Hospital tours, baby shower, birth class—all canceled.
A few short weeks ago, I started singing "You Are My Sunshine" to my baby each night before bed. I want my baby to recognize my voice when they arrive in June.
A few short weeks ago, my biggest concerns were around finding and researching the "perfect" baby products, making it to a prenatal yoga class and lathering on belly butter to prevent stretch marks.
A few short weeks ago, I was lucky to be surrounded by my family members eagerly telling them to place their hands on my belly so they could feel the baby move. I wanted to share my joy with them, the first grandchild on either side of our family, and I worried not everyone would get a chance to feel the baby's movements.
Today, I am worried—like most mothers—about how we will get groceries safely next week without being exposed to COVID-19. I have never felt fearful of physically being in our local grocery stores, until now, and it feels strange. The dramatic changes brought on because of the pandemic have left me feeling like the world is spinning.
Suddenly everything I was looking forward to has been stripped away—canceled birth classes, hospital tours, baby showers, maternity photos, haircuts (okay, I know this isn't that important but I desperately wanted to get a haircut before my baby comes!) and a gift card for a prenatal massage that will sadly go unused.
I can't even easily purchase diapers or wipes for my baby—something that I assumed would always be accessible. I feel unprepared.
And I've been having a repetitive nightmare of being separated from my baby after giving birth because I have contracted COVID-19. Even worse—I fear the hospital will be so full there is no room for me and my baby in case we need medical intervention.
Yes, I know this may not actually happen, but as a first-time mom paired with the uncertainty of the world right now, I am feeling frightened. I'm searching for a sense of normalcy wherever I can find it. Today I was Googling "absolute necessities for a newborn" to see if there was anything I could purchase to simply make me feel better.
All of the prenatal podcasts I've listened to and pregnancy books I've read have one piece of advice in common—find community and support. The message is clear and repetitive: "Connect with other mamas in your birth class", "Ask for help", "Make a chore list for people to help when they come to visit", "Find support", "Remember, you are not alone!"
But now, I, like many other pregnant-during-a-global-pandemic mothers, am feeling alone.
Who knows when it will be safe for my family to see me again? I may not be pregnant anymore, and they may not meet their grandchild until they are a few months old.
I know that our situation could be much, much worse. I often feel angry at myself for even grieving the pregnancy I've dreamed of and lost when others are suffering so deeply. I am acutely aware of the pain happening in the world and feel it to the deepest core of my being. As an empath, the emotions of others affect me tremendously. So much so in fact that at my last prenatal visit my blood pressure was the highest it has ever been.
It's exceedingly difficult to feel excited about the new life I'm bringing into the world when the world currently seems so turbulent and full of pain.
But when it comes down to it, no matter what else is going on, I can't deny that I'm sad. I am so, so sad. Sad for all of the first-time moms whose realities have changed similarly to mine. Sad for the partners who cannot be at their prenatal visits or births. Sad for the healthcare workers and nurses working the front lines. Sad for everyone experiencing loss.
I've even found myself thinking Did we choose the wrong time to have this baby? Why is this happening now?
But what I've come to realize is that actually, now is a perfect time. This baby is teaching me every day to grow stronger than I ever knew was possible. They're teaching me to sit in stillness. To sit with my feelings—no matter how big or small, how heavy or complicated. To slow down and breathe. To never take these special moments for granted.
I still sing "You Are My Sunshine" each night, but with greater emotion and purpose than I've ever felt before. This baby has become my literal beacon of light. My sunshine on these cloudy days.
And even though everything has changed, I have faith that the sun will come out... eventually.