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I am pregnant during a pandemic—I want to stay calm, but I'm freaking out

It is a surreal time to be bringing a new baby into the world. But it's still a great one.

pregnant woman coronavirus

I keep getting texts. I write back to another friend asking how I'm doing, "Good. A little anxious. Just waiting now. What a surreal time to have a baby!"

I don't want to overreact. I don't want other people to worry. I try to keep calm and positive. I am generally not a worrier. But after I send the text, I lose it for the third time today. I am bawling in the kitchen. I am worried and overwhelmed and pregnant during a global pandemic.

I am going to give birth to my second baby in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak, which is still on the upswing in Canada.

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Two weeks ago, my biggest concern while planning for this baby was if the rocking chair we ordered would come in time and who would be available to drop everything and care for our 2-year-old at home while I go to the hospital.

Now, with my due date days away, my concerns are indefinite and growing and anxiety-filled. I have friends and family in the healthcare system. A family member who is a NICU nurse tells me, "Get in, get out, as fast as you can."

My mind is tumbling with questions that are answered with uncertainty. Which potential care provider for my daughter has practiced social distancing? And the least exposure in public? My husband is still working, so could we possibly compromise our care provider if we have it and don't know?

I call my sister. "Have you been social distancing? Has your roommate been social distancing? Has your boyfriend been social distancing?" I've never used this term in my life and now I feel I say it in every second sentence.

She hasn't seen her boyfriend in almost two weeks in order to ensure she has self-isolated and is hopefully safe to take care of our daughter while my husband and I go to the hospital—even with her weakened immune system due to Crohn's Disease. There is no one else I can trust to have self-isolated properly and who my daughter is comfortable with. She is taking a risk, and I am forever grateful.

My local hospital has had its first COVID-19 cases, so it's there. The worries continue—How bad will it get and how many cases will be there when I go into labor? Will I catch it when I go in? Will I or my husband catch it before because he's still working? Will my daughter catch it? If I get COVID-19, will I have to quarantine from my new baby and my family?

My first daughter caught Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) at 3 weeks old and that was terrifying enough. With all the unknowns for pregnant women and babies, how would COVID-19 affect a newborn if my newborn baby caught it?

What if my midwife catches it? Should I switch to a home birth to decrease exposure?

I call my midwife, who advises at this time to move forward with a hospital birth but informs me directives could change in a week. She also advises that during labor most of her work will be done over the phone to reduce her exposure in the hospital until the actual birth is imminent. She tells me, "Wear gloves and a mask if possible or cover your mouth when you go in. Don't touch any elevator buttons or anything. Go straight to maternity."

And, she says, no laughing gas is allowed. That was my lifeline during my daughter's birth two years ago.

Then, what will it look like after? When my daughter was born, my loving and wonderful support system brought meals and offered to clean or hold my daughter while I or my husband showered or took a nap. We joyously invited friends and family to come by to meet our new baby.

This time, we will not be able to allow visitors for the foreseeable future. Family and friends will have to meet the baby over FaceTime and videos or a peek through the window. We will be on our own.

I want my husband to stay home from work after the baby is born to decrease our risk for exposure but how can we justify that to his work and our bill payments? If my husband has to go back to work after his week of paid leave is up, I will be on my own—sleep-deprived with a toddler and a newborn,—and the hovering anxiety of COVID-19 leaking into our home.

As if pausing my worries, my daughter rolls her play stroller up to me with her baby doll inside. "Hold baby, Mama?" I'm so excited to see her become a big sister. In all of the unknowns spinning in my mind, she reminds me to stop for a second and feel thankful.

There are many people and families suffering in the world from this virus. As of now, I am healthy, my daughter and my husband are healthy, and so is the baby.

I am able to stay at home. My family and friends are social distancing and are safe at this time. I still have my support network even if we have to keep our distance (thank you to my mama friends for lifting my spirits by leaving a care package on my doorstep this week!). We have the technology to communicate and keep us connected. I have food and necessities.

I am so, so grateful for our healthcare and frontline workers, midwives and nurses and doctors, grocery clerks, food providers, utility workers, postal staff and all of the everyday heroes that are putting their health at risk to save us and make our world continue to go 'round.

I cuddle my daughter close and I find peace in the time to live slowly at home and be in the moment with her before the new baby.

I turn off my phone and the continuous pandemic updates for a while.

To all of the pregnant mothers at this time, I want to say—it's okay to cry and be anxious and scared in one moment and smile and be grateful and hopeful in the next.

It is a surreal time to be bringing a new baby into the world. But still a very special time, too.

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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