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I don't want to give birth in a hospital right now

I have been pregnant for 245 days, and in the past 12 of those, everything I have come to know about how this baby will enter the world is on the chopping block.

pregnant woman coronavirus birth

I have been pregnant for 245 days, and in the past 12 of those, everything I have come to know about how this baby will enter the world is on the chopping block.

It began when I walked into a lab three weeks ago to do an elective urine test to keep an eye on my proteins. It was two days before things became unglued in California due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and when I walked into the lab everyone was wearing masks and gloves. The woman at the counter pointed to the iPad to sign in.

"I'd rather not," I said hesitatingly, not wanting to touch the screen. "I just need to pick up a jug to pee in."

As I waited for the lab to supply the jug, a man walked through the door with sad and frantic eyes. He went on to plead, "I see on the door it says that you guys don't have the tests and not to come in if you're not well... but I think I have it. I need the COVID-19 test and my doctor told me to find a place to do it. I don't know where to go!"

My stomach dropped and I instantly recoiled, feeling immediately vulnerable. I was standing there, not only pregnant but also with my child. I grabbed my daughter's hand, scared of the world in a way I hadn't ever been before.

Get me out of this room! I made a sharp turn for the door and went straight home. I haven't been out to a medical appointment since that day, and my whole paradigm changed at that lab.

California went on lockdown two days later. And with these snowballing changes, I began questioning what a birth at a medical facility would look like as thousands of people—sick people and healthcare workers—get hit by this pandemic in a place without enough resources to help them out.

There is no short supply of unsettling tales to lose yourself in. I have heard stories of mothers in Seattle giving birth in hallways because there are no beds left. There have been many stories of overcrowding due to the influx of COVID-19 patients. I've read accounts of women in New York being told they must deliver their babies without even one support person or partner in the room in an attempt to keep visitor numbers down and protect undersupplied hospital staff.

These stories replay in my mind as I float through day after day in quarantine at home with my 2-year-old daughter. "Can I kiss baby sister?" she asks innocently.

"Ohhh! Yes, baby," I reply to her as I snap out of my thoughts and into my current reality, smiling at her sweet face.

I am living in a world of two extremes. On one hand, it is intoxicatingly beautiful—we have been "forced" into slow quality family time with one another. But we're also living in anxiety about the fear around us. Thousands of people will need hospital care in California and I can't help but wonder how this will affect my baby's birth.

So this begs the questions I believe we must all ask of ourselves: What do I have control over at this time? What will my takeaways be when I look back and reflect on how these pages of my life were written? What are the things I find the most valuable and how do I retain those things so when I look back at how this all played out, I will still be in awe of the beauty within chaos?

For me, this experience has led me to deeply consider the idea of having our daughter at home as long as that is a safe option for me. After much research, I have found a midwife I trust. I have also started looking into my insurance options and playing out worst-case scenarios knowing that decision time will soon be upon me.

This change means facing my fears about pushing a baby out without the safety net of already being in the hospital should an emergency occur. This challenge means believing in myself, my baby and my midwife to work together in order to do something I feel I was made to do. This new potential birth plan means casting aside worried friends' and my OBGYN's judgments about my having a homebirth and instead, confidently believe in my own decision—should it be the one I make.

But quite candidly, deciding to "follow my mom gut" has been an exciting and freeing feeling from the stress of this pandemic. The idea of walking freely in my backyard while in labor, potentially sleeping in my bed the night of delivery and importantly, holding my husband's hand throughout the birth of our last baby gives me romantic feelings for a reason.

We enter this ocean of motherhood accepting an atmosphere of imperfection and uncertainty. Very quickly after giving birth, our bodies and natural instincts remind us that the world doesn't always feel safe enough for our perfect little babies. Our minds paddle over small waves of fear like surfers going out to sea—distracted drivers, chemical pollutants, too much screen time—we let the water break over our heads, emerging in the valleys of the waves. We see the beautiful break in the water in front of us and forgive ourselves for the fear, as our hair has become wet and our skin a little more wrinkly and sunkissed.

Our children are the future in front of us. We mothers are propelled to move forward and past fears by our innate love for them. When looking at the big picture in front of me—delivering a child at this very scary time—I am finding it more important than ever to remember I am still pointing towards my own destiny, no matter what decision I make.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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