New Life in the Midst of a Pandemic

Note: This post is raw in terms of how I feel as a newborn mother in the midst of a pandemic. My fears may not be your fears. Our locations, fears, comfortability with risk, and health is all different- and all should be valued. This post is in no way shape or form promoting one thing while condemning the next. This post is just me sharing my heart to you. I know my imperfect words as an imperfect human could never fully encompass the gravity of life today, but please know they are filled with the best of intentions and compassion for all. I chose to write this post because each day I receive dozens of DMs or e-mails from new moms navigating this pandemic. Through conversation, I have found that we all may have different views and actions, but our hearts all feel the same heaviness. This is me saying, “Solidarity, sister.”

I lightly hinted at this post yesterday, as I gushed over our new porch swing. I won’t lie, my palms are a little sweaty writing this. Normally, when I write from the heart, I feel like I have a conclusion to my post. There’s an introduction to my thoughts, ideas about them, and a generally lighthearted conclusion. This post? This post has no conclusion. This post has no outlined points. This post is me having a socially distant coffee date with you. Some things may not make sense. You may disagree with some thoughts. But goodness, I hope you know I write this post so that any other woman feeling these same feelings gets a virtual hug through my words.

On Monday, I lost it over COVID. 
Full on, bawling to my husband at midnight lost it. The kind of moment where you think, “Thank the Lord, I am married to such an understanding human being. Because this is the ugly part of me I hate showing.”

Call me naive, but I never considered living through a pandemic. I think medical professionals are unbelievably brilliant. Science is not my forté and anyone that has dedicated their life and career to it, is a hero in my book. I just never thought this would happen. It feels embarrassing to admit that, but it didn’t feel like it could ever happen.

Now, I need to preface this post by explaining my personality a bit. I’m a cautious person. I calculate risk in everything I do. I had postpartum driving anxiety with Maxi. I don’t ride rollercoasters. I’m not an adventurous person. Each time I receive a birthday invitation I think in my head, “Ehh, lots of kids. Maxi is bound to get sick. Is the following week a week in which our family could afford to get sick? Do we have any family gatherings the following few days in which we could potentially infect my mom?” {My mom has RA, and a simple stomach virus can land her in the hospital, so I am always mindful of germs and infecting others.} I’m also a rule follower. I’m a homebody. My husband jokes I’m a model quarantine citizen.

But in January, my husband started talking about COVID and the attention it deserved. His friend works in infectious disease research, and he’d call him daily. When a box of masks arrived to our doorstep in the beginning of February, I thought he had some crazy home project planned. He told me that I’d need them for my OB appointments, once masks were inevitably required. “Required masks?! WHAT are you talking about?” I asked. Mid-February, he told me to call all of my friends that formula-fed their babies. He wanted me to tell them to make sure they grabbed an extra can at the store, to space out and not stockpile. He told me people would go nuts and clear stores out which was not good or helpful to anyone. He wanted me to remind them, so that they wouldn’t contribute to that. I remember calling a friend to say that and she was like, “Wait, for what?!” I blushed thinking my husband was being silly. He told me, “I promise you, travel will shutdown. The world is going to shut down, just trust me.” When I started receiving formula cans in the mail {companies will send them sometimes when you sign up for pregnancy apps, etc.} he made sure I gave them to any moms that needed them. Again, I thought my husband was being a bit much. I thought, “Gosh a firstborn married to a firstborn. We are TOO prepared.”

I was on and off bedrest when COVID came to America and to be honest, I wasn’t in shock. I hadn’t exactly been frequenting places all too often, since my hemorrhages started in January. I kind of thought, “Okay! My husband will be home to help with our toddler while I’m in bed.” And then we started talking about flattening the curve. My ears perked up. But again, I wasn’t in shock. My husband told me this would happen. I still felt positive, I was having a precious baby. It would all be okay. I was so lucky to quarantine at home with those I love.

Let’s fast-forward the next few months because y’all already know what happened. My job started to change- a LOT. I isolated before giving birth. I went the longest time in my life without seeing my mom. I birthed a baby in a mask without visitors- with an epidural not fully taking, let me add. ha. I navigated the fourth trimester with COVID. I talked to my pediatrician in-depth, looking at studies, on if Maxi should return to preschool.

While it felt heavy, it didn’t feel surprising. And again, I still felt positive, because these are privileges, and my perspective is that we are healthy, home, and beyond lucky. Children are a blessing, navigating this with them is just life. My husband is the calmest person you’ll ever meet {he’s a planner and thinks ahead, but the man is calm to an outrageous degree. Opposites attract. 😉 } so it kept me calm. But Monday, Monday hit me hard.

Maxi has to have something done at the dentist for her gums. I had already canceled an appointment due to COVID and called to reschedule. The receptionist let me know that I couldn’t bring any siblings. I explained that my husband was back to work, my mom was having surgery the prior week, and I had a 3-month old. I asked if I could just wear him in a baby wrap, while I was masked. Again, the answer was, “No.” I don’t blame them. I get the rules. Everyone has to make rules to keep others safe, and also protect themselves. I get it. But it did feel confusing. So it is suggested I open up “our circle” more by having a babysitter hold my baby, while I take my other child to the dentist? It felt like this is the new normal, and I didn’t want this to be the new normal. I’m tired of hearing people say they feel this is “back to normal” when we all have an underlying sense of confusion and concern.

I bawled to my husband that I didn’t sign up to raise children in a pandemic.

I didn’t sign up for this! I didn’t sign up to not see my grandparents so that I can protect them! I didn’t sign up to birth a baby without my mother and sister in the room like they were with Maxi. You go to work, your life feels normal. Mine doesn’t. The few outings I get to Target feel sad, because the distancing combined with people eyeballing you if you bring your toddler inside feels SAD. Scrolling my Facebook feed and seeing people hate each other for navigating risk differently feels sad. I already calculate risk in my daily life without a pandemic. I am tired of calculating it for my children WITH one! What if I make the wrong choice one day? What if I harm my children by isolating or not isolating them enough? I see things black and white, and this is gray. And living in the gray is going to last for YEARS.

And in that moment, I just felt God say that he CHOSE me to raise a child in this. HE CHOSE ME.

Friends, he chose you, too. 

Can you feel the profound weight of that? I do.

I want to tell you right here and right now, this post is not about my opinion on COVID, or rules, or masks, or ANYTHING of that nature. Goodness, I see all sides of this thing and all are hard. Teachers, grocery store workers, hospital workers, small businesses, mothers- I want to just say, this is all freaking hard.

While this post is not that, this post is one human to another human saying, “This is impossible to navigate perfectly, but you were chosen for this by someone perfect.”

Whether you wonder how to navigate a newborn with COVID, you work in a hospital, you are a teacher doing virtual learning or in-person, or you have had to pivot your small business- you can do this.

I have tears in my eyes typing this because the privilege of birthing life when so many have lost their lives, will never escape me me.

We had a family member lose their mother to COVID. And yet here I am, so undeservedly blessed to hold a new life in my arms. But it comes with big feelings, feelings that should be honored and respected.

So often, I want to finish a blog post with helpful tips. I want to have girl talk and remind you that it’s going to be okay. I want to tie it all together and wrap it in a monogrammed bow for you. But I don’t think anyone can do that in 2020.

Instead, I’ll tell you what I did the other night. I wrote a letter to both of my children. There are tear stains on the ink, but I poured my heart out to them. I’m tired of hearing how resilient children are, I wanted to validate their emotions along with mine. So I did just that. I wrote them every single emotion I have. For my darling Maxi, goodness, do I worry about her view of people with masks. I worry about her fears. She told me the other day she needed to wash her eyes because the virus can get in her eyes and I walked out of the room and bawled. That is NOT a fear I want her to have. My mind was racing wondering, “WHEN was the news on and she heard that?!” And for my miracle baby, Harry, I wanted him to know how loved he is. How I mourned the fact he never got to meet family immediately. I mourned the fact his first year of life will be SO different than his sister’s. I wanted him to know we prayed daily asking God, “Help us know which child to make a decision for!” for each and every risk.

And after I wrote this letter to my children, I wrote this post {my letter, per se} to you.

While I know society as a whole recognizes this won’t magically go away one night. I know that one day I will be able to hand these letters to my children. They may not remember this period, but I want them to know that every single choice, decision, and tear I cried was over my concern for them and others. And I wanted them to know that one day, they will parent, work, or live through something they didn’t sign up for. This is life. And it will be their life that God chose them to be born into.

Friend, no matter how you navigate this {worry vs. no worry, high risk vs. low risk} I want you to know you were equipped for this. He knew you were strong enough for this. I’m sure my words have failed me, and my prayer is that my small emotions do not offend anyone that has dealt with a large hurt due to this virus. But this is me virtually hugging you with my words. As you put on your mask and wonder, “Can I attend this if I want to see this person next?” or miss your grandparents or feel heartbroken your wedding was postponed, know that your friend over here is cheering you on. Validating you. Caring for you. Saying you CAN navigate this because you were equipped for this by Him.

There’s no perfect conclusion to this post, we are still writing this journey. But we can pause and honor that this HAS been a journey, and an emotional one. Let’s give as much grace, empathy, and encouragement to others as we can today! And remember, a glass of champagne always helps. 😉

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  1. Arianne wrote:

    This has moved me to tears. I am currently 5 months pregnant and feeling many of these same anxieties. I am making choices daily to allow my 9 year old daughter to attend her piano class whilst mask wearing, but choosing to skip family birthdays because I’m not comfortable with putting my pregnancy at risk for the sake of meeting 10 people at a party. This is tough, there’s no denying it but as you rightly point out, He has chosen these lives for us and our little ones and we will be stronger for it, as were our grandparents for living through the world wars etc.

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  2. Ashley Barbeito wrote:

    This is the perfect blog post for how all new moms and moms with other children feel today and every day for the last few months. Beautifully written

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  3. Maggie Adams wrote:

    I always love reading your posts, but this one takes the cake….absolute tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing your heart. I’m 8.5 months pregnant with my second and your thoughts mirror so much of my own (and our husbands are clearly similar too). Praying for you and your sweet family! Thanks for sharing.

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  4. Talia wrote:

    Bawling through this. As a first time pregnant mama working as an NP in the ER during a pandemic, these were words I’ve been searching for that we’re just what I needed to hear. Thank you ❤️❤️

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  5. Annaliese wrote:

    One of your most beautiful posts ever Katey! I am not a mom but have so much respect for women like you who have navigated pregnancy and birth during this crazy year. It is so hard to find the balance of being grateful for the gifts and blessings we do have and also mourning what’s lost (because all of us have lost big things this year, even if they don’t all look the same). Thank you for sharing your heart! And your kids are so lucky to have you as their mom. 🙂

    xoxo A

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  6. Rosi wrote:

    Wow! You’re such a great writer and I feel the same. This has been difficult to navigate. Like you I am extremely cautious. I am suffering from anxiety now because it gets to me so badly. Hubby and I are still essentially quarantined. We just won’t take the risk. Some days I just want to know when will it end. We just have to keep praying and being diligent. Thank you for your words and here is a hig right back to you.

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  7. Kimm wrote:

    Katey this is beautiful. Xoxo

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  8. Rachel wrote:

    My mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer last year and finished with her treatments right when COVID hit. I’m entering a season of engagement and so even though I am not a sweet momma yet, this post and how you verbalized your fear, concerns, frankly burdens hits close to home, so thank you for being bold and writing this. It brought me to tears and has encouraged me in my moments of weakness during all of this. Something that has kept me looking up when everything around me feels so chaotic is John 14:27, ” Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The simples reminder that we have hope in Christ and that this world and all that it comes with has been overcome.

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  9. Kaitlyn wrote:

    Thank you for writing this amazing post. This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I am planning my wedding, we were supposed to be married in May, now in November. It is HARD, we can only have 50 people, no dancing, masks when not seated. It’s sad and hard and not at all how I imagined my day being. Also, marrying into a large italian family made it harder to cut the list to 50 people. Seeing that He chose me for this path made me cry and is so so beautiful and true. This road isn’t easy, but with Him we can do it! Thank you and God bless!

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  10. Ashley wrote:

    I absolutely love this post. I’m a first time mom who gave birth to twin girls in August and I struggled throughout my pregnancy with not being able to have my husband come to appointments, with not being able to have visitors at the hospital, etc. Then they were in the NICU for two weeks and my husband and I couldn’t visit them together. It’s such a strange time and not at all how I imagined my first pregnancy would be but I also struggled with trying to feel grateful for the fact that two beautiful lives were coming into this world.

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  11. M wrote:

    I immediately teared up when I read “God chose me”. I gave birth to my first baby over the summer. It has been nothing that I expected in these first few months. I know we are incredibly blessed that we are all healthy, that my husband and I have jobs that have allowed us to work from home, that I had already planned on taking an extended maternity leave. But I have moments of feeling so upset at how unfair it is – how unfair that I didn’t get to celebrate with a baby shower, that no one outside of our family has held him, that I got judged for bringing him shopping with me when I wanted to buy some new clothes that actually fit my postpartum body. I love this idea of writing him a letter to capture what’s going on and what we are thinking about in these times. And I will continue to remember that God chose me to be his mom and God knew that it would be during a time unlike any other.

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  12. Quincy wrote:

    Oh, Katey. This hits so close to home. I read this while feeding my 11 month old Annabelle this morning and tears were rolling down my face. I’m in a similar-but-different situation to you, and on Monday also found myself exhausted by all of the impossible decisions we have to make as parents right now. We are very, very lucky to consistent childcare right now. That reason alone makes this pandemic easier on us than most families, and so I feel guilty for even being upset. It’s just a rollercoaster of emotions over here, constantly feeling like I should just shut up and be grateful while also feeling angry that my daughter has to sacrifice so much of her life without even knowing it while also feeling tired and worn out myself from trying to make the most responsible (yet still realistic) decisions possible for our community. It was so encouraging to hear from you on this, and just what I needed to end the week. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  13. Sarah wrote:

    Thank you. Read this while nursing my 3 month old, who hasn’t met her Grandparents yet as they live a plane ride away. I also have a 2 year old and share all the same fears you do. This was beautiful and encouraging, i will remember that God chose me too.

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  14. Sam wrote:

    I was turned away from my six week postpartum OBGYN checkup because I had my six week old baby with me. I understand the rules and am so grateful that I could reschedule for a time I could have family home with the baby, and leave her with a bottle for when I’m gone, but what about the moms that don’t have that support system or a freezer stash so they can go alone? It was so upsetting and I can for sure relate to your story about bringing Harry to the dentist!

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  15. Katie wrote:

    I am crying reading this. It’s exactly what I needed to hear at this moment. I am currently 38 weeks pregnant with my first child, and while usually I am so excited, sometimes it just feels so heavy. Our baby will be the first grandchild, and navigating how to handle visits and questions about how grandparents should prepare is really hard. I truly can’t thank you enough for this post.

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  16. So beautifully written, raw and full of emotion! Thanks for sharing with us, Katey! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  17. Betsy J wrote:

    Beautifully written….. We all needed this today ?
    Thanks Katey?

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  18. Rajal Noorali wrote:

    I’m 5 months pregnant and thank you so much for this post !!!

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  19. Hill wrote:

    Thank you for this! I am pregnant with my first and have been struggling with the thought of bringing a baby into this world during such a scary time. Your words bring me peace.

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  20. I know you helped someone with your words. Thanks for being brave, vulnerable and honest.

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  21. Cherise wrote:

    As a much older follower of your blog, I applaud your candor and know it’s a huge blessing to other young mothers. However, I am appalled that the dentist’s office did not let you bring in a 3 month old child with you. What possible risk could your son carry that you’re not carrying? None. I get not letting another toddler go to an appointment, but a newborn? That’s ridiculous.

    Published 18 Sep 20Reply
  22. Lainy wrote:

    Wow, Katie. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I feel so validated and loved. I had my first baby in August. I bawled because my momma could not even be in the hospital, let alone the delivery room. It all feels unreal. Thank you for sharing your experience and for reminding me how perfectly chosen I was for this time and for my baby.

    Published 19 Sep 20Reply
  23. This is just all of the feelings in one post. Thank you for being so open and honest and expressing all of the feeling so man of us have right now <3

    Published 20 Sep 20Reply
  24. Ashton wrote:

    Such a beautiful post. As a first time momma struggling to know the right choices each day I needed to read this. Thank you! <3

    Published 21 Sep 20Reply
  25. CJ wrote:

    Prayers for you & yours and THANK YOU so much for sharing real feelings and directing readers to God. I honestly don’t know how this would feel if I didn’t believe…that is something I marvel at daily since masks and risk of illness seem to be around for the foreseeable future. I don’t have a baby but I do have a high school senior and it is just as scary…virtual or not…sports or not…best wishes to us all!

    Published 22 Sep 20Reply
  26. Fidi wrote:

    You have me in tears here. Thanks for those words.

    Published 26 Sep 20Reply