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.
The world feels so heavy right now.
Moments throughout the day I feel like there’s an elephant sitting on my chest. Pushing down, into my heart, breaking it piece by piece.
Like there’s a water fountain behind my eyes. Forcing water out of my face in the form of tears rolling down my cheeks.
Like there’s a ticker in my mind wondering when the next freak out will come. Counting down the seconds to panic…
What will be next?
This weekend, I was scrolling through social media when I saw my sister tagged me in a Tiger King meme that made me laugh so hard I nearly peed myself.
And then I laughed some more. Thinking of how ridiculous that show is and how ridiculous life feels right now. Like how my 2-year-old keeps running around without her diaper on and how Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Airheads have basically become a food group for me at this point.
Because there are no rules anymore. There’s very little structure. Routine? Yeahhh, that’s pretty much gone, too.
And I need to laugh about that.
Because if I don’t laugh, I might break.
And I can’t break.
So I’m laughing. (Right now, anyway.)
This time of the coronavirus will remind me of a lot of sadness—sadness I don’t even want to get into right now. But it will also remind me of happy things and silly things. Ridiculous things and outrageous things.
Like, it will remind me not only of Tiger King and eating more candy than I did that really successful Halloween in sixth grade, but also of making homemade pasta together as a family while my husband and I snuck pieces of the dough and our children got themselves covered in so much flour they looked like the guy from the movie Powder.
It’ll remind me of TikTok and learning the “I’m a Savage” dance in the bathroom at 2 am because I couldn’t sleep (true story, because… well, I am in fact a savage).
It’ll remind me of diving so hardcore into the Upper East Side world of Gossip Girl because after finishing Tiger King, I needed to be transported to another world that is not the strange new one I am currently living in 24/7.
It’ll remind me of, quite possibly my most outrageous online shopping purchase to date—an inflatable hot tub. (Here’s to $100—and free shipping!—attempting to buy me a sliver of happiness.)
It’ll remind me of rolling my eyes at my husband while I listen to my kindergartener tell her teacher and classmates how she’s been “playing with makeup and sleeping a lot” during her Zoom call.
It’ll remind me of the stress I felt, then giggled at while scheduling more virtual meetings and appointments for my 4-year-old than I ever have as a work-from-home mom. “Sorry, they can’t take your FaceTime at 11 am because of her livestream zoo visit. How’s noon for you?”
It’ll remind me of commiserating with my cousin all the way in Ireland—about all of the same things because we’re basically in the same exact situation as each other no matter the time or professional or lifestyle differences.
It’ll remind me of chatting with one of my siblings in the Houseparty app then all of our other siblings descending into the call one by one to just shoot the breeze for the five hundredth time in one day. To talk about nothing, and do nothing—together.
It’ll remind me of trying to watch Palm Sunday mass online with our kids while the picture is sideways on the TV because we can’t get the iPhone mirroring app to work correctly, two children are half-naked, one child is loudly chomping on Pirates Booty and I’m sipping coffee on the couch in my pajamas.
It’ll remind me of my husband’s panicked face when my 2-year-old bursts into our “office” (bedroom) chanting “Frozen 2! Frozen 2!” during a team call that he was not muted on.
It’ll remind me of tagging each other in and out of our work days like a blurry relay race, shuffling laptops and keyboards every which way, inside and outside, in this room then that room, saying, “You good?” before we make coffee to chug and take our turn to get quiet, child-free work done.
It’ll remind me of our kindergartener losing her second tooth and rummaging through the house for cash—because we never have any on hand—and celebrating when we finally found a dollar to leave(!), which we then forgot to leave(!), and ultimately had to do some backtracking and CIA level recon to salvage the situation.
It’ll remind me of tortilla chips and queso being considered an acceptable lunch for myself. Of my new hobby that is baking bread and then eating the whole loaf. Of friends driving by with signs, saying hi from the road. Of YouTube art videos for kids being considered “art class.” Of the constant wonder how we can still be generating laundry when we all seem to be wearing the same exact clothes every day like we’re Doug Funny.
Of weirdness. Of sadness. Of togetherness. Of happiness. Of wild worry and love and insanity, all rolled into one.
Of a strange time in history that we’ll tell our grandchildren about.
The tough time in our lives where—a convict who really loved tigers, a boatload of candy (and, okay, other groceries, too) delivered by the great and essential postal and delivery workers, choreographed dance videos on an app called TikTok, funny memes of the cluster that is working from home/caring for children/homeschooling/cooking/cleaning, and healthcare worker superheroes—got us through.
Because we will get through this. And a little laughter will help. 💓
Sales of face masks for infants are booming during the coronavirus pandemic, but they’re not effective — and could be unsafe.
The research is good news: The data suggests children are way less likely to become seriously ill if they contract the virus, compared to adults (with the important caveat that babies are more vulnerable than older kids).
The CDC says that nearly three-quarters of kids who get COVID-19 develop fevers, coughs and shortness of breath, but 93% of adults develop those symptoms. Most other symptoms (including sore throats, headaches and muscle pain) are more common in adults. The only symptom that’s more common in kids than adults is a runny nose.
According to the CDC’s report, “relatively few children with COVID-19 are hospitalized, and fewer children than adults experience fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Severe outcomes have been reported in children, including three deaths.”
Kids who are immunocompromised are more vulnerable to severe symptoms of COVID-19, but the CDC wants parents to know that because healthy children may get a very mild version of the illness (so mild you might not notice they are sick) it’s important for families to stay home during this time as kids can be spreaders of the disease and give it to older adults who can become more severely ill.
“Pediatric COVID-19 patients might not have fever or cough. Social distancing and everyday preventive behaviors remain important for all age groups because patients with less serious illness and those without symptoms likely play an important role in disease transmission,” the CDC notes.
The CDC says more data is needed to understand why COVID-19 impacts kids differently, and outside experts agree. “Compared to other respiratory diseases, this is incredibly unique in the proportion of severely ill children,” Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia (who was not involved in the study) told the New York Times.
Murthy continues: “We would expect more hospitalization based on the number of kids that might get infected, and we’re not seeing that at all. And we still don’t know why.”
Of almost 150,000 confirmed cases in the United States between February 12 and April 2, only 2,572 were people under 18 years old.