There are a lot of articles out about pregnancy during the coronavirus crisis, and I’ve gotten one or two sympathetic comments from friends about how it must be hard, and seen a few comments on Facebook about how relieved people are their pregnancy was not during this time.
… I don’t feel that way, and I’m guessing most pregnant women don’t feel that way, which is probably not really a surprise. It’s probably different being that this is my second pregnancy, so we did get to do everything normally the first time. Anyway here’s what it has been like for us.
Late December: Positive pregnancy test after strong suspicions that I was pregnant due to familiar symptoms. At this point everything was normal and there was no sign of the coronavirus.
December to March: Absolute exhaustion and just a constant sick-like feeling. Spent most weekends in bed. Again, nothing coronavirus-specific. First ultrasound in mid-February, so a friend came to watch Littlest and we both went.
March: Miraculously, my parents managed to come and spend a week with us the first week of March and left a week before France announced school closures and lockdown. Still we didn’t really know what we were in for.
Mid-March: Maternity wards started sometimes forbidding any accompanying person from the hospital. Most backtracked to allowing the partner or other parent to be there for labor and two hours after the birth, but then not allowing them to remain for the hospital stay. A typical hospital stay in France lasts 72 hours after the birth if all goes well, and there’s no C-section. Hospitals started letting mothers out as soon as they reasonably could.
I did freak out in a minor way about the thought of J not being there with me during labor, mostly because this time I do not want an epidural, and I was skeptical about the amount of support available from over-worked hospital staff in order to help me achieve that goal. I eventually calmed down about it, but also, hospitals seemed to be loosening that rule as soon as they could.
Late April: Second ultrasound. J had to stay home with Littlest as no accompanying people were allowed at the midwife’s office (so far I have been doing everything at midwife’s offices and not at the hospital). So I found out that it was a baby boy by myself. Then once the midwife had checked everything out (well almost, since baby was particularly uncooperative and I actually had to go back yesterday), we video called J and Littlest to tell them the news and show them the ultrasound screen. Emotionally this was all fine. Again, it’s our second time. And going to the ultrasound alone seemed so much less terrible than doing the birth alone.
So here we are today. I am still so grateful we got pregnant when we did, because I was so ready for this baby and didn’t want long months of trying and being disappointed. It has been strange that no one has seen be become more and more visibly pregnant. I sent a picture to my colleagues the other day. I didn’t even have time to tell everyone at work that I was expecting before vacation and then lockdown hit! I’ve told the few colleagues I had video conferences with for the union, but that’s only 15 out of over 100 people.
I’m not focusing for now on the unknowns around the delivery, birth, and return home. My plan was (is?) for my mom to come. I wanted her to be here before there was much risk of the baby arriving, because I’m worried he’ll come faster than Littlest in the middle of the night, which means no time to waste. We’ll have to find a back-up plan. I’m worried about having to rely on my in-laws if my mom can’t come for the first few weeks, but I do think some focused communication efforts could make that work. I’m a little sad that Littlest probably won’t be able to come to the hospital to meet his little brother and will have to wait till we come home—but that does seem minor, since that is something some families have always done.
So there have been small losses, but nothing so far that compares to the excitement of expecting someone new in the family. I do worry about the post-partum phase, because that was hard last time. But hopefully it won’t last long and I will know more what kind of help I need and how to ask directly for it. (It’s just, you know, no one compares to your mom, at least mine who was very good at anticipating needs).