True Life: I’m Pregnant in a Pandemic
When Matt and I decided we were ready to start trying to have a baby, it was a well-thought-out decision. This was going to be our first child and we had a lot of discussions to prepare. We are planners, so we did what we do best, and we made plans. But you know what was not a part of any of those plans? A worldwide pandemic.
Things were already shifting in New York City when I discovered the faint pink line on a stick. The city and the world were abuzz with panic and uncertainty. Within days of our big news, New York was on lockdown. Sensing this was coming, my always-prepared husband suggested we talk to my parents about staying with them in the suburbs for a few weeks, where it felt safer and we’d have some more space. For the record, the “few weeks” became five months. Five months being 35 and married and pregnant and sleeping in my childhood bedroom surrounded by my stuffed animals and the Abercrombie shopping bags I’d proudly displayed as a teenager.
Throughout this entire process, I’ve been trying very hard to focus on the positives and maintain a sense of humor about this. At the end of the day, I’m just grateful to be having a healthy pregnancy so far. But being pregnant in a pandemic definitely makes you think about things you never had to before. For example….
Even pre-pregnancy, I drank a lot of water and tended to need the bathroom a lot. It’s kind of a thing with me. One of the many things I love about my husband, is that he never makes me feel bad when we have to stop on a car trip, no matter how many times I have to go. Being pregnant, I am going to the bathroom more than I could have ever imagined, and because we’ve been avoiding going indoors or using public bathrooms, this presented a really big issue when driving an hour to see my OBGYN or spending more time outdoors. Enter what Matt has been lovingly referring to as my She-Wee. Yes, friends, I now use a portable female urinal funnel connected by a tube to a bottle that stores the contents until we arrive back home and can properly dispose and clean.
I’ve now become a pee-in-public pro, but it didn’t start that way. I definitely cried the first few times I used my She-Wee. Even when we were pulled off in remote areas, I was mortified that someone might see me. But now, it’s pretty much become routine on car trips or outdoor backyard visits with my in-laws. When you gotta go, you gotta go. Oh, what a time to be alive…
Another thing I’ve learned? Men love pregnancy pillows, too. Not gonna lie… both Matt and I are sleeping with pregnancy pillows right now. The pillow gives him the full body support he needs to avoid waking up with numb limbs. Previously, my husband bolstered himself with about six pillows surrounding his body. Between my growing belly and two pregnancy pillows, our bed is a little crowded right now. But Matt has described his pregnancy pillow sleep as “glorious,” so I don’t think the pillow is going anywhere when baby arrives.
Without dwelling too much on the negatives, I think it’s important to acknowledge what couples like us lost being first-time parents during this time. We haven’t been able to share this excitement and celebrate with our friends and family in a normal way. With so many unknowns about how this virus affects pregnant women, we’ve been incredibly isolated throughout the entire pregnancy. Our friends and family are not with us through this… they’re not seeing my body change. I actually think a lot about how most people in our lives will have last seen me before I was pregnant and won’t see me again until after the baby is here… as if this entire chunk of time, this major moment in our lives, just didn’t exist. We aren’t going into stores, so there was no fun test driving of strollers while putting our registry together. And while things are still uncertain for November when we’re due, it’s very unlikely we’ll be able to have any visitors at the hospital. Perhaps we won’t be able to have visitors period, depending on the state of things. It makes me sad and scared to think about our parents and siblings not being able to hold their new niece and grandchild. We’re both very close to our families, and that is a reality I never could have imagined in a million years. But it may be the reality we have to face in order to keep our newborn daughter healthy and safe.
The worst part, of course, is that my husband cannot come to any appointments with me. He heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time on the phone, sitting in our parked car outside of my OBGYN’s office. I Facetime him during the Q+A portion of my exams, but he’s never actually met any of the doctors at the practice, and likely won’t before I’m at the hospital in labor. Thankfully, it seems like he will at least be able to be with me for that. I Facetime him so he can see the blurry screen during my sonograms. But so much of his participation in this process has been remotely from the car. This was particularly hard when we hit bumps in the road in the pregnancy, like when I had spotting at 11 weeks and had to make an emergency appointment to make sure we hadn’t lost the baby. I completely understand why this is the case, and I am grateful that my doctors are taking every precaution to keep mamas-to-be and their developing babies safe. But there’s really no way around it—it sucks.
All of this, coupled with the state of the world and our country, has often left me feeling like, “What are we bringing a child into?!!” But there are positives of being pregnant in a pandemic too. Pregnancy=tired all the time, especially at the beginning, so it was pretty amazing to be at home and be able to rest when necessary. Because we don’t really see anybody, I’ve been able to dress in comfy clothes, not wear makeup the majority of the time, and wash my hair once a week, all of which have been lovely. While this certainly was not the way I intended to spend the last six months, I’ve been having more time with my husband than I ever would have if we were not in this situation. It’s pretty special to have this much time just the two of us, before we become a unit of three.
While I think we were all hoping it would not be the case, it looks like we are all going to be in this situation for the foreseeable future. It’s easy to feel alone, but I remember reading that pregnant women make up about 5% of the population, so I know there are many couples, just like us, having this experience. I’m sure a lot of them are pregnant with their first too. Sometimes, all the hormones make it impossible, but I’m trying to stay calm and grateful. We’re healthy, and that really is all that matters at the end of the day. And until life bears some semblance to what it was before, I’ll just be over here, probably peeing in public, with my She-Wee.