I remember staring in shock at my pregnancy test. It was March of 2020, and the pandemic had finally made it’s way to the U.S. states and territories. I had been so busy at work managing multiple projects and then jumping into the intial pandemic response that I had missed all the tell-tale signs.
The brain fog, lethargy, increasing irritability. All things I had blamed on work and the impending doom and gloom of COVID-19. How the heck was I going to make it through this pandemic with first responder responsibilities, children, and now a pregnancy.
I’m not going to lie to you — 2020 was the most challenging year of my entire life. It brought the need for self-care to a whole other level. Here’s what I learned about being pregnant during a pandemic.
Things I Absolutely Weren’t Prepared For
Delayed anxiety response to events. As an expecting mom, you worry about everything. You have to learn what foods to avoid and what to eat more of. You need to check on whether that one glass of wine is really okay. And you learn to be extra vigilant about avoiding people during the flu season.
Being pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic put my anxiety on overdrive. On top of all the regular worries, now here’s the threat of a new, dangerous bug to try to keep away from myself and my child. I would say my regular pregnancy anxiety definitely doubled this time around.
But how it often manifested was different than before. Because I had to keep it together to maintain life and sanity for my kids, I ended up shuffling all of my emotions away from sight in a secret little box in my head. And ever so often, the box will overflow, and the overwhelm would literally take my breath away.
My advice to you is not to do this. Find a way to process the emotions you are going through every single day. These are tough times, and we really need to do more to take care of ourselves and reach for support from others.
Devastating loss of community. One of the best things about being pregnant is sharing your news with family and other loved ones. People want touch and hold you. Little ones love feeling the baby kick. There are parties, photoshoots, and showers and other various forms of celebrations.
Unfortunately, COVID almost completely wiped that away. The sense of community and togetherness created by an unborn child was stifled by the requirements of social distancing. I have never felt as isolated during a pregnancy as I had this last year.
Each of my pregnancies was a huge deal! I visited people and had visitors often. Even at birth my room was filled with family and a friend or two. And as soon as my child was vaccinated (yes, I’m THAT mom), I made sure to place them in the arms of many loved ones for previously forbidden hugs, snuggles, and photoshoots.
I missed my pregnancy and birth routines cultivated to create connections with my little one and my loved ones.
What I wished I had done differently was to get over my dislike of the phone and disinterest in social media to share more of my days while pregnant with my friends. If you’re a pregnant mom reading this, consider doing these things if you aren’t already. And maybe zoom video party calls with your loved ones. It really does make a difference.
Things I Got Secretly Depressed About
Visiting the doctor by myself. Because of my husband’s high risk job, and because of the limitations put into place at various businesses, I went to every single one of my doctor’s appointments by myself. Every OBGYN visit, ultrasound visit, lab visits . . . everything.
Of course, if I absolutely needed his support at any one of those events, we would have found a way to make it work. But we couldn’t justify unnecessarily exposing others to COVID for simple checkups. And it was also more important for him to stay with our older children.
Instead, I recorded and sent him pictures anytime I could.
Still, if you’re unable to go to visits with your partner or supportive loved one, consider recording the events. Take tons of pictures of you in the lobby, in the waiting room before the doctor comes in, leaving the appointment. And make sure to record the ultrasound and first time hearing the heartbeat of your little one.
Don’t underestimate how these little things can help buffer the distance a bit.
Needing little to no maternity clothes. This could be seen as a plus by more frugal moms. But, I absolutely love being pregnant, and wearing maternity clothes is so much fun. Unfortunately, with all the limitations on social distancing and the ability to work from home, there was no way to really justify a new wardrobe.
Instead, I had six solid pieces of clothing I mixed and match to get me through my pregnancy. I had four dresses, two sleeveless tops, and two stretch pants. And I hardly got to wear any of them, wearing one dress only about five times, mainly to appointments.
I relied a lot on accessories to change up my looks, and think I did a pretty great job. But, looking back, I could’ve bought a couple more outfits, even if to wear at home.
My advice to you if you’re in this predicament is to not be wary of dressing up and looking your best at home. Rather than see it as a waste of money, I should have seen it as an opportunity to pamper myself and celebrate my little one. I probably would have had the desire to take and share more pictures if I had done so in the first place.
The #1 Thing That Made Me Smile
People who love you always find a way. This was a very different pregnancy than my two previous experiences. As I mentioned, one of the biggest things for me is folding into my community during pregnancy. And while I hate being put in the spotlight, I always enjoy looking back on my baby shower events.
But, just because we couldn’t have a traditional baby shower doesn’t mean I didn’t celebrate with my friends.
Although my husband is terrible at secrets, he worked with a good friend of mine to plan a drive-by baby shower! I knew something was going, but had no idea what the event really was.
Following instructions, I got dressed up, and stood by the door. Soon, along with the sound of celebratory music, I heard the tell-tale tooting of horns as a motorcade of cars driven by my best of friends drove down my street.
They had made a lovely banner, and dropped off cake, cookies, and gifts for the baby. They came in masks and with sanitizers to quickly share their love and well-wishes before heading back home for the day. I was touched beyond belief at how thoughtful, kind, and considerate they all were.
So don’t you worry too much. Because even if the worst of times, the people you love can find little ways to help you keep your spirits up.
What about you? Did you or a loved one experience pregnancy and a birth during the pandemic? Comment below and share your own experience and advice.