I Did Not Plan to Be Pregnant in a Pandemic.
This is the title of an article that came across my social media newsfeed the other day. It drew my attention since I have been experiencing mixed emotions with being pregnant during these uncertain times.
I’ve been told by other mothers that although it is important to have a birth plan, it is also important to be flexible because the plan usually doesn’t go accordingly. This pandemic is already demonstrating the importance of being able to adapt because just like many things with labor and pregnancy, there was no way to prepare for what is the new norm in the world now.
At first, I thought that this pandemic would pass sooner rather than later. Some might call me naive, I’d call it hopeful and optimistic. Not even a week into this craziness and I can already tell that the later will be happening. At 23 weeks I’m almost nearing the end of the second trimester, which will lead me to the start of my third trimester. Like the article I mentioned above, the third trimester is when my doctor appointments are scheduled every other week rather than once a month. After that, they will be every week until the arrival of this beautiful baby. These appointments, although also at times scary and nerve-wracking, were also full of excitement to see baby’s growth and to hear how things are progressing. Now some of that excitement is gone. Instead of the excitement the panic and fear sets in that, I will be leaving my home, where I’ve been isolating myself from exposure, into a hospital that is exposed. I find myself torn between wanting to keep myself and my unborn baby safe, to wanting to see the doctor, but afraid of who and what has been exposed. After all – hospitals are where people go when they are experiencing symptoms.
Every day I see the numbers of infected individuals increase around the world, in my country, in my state, and even in my county. By the time I’m going to the hospital, those numbers will increase even more. I would say the worst part of this is that there aren’t any answers. Yes, many people have told me that being pregnant puts me more at risk, but if you do the research there aren’t really studies to prove this. I understand wanting to error on the side of caution but the unknown is what gets to me the most. No one really knows how COVID-19 will affect expecting mothers and the growing fetus so we also do not really know how to respond to it.
In the past few days, I’ve been thinking more into the future than trying to find daily activities to get through each day in my house while my husband is at work. I’ve thought of baby showers that will now be canceled, the shortage of essentials that my baby will need such as thermometers, baby wipes, and other staples that are now limited, and the baby classes and massages that I wanted to enjoy that I will no longer be able to. I had breastfeeding classes, a tour of the birthing center, and labor skill classes all on my agenda that now are in limbo.
Since we also don’t even know how long this pandemic will last it has me anxious about the arrival of my baby. I always envisioned a relaxing stay at the hospital and inviting all of our family and friends to visit to welcome our new addition. However, with all of the quarantining, social distancing, and small groups of people that are required this has me concerned. Is my baby going to only know my husband and me until others self-quarantine for 14 days before they can greet our bundle of joy? It’s not ideal, but if it’s what safest for the baby it’ll be what’s needed.
I am a woman of faith though and I full-heartedly believe that God has a plan. God gifted my husband and me with this beautiful baby and he has something in store for it. I intend to see what that plan is. Obviously I hope that the plan is that we bring this baby safely into this world, despite everything that’s going on. I need to continue to trust and pray that he will help me relieve my stress and anxious thoughts and take each day as it is. Trust his plan, that’s all I can do while keeping myself and my baby as safe and healthy as possible.
My husband has said that everyone else is worried for me and baby because I am not worried enough myself. I am worried though, I mentioned all of my worries and concerns earlier. I choose not to focus on these worries though because they are out of my control. Worrying will not serve me and my baby will feel the stress, which is also not helpful. I continue to choose to have hope and faith in the future instead.
One way I help myself focus on the positives over the negatives is to be mindful of when my baby moves. Every time my baby moves I am reminded of the strength, power, and determination my baby has. My baby is ALIVE and I choose to continue to be alive to the best of my ability rather than to isolate and avoid. I’m not saying I am going to put myself out there into big groups of people, but I choose to not over-worry and to not be overcautious because it mentally and emotionally doesn’t help me.
I also know through my training and expertise as a mental performance consultant that if we allow ourselves to fall victim to our negative “what if” thoughts that they will continue to grow and take up all of our focus and will lead to anxiety. This anxious thought will consume us and impact how we act and dictate our decisions moving forward. I choose not to be consumed with doubt, worry, and anxiety. Just like in athletics, if you are unable to be self-aware and to buy into to these anxious “what-if” thoughts it will only end up being detrimental to your performance. Just as I teach and remind athletes and teams to be aware and re-construct their negative and anxious self-talk, I must do the same. I want to provide my baby with a healthy environment that is as stress-free as I can make it, especially in a time where the world is experiencing more stress and unknown than normal.
To all of the expecting mothers out there during this challenging time – you’ve got this. You will come out of this even stronger than before, which will be important for your baby to witness. Your child will also become stronger from this experience as well. Even your relationship with your partner will become stronger as you navigate the path of parenthood together during these uncertain times. Parenthood is full of uncertainty and challenges. Think of this pandemic as just another one of those things that parents overcome together for the sake of their child.
Together we’ve got this.