First-time motherhood is hard. Motherhood is hard no matter how many children you have, including step-children. It’s just as terrifying each time, as each child bears new challenges. However, it is totally worth it. As a first time mom, you are reborn yourself the moment your baby is born. You’re no longer just a woman—you are a mother. And that comes with more responsibility than you can ever prepare yourself for. You are no longer a priority, and that’s a choice you make at the start of each new day.
Giving birth to your first child during a pandemic is even harder. Even if you are a mother, it’s something you simply cannot understand unless you’ve experienced it yourself. I was five months pregnant when COVID-19 first hit the U.S. in January 2020. We didn’t know how long the pandemic would last, and we definitely weren’t prepared for the restrictions that we were hit with. But I was one of the lucky few to have my husband with me at each appointment.
No one really knew much about the virus at this point, though. And I was terrified for my baby, myself, and my family. The effects on an unborn child were unknown or how the virus would even affect a baby in the womb. The pandemic created a completely new set of stressors and a whole load of anxiety, to say the least. I canceled the baby shower I was so looking forward to for fear of being exposed to the virus, so my son has the decorations taped into his baby book with a list of people that we wanted to be there. We weren’t able to stock up on all of the normal things that expecting families do—baby wipes, hand sanitizer, hand soap, disinfecting wipes, etc. I didn’t go anywhere or do anything. I didn’t visit my friends, and seldom did I allow visitors in my home. I didn’t get to show off my baby bump. I was literally scared to do anything but stay home because I didn’t want to put my pregnancy at risk. Everyone thought I was crazy. Even though we had family supporting us, many times my husband and I felt alone. It was the most important and special thing I’ve ever experienced, but we didn’t feel like we could share it the way we wanted to. I spent my time home alone writing every detail of my pregnancy down for my son to read one day.
The real terror set in the morning my water broke. My baby had been safe inside of my belly for nine months, and he was about to enter into a world where I couldn’t give him that same level of protection. Suddenly everything was very real. I was about to give birth for the first time, and I wouldn’t be allowed to have my family there to support me. I didn’t even know for sure whether or not they would allow my husband to be with me. Not to mention being scared to death that somehow, someway, I may have unknowingly contracted COVID, even though I was as careful as I could possibly be. I knew they tested all patients upon admission, and if I tested positive, they would separate me from my baby. By the grace of God, I am fortunate enough to have an incredible, super man of a husband who seemed to make the experience a breeze–or close to it, anyway.
My baby was born into a world full of masked faces and smiles that he only gets to see from immediate family members. I felt safe in the hospital because everyone took precautions to keep us safe. In a way, I was scared to come home. Postpartum depression was no longer my biggest fear, being exposed was. Then you have those who are offended when you don’t invite them in to see the new baby, as well as those who are invited and take absolutely no precautions to keep you and your baby safe—almost as if we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic and you’re simply paranoid and overprotective. While this country is facing a time of protests, riots, and a pandemic, we’re being called overprotective, overdramatic, and told to “calm down”. It was like everyone around us was experiencing a “fear of missing out” and we were experiencing fear of contracting COVID while actually missing out. We quickly realized that there were far too many people who weren’t taking the virus seriously.
Becoming a mother is the most incredible experience in the world. But I’ll admit it feels like I’ve been robbed of so many great experiences and traditions due to this pandemic. Fortunately, I documented every step of my pregnancy. All of the appointments, measurements, and of course the weekly bump photos. But it seems like that’s the only real documentation I have, because I chose to isolate and protect myself and my baby. He hasn’t had the same opportunities and experiences that babies born in previous years have had. His Dad hasn’t been able to come with us to any of his doctors appointments, not even his very first one.