One year ago, I had a miscarriage. My husband and I had not intended to conceive. In fact, we had an eleven-month-old baby, and the thought of another pregnancy was terrifying. Our anxiety over balancing two babies did not last long. The ensuing cycle of relief, regret, sadness, and guilt left me with a firm conviction that our family wasn’t done growing. I may have been on the fence about a third baby before the miscarriage, but after, I was sure that I wanted that baby. Now, as our youngest is about to turn two, that little twig in my brain has snapped, saying, “Yes! Now it’s time! Bring on the baby!” But because of COVID, we won’t.
Why we are putting our family on hold because of COVID.
The COVID-19 global pandemic is scary and has had widespread economic, social, and emotional consequences. We have been living in unprecedented times for nearly a year. At least now, with vaccines on the brink of approval, we have hope of a future where we can find some kind of normal. But until then, pregnancy is out of the question.
I don’t want my husband to be left out; it’s his baby too.
The biggest deterrent for me is the limitation on “plus ones” in medical settings. While I understand the rationale for limiting visitors, I cannot imagine a pregnancy and birth without my tribe. The idea that my husband would not be there holding my hand as together we heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time is unacceptable to me. I need that hand for those miraculous moments that are fundamental to our family. I also need that hand in case things go wrong and decisions have to be made. And he needs and deserves to be there too. It is just as much his baby as mine.
We really needed our momtourage.
The visitation policies in place also mean my momtourage would not be able to visit me in the hospital. The initial postpartum period is really hard. In addition to the high level of care a newborn requires, I was also recovering from the trauma of pregnancy and labor. My husband is a champion, but he needed support too. Our moms were how we made that work. They would tag in so that my better half could shower, nap, and procure food. They would hold and rock the baby so I could get an extra hour of sleep. They fed us and cared for our other daughter. We are so blessed to have intense family support to help get us through the early days, and the thought of losing that reinforces my decision to put things on hold. And what if we were quarantined with a newborn and our two other young children without any additional family support? Unthinkable.
COVID-19 is especially scary for pregnant women.
We have all seen the heartbreaking stories on Facebook of mom and baby being separated because of COVID. I am already afraid of medical settings because of the potential risk of exposure. (Scratch that, I am already afraid of going into public for any reason at this point due to the risks of exposure. Our community’s ICU beds are almost at capacity, and we are not out of the woods yet.)
Then add pregnancy on top of that, requiring additional doctor’s visits and the general risk of complications that come with any pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, “pregnancy increases the risk for severe illness with COVID-19. Pregnant women who have COVID-19 appear more likely to develop respiratory complications requiring intensive care than women who aren’t pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pregnant women are also more likely to be placed on a ventilator.”
I don’t want to go into the unknown.
There is a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus. And there is even more that we don’t know about its effect on pregnancy and unborn babies. I don’t want to forge ahead without knowing the risks. This is scary enough. I don’t have the emotional capacity for any more.
So…I am sorry Baby. I hope I get to meet you one day. I miss you and love you, but for now, you have to wait.