If it’s not weird enough being 42 and pregnant (which is PLENTY WERID, my friends), I am old and pregnant in the middle of a global pandemic, which takes weird to a whole new level. Can’t go anywhere. Can’t see anyone. Need PPE to go to the midwife’s office. SO WEIRD.
I mean, listen, if I am being fair, it’s not all bad. There are some benefits to being a shut-in pregnant lady:
- It doesn’t matter that I gave away all of my maternity clothes after my last baby (SEVEN AND A HALF YEARS AGO) because I have nowhere to be. In fact, I have a quarantine capsule wardrobe that consists of like 3 t-shirts, a pair of jeans, some yoga pants, an awkwardly large pair of non maternity denim cut-offs leftover from who knows when, and a few dresses that still fit my enormous again hips. WHAT MORE DO I NEED?
- I am a stress eater from way back. No matter what, pandemic anxiety and the constant worry about groceries (How far in advance do I have to order for a pick-up time? Where else can I place a drive-up order when my favorite store is out of essentials? What will my family eat for 7 straight dinners two weeks from now because that’s how far in the future I need to plan to avoid setting foot inside a store?) would lead me to gain some serious poundage. And now? I CAN BLAME IT ON THE BABY. (Who weighs like 2 pounds MAYBE.)
- I finally have time to take all of the naps. (In theory. The FOUR OTHER KIDS in my house who need help with school interfere as best they can, but my nap desire is strong and sometimes unthwarted despite their efforts).
- NO MOAR SPORTSBALL. This would be a pro even if I weren’t gestating, but packing up all of the food for baseball park picnics and running four kids to 16 different teams, clubs, and practices every week is especially exhausting when you are carrying twenty or so extra pounds of
Oreos and buttered toastbaby.
But, when I take off the rose-colored glasses, there are some pretty major drawbacks to being pregnant in a pandemic:
- Trips to the midwife’s office are scary. I try to get the first appointment of the morning, and I always wear a mask, avoid touching anything, use lots of hand sanitizer, and take a shower as soon as I get home. But still, my midwives practice in a large clinic that sees all kinds of patients, and while we are all asked screening questions about illness and exposure at the front door, It’s basically a scout’s honor kind of policy.
- This pregnancy feels really lonely because I haven’t seen any of my friends outside my computer screen for over sixty days. I know this would be a lonely time if I were not pregnant, but pregnancy is such a community experience that it’s jarring to go it alone. I want to be annoyed that people are touching my belly, you know?
- I might have to deliver the baby alone. Our nearby family is working outside the home and in contact with other people without the ability to isolate at home before I am due, and we are not open to expanding our quarantine bubble to other people who might not have been sheltering in place as stringently as we have because we are worried about germs and a new baby. In theory, my oldest could watch his siblings so my husband could come to the hospital with me, but labors can be long and unpredictable, and right now, I am not sure the stress of worrying about the kids would make the benefit of having my partner there worth it. (I am a big old hippie who does med–free hypno-birthing and hopes to have this baby in the water, so I don’t mind laboring by myself because the way I do it is pretty internally focused. But STILL—how strange to have my husband NOT THERE when his daughter is born).
- I have SO MUCH anxiety about the baby’s birth. What if one of us gets exposed in the hospital? What if something goes wrong, and I am there by myself? What if I am not ready to go home to the chaos of 4 kids and full-time working-from-home spouse as fast as I am discharged? What if my state sees a huge spike in cases between now and the end of the summer because our safer at home order has been lifted, and it is literally not safe to deliver at a hospital?
I know that a lot of this is simply catastrophizing, and drinking lots of water, getting plenty of exercise, doing prenatal yoga every day and dabbling in meditation have all helped quiet the what-ifs. I recommend them to all of my fellow pregnancy pandemic moms and anyone who feels uncertain during this weird epoch.
The biggest blessing of being pregnant in a pandemic is having something to look forward to—a gurgling little light at the end of this isolated tunnel. We always call pregnant women expectant mothers, and I FINALLY get what that means. I am waiting excitedly for a literal bundle of joy, and, in that regard, she couldn’t be coming at a better time.