Honestly, if I had been trying to get pregnant at that time, I probably would have stopped.

I found myself looking obsessively at everything the experts knew about the coronavirus and how it affected pregnant women—but there wasn’t much out there at the time. [Here is the latest on what we know now.]

ACOG: How did this pregnancy and delivery differ from your first?

Moriel: It was like night and day. With my first son, Dagan, I went in for prenatal check-ups all the time. I got to see him many times through ultrasound. This time around, I only saw my ob-gyn twice between my 20-week ultrasound and when I delivered. I had to go to those appointments by myself because my husband wasn’t allowed to come. In between, I had video calls with my care team every couple of weeks. It was just the reality of the situation.

Also, with my first pregnancy, I had late-term hypertension (high blood pressure) and was hospitalized for a week and a half at the very end. So this time I checked my blood pressure at home to keep an eye on it. (It was totally normal!)

Another big difference is that with Dagan, I had an emergency cesarean birth after hours of labor. I already had been debating whether to have another cesarean or to try for a vaginal birth with Tor. But I didn’t think I could handle any more uncertainty, so I scheduled the cesarean. The physical recovery was much easier this time, as I had hoped.

By the time I delivered in August 2020, I think they had had a lot of practice keeping everyone safe in the hospital. My husband was the one person allowed to be present for the delivery. It was weird that everyone was wearing masks, and I had to wear a mask while holding my newborn. But I felt really safe and knew everyone in the hospital was doing their best.

ACOG: What has postpartum life been like for you?

Moriel: It’s hard any time you have a baby, and I knew it would be harder with two. So much of life with a newborn is sitting and breastfeeding, not sleeping, and not going anywhere. You just have to accept this phase of your life and know the stress and exhaustion are temporary.

But the pandemic made it that much harder. It was recommended that we not put my toddler back in daycare until the baby was about 3 months old. Dagan is at an age where he takes a lot of energy. Plus, I wasn’t really able to take maternity leave. I am a scientist and my research lab is like a business I have to run. So for the first few months I was trying to work and take care of both my sons, while my husband also worked full-time. It was insane.

Then in October, we were able to find childcare for Dagan and Tor. It was scary to expand our circle, but it didn’t seem like we had any other choice. We needed the help.

When we aren’t working, we do tons of hiking, climbing, and other outdoor activities. Those are great days. My husband is good about taking the kids and saying to me, “Go in the other room and do yoga.” It’s hard to take time for myself, but he helps me prioritize free time.

ACOG: How have you managed visitors?

Moriel: We were pretty locked down for a long time. We had no visits from friends, only close family, until we were vaccinated. Now we are able to see friends and family again, which is awesome and definitely makes everything easier.

Emotionally, it was tough saying no to visitors for so long and asking close family members to follow our rules to prevent spreading the virus. It’s one thing to be responsible for yourself, but it’s another to feel responsible for a newborn who can’t advocate for himself. People understand, but it’s still a struggle.

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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.

This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to women's health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. Read ACOG’s complete disclaimer.