A Pandemic Pregnancy

What I’ve been telling people, as some sort of self-imposed clarification I guess, is that we planned for this pregnancy — TMI, this baby was not a quarantine conception.

What we didn’t plan for was this pandemic. See, we decided about a year ago that we wanted to try for a third. That decision made, we’ve had two November babies, so we figured why mess with a system we know works and looked to February 2020 to get things rolling. 

You know what they say about the best laid plans…

The early months

When we found out about our little bundle of joy in late February, COVID-19 was still a relatively minor news story, a problem far removed from our community. I made my 8-week appointment with my OB and went about my life as usual.

Well, the world turned upside down on March 12th. When I went by myself (no visitors permitted) to my first OB appointment on the 20th, the entire experience was changed. Fortunately, everything looked good with the baby (due November 5th, my oldest’s 6th birthday!), so no worries there, but I had a sinking feeling that this pregnancy would be a bumpier ride.

I do have to say that I’m grateful that we already have two kids. I appreciate having a frame of reference for what a pregnancy in “normal” times looks like, despite not having entirely normal pregnancies since our oldest was born with bilateral clubfeet, which was diagnosed at his 20-week sonogram. My familiarity with pregnancy is a foundation that has brought me much needed stability since I’ve had fewer check-ups this go-round and have had to venture to all of them alone. 

Halfway there

I’m currently 22 weeks along. We know our tiebreaker is a boy, and he’s doing great. In fact, his very existence has made him a guardian of sorts for our family. Because of the pregnancy, we’ve been operating with an abundance of caution since mid-March. We’ve been wearing masks in public from the beginning, left our house sparingly, and only seen family and friends outdoors with as much distancing as you can enforce with a three-year-old and a five-year-old. I have only set foot in public spaces when medically or absolutely necessary. While we are people who would take the threat of COVID-19 seriously regardless of pregnancy, our baby boy has made us even more thoughtful in our decision making and mindful of risk.

Another thing about me is that I struggle with depression and anxiety. However, I guess I’m a mental health unicorn in some respects because growing a human being balances my mental wellness. With all three of my pregnancies, my anxiety has been low, my depression only mildly intermittent, and my need for medication all but gone. I’m lucky. I know that. I say this because the months ahead will probably test that balance much more than the previous weeks. 

What’s to come

My mind is starting to feel heavier. With the CDC officially adding pregnant women to the list of those at high risk pertaining to COVID-19, the weight of so many questions, fears, and unknowns are chipping away at my typical pregnant positivity. 

I teach high school English part-time at a small K-12 private school. Despite all of the measures being taken to ensure safety, will I be safe? My husband is an administrator and teacher at a private high school. Will he be safe? Will our return to in-person work jeopardize my safety or even the pregnancy itself?

Just like all kids, ours thrive with the stability and structure school offers. What are we opening up our home to by sending our son (who is on the autism spectrum and desperately needs peer interaction) to kindergarten and our daughter back to her nurturing, stimulating preschool?

I’ve had two c-sections. Our son’s was unplanned, but non-emergent, and since I’m a do-what-I-know kind of person, we had a scheduled c-section with our daughter. Come November with what I fear will be another spike in cases, will my husband be able to be with me as our son is born? The issue for us isn’t whether he’ll be allowed by the hospital, it’s more about us allowing family to be inside our home with the kids while both of us are away. Not to mention, who knows what things will look like that far down the road.

Coping

While I can’t take comfort in the certainty I relied on with our first two kids, I can (to a degree) choose my response to all of this chaos and adjust my mindset accordingly. I can’t control much when we’re not in a pandemic, so focusing on the day-to-day right in front of my face is going to have to suffice for now. 

My heart aches for first-time mothers as well as those families trying to conceive whose journeys have been thrown into disarray. So much joy and anticipation has been robbed from all of us, especially those who can’t call up memories of a bygone pregnancy with concerns (cold cuts, caffeine, etc.) that now seem so much more trivial.

We don’t know what the future holds in a broader sense, but as we said in our pregnancy announcement on social media, “In uncertain times, we seek to find joy, and coming this fall is a baby boy!”

When times feel darkest during this strange season, I will continue to strive for the light ahead.

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Claire made her way to Kansas City after graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she met her husband Scott (a KC native and Mizzou grad). Both are high school educators; she teaches English while he often schools her in history. They live in Olathe with their two small children -- Evan 5 & Abbie 3. Claire regularly spends time advocating for early childhood education/intervention and is always looking for ways to become more civically engaged. She loves cheering on the Huskers and the Royals, date nights, reading five books at once, writing, contemplating the deeper issues of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and listening to her kids giggle together. Catch some of those giggles on Instagram @clairebear_kc.