A lot has happened since my last blog post over a year ago and the world looks very different.
Last Thanksgiving David and I found out that I was pregnant. We were thrilled. I initially had some concerns since I’m not young by pregnancy standards (35), but once we made it through the first 12 weeks, I began to breathe easier and let myself plan for the baby.
The first half of my pregnancy went smoothly and was pretty uneventful. Then COVID happened. I’d been closely following the news about the virus since I first heard about it in January. By the end of February I was getting really worried and David and I started taking small precautions. Our state shut down in the middle of March.
My doctors weren’t sure what kind of risk the virus could pose to pregnant women or babies, so we did everything we could to lower my chance of exposure. We were both lucky enough to be able to work from home. We stopped going to crowded places or making unnecessary trips out to stores. We did all our shopping online or through curbside orders. If we absolutely had to go into a store, David went and wore a mask. I visited with friends sitting far apart on my front lawn. During our maternity photo session our photographer took pictures and gave direction from a distance.
In March, my doctor stopped allowing spouses and partners to attend appointments. David had been by my side at every appointment and scan. Fortunately we had our 20 week anatomy ultrasound two weeks before the lockdown and he was able to be there for it. For the rest of the pregnancy I went to doctor appointments alone. It really wasn’t so bad until I started having complications.
Around 32 weeks I developed preeclampsia. My blood pressure was consistently high and my liver functions were elevated. I was put on modified bedrest and had to go in two times a week so the baby and I could be monitored. I knew every time I went to an appointment that there was a chance they would send me to the hospital. I was anxious and having David there would have been ideal. Thankfully I was able to call him during those appointments so he could be informed and be involved in the decisions that were made. And the reality is, even without COVID he wouldn’t have been able to take off work two times a week to come to all those appointments with me.
At 35 weeks my liver functions continued to rise. My doctor warned me that if they kept going up, I would have to be hospitalized for round the clock monitoring. She also told me that I’d probably have to be induced in less than a week.
I panicked. I didn’t want to deliver before 36 weeks. We wanted the baby to have as much time as possible to grow and develop, especially his lungs. I had two competing fears – fear for my health if we continued the pregnancy and fear for our son if he was born early. I checked my blood pressure several times a day, was on full bed rest, and watched for any of the warning signs that my preeclampsia had progressed to a dangerous level.
Somehow when I went in for my next appointment, my liver functions had stabilized. I didn’t need to be induced before 36 weeks and I was able to wait out the rest of my pregnancy at home. My doctor continued to monitor me closely and my tests remained stable. I went into labor on my own at 38 weeks and 2 days. Making it to 38 weeks was a milestone we hadn’t thought was possible and we were so happy to make it that far.
Due to COVID, our hospital implemented a lot of new policies. The only one that concerned me was their protocol to separate mother and baby after birth if a mother tested positive for the virus. You could refuse to be separated, but it would be against medical advice. The policy made no sense to me because they’d let the mother take the baby home days after birth. It was not a 14 day quarantine. So why separate them at all? It was a huge relief when my test came back negative.
Once we were admitted, we were confined to our room and had to wear masks during and after labor. Wearing a mask was honestly the least of our worries, and wasn’t too bad until my labor progressed. At some point I ripped my mask off. I don’t even remember doing it. After the delivery I put it back on and apologized to the nurses and doctor for ripping it off. They assured me it happened during a lot of the deliveries and that they understood.
My labor did not go as planned and I am so thankful David was able to be by my side the entire time. I know women who were unable to have their support person present for their labors because of the pandemic and had to do it all alone. There is no way I could have gotten through it without David. He was my rock when I was scared and exhausted.
Theodore was born on July 25, 2020. He was healthy and didn’t have to spend any time in the NICU. Meeting him and getting to spend that golden hour together just the three of us was incredible. In that moment nothing else mattered and I’d never been happier.
We had to stay in the hospital for 3 days. I was going stir crazy confined in our little room and could not wait to get discharged. The original plan was to have my mom visit to help when we got home from the hospital, but that was canceled because of COVID. Even if she quarantined for two weeks beforehand so not to expose us, we worried we could be exposed in the hospital and didn’t want to risk bringing it home to her. Instead, David and I learned as much as we could about taking care of a baby from the nurses and figured out the rest together when we got home.
In the grand scheme of things we have been so fortunate. Theodore is a happy and healthy baby, none of us have had COVID, and our families are healthy. David was present for all the big appointments in the beginning of my pregnancy, and most importantly, he was by my side when Theodore was born. This year certainly hasn’t gone how any of us thought it would. Through it all, I am so thankful to have had David by my side and to have Theodore in our lives.