This Side of Paradise

the missing piece

#TerribleWritingClub

I decided to join the #TerribleWritingClub. Follow along here from my entries.

The first writing prompt: So, good, bad and/or ugly, how has the pandemic shifted *your* perspective? Are you seeing things differently these days? How is your personal TERRIBLE more or less pronounced in this new reality?

The pandemic is scary, that’s for certain. But being pregnant for the first time during nationwide lockdowns has made it a particularly scary time. However, it’s not without some benefits. That sounds crazy, right?

Before you turn against me, I’ll start with some of the ways COVID has made my first pregnancy tough. For starters, I don’t want to get sick! Not that I would want to even if I weren’t pregnant, but recent research out of Northwestern shows that the virus can cause damage to the placenta. And while the placenta can function at about 50% and cause no harm to the baby (news to me!), it’s still an alarming update to learn about. And, it begs the question: What else do we not know about COVID-19’s impact on pregnancy?

On top of that, my husband hasn’t been able to come to our ultrasounds with me. He made it to our first appointment at eight weeks, when we got to see a little bean on the monitor. But we didn’t get to hear the heartbeat yet. When I went back for our 12-week ultrasound, I went alone. The office allowed me to video call my husband, but reception was no good and the video didn’t come through on his end. And, for some reason, they don’t allow you to record in the ultrasound room. Bummer. This time, the baby actually looked like a baby. And I got to see him jumping around, trying to avoid the tech. Another bonus: I got to hear his heartbeat for the first time.

Next up, we have our 20-week anatomy scan. This isn’t for two more weeks, but it’s unlikely that my husband will be able to attend, even though lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease up in Chicago (for better or worse). I’ve been told this is the most fun ultrasound. The baby’s big, active and you just get to watch him move around for 30 minutes.

While I’m obviously disappointed that my husband hasn’t been able to be there, it’s OK. It sucks, but it’s OK. It helps keep me safe, the staff at the office safe and other expectant moms/patients in the office safe.

And, lastly, while I’m not due until the end of October, there’s no telling where we’ll be then. Will there be a second outbreak? Will lockdown orders be back in place? Will my hospital allow spouses/partners at deliveries? There’s no telling, and that unknown is incredibly scary. I know I’ll be OK if I have to welcome our son alone, but I don’t want to. I want my husband to be there to welcome our first child into the world with me—even if it’s a scary place.

Add to that, trying to navigate introducing a new baby to his family. Can my mom come visit? Should she? How do I tell my mother-in-law that she has to wait to meet her first grandchild? These are not conversations I want to have, but I will. Of course, the baby’s health is what’s most important. And I’ll follow whatever recommendations are provided by my doctor and the baby’s pediatrician come his birthday.

So, after all that, you must be wondering: How in the hell is there anything good about being pregnant during a pandemic? Well, for starters, I haven’t had to commute to work in more than ten weeks. Which, living in Chicago, is a huge stress relief! No jamming myself onto a crowded train to make it to that 9:00 meeting, or rolling my eyes when the young 20-something men are too absorbed in their phones to give up their seats to a visibly pregnant woman. No long commutes during a bout of morning sickness or following an exhausting day.

While we’ve tried to stick to our typical pre-COVID routines, I’ve been able to sleep in when needed and take an afternoon catnap when I’m feeling fatigued. I haven’t had to worry about showing and wanting to hide my pregnancy before I was ready to share. I haven’t had to make up reasons to skip happy hours or after-work drinks. I’ve been able to follow a strict business-on-top, comfort-on-bottom fashion routine. I’ve been able to avoid unwanted attention as news spreads across the office. And, so far, I’ve encountered zero strangers touching my growing bump (knock on wood).

So, OK, now that I’m writing this out, maybe there are more cons than pros when it comes to being pregnant during a pandemic. But I’ve been happy to live in my little bubble with my husband and our pup as we anxiously await this little buddy’s arrival. Even though we’ve announced to our friends, family and coworkers, it still feels like we’re in our own little world soaking up every moment of our last months as just us two (or three, counting the pup).

I do worry that being absorbed in this bubble for what’s looking like the duration of my pregnancy will make a second pregnancy much more challenging. Not only will we have a toddler to add to the mix, but contending with the chaos of the outside world during round two seems unimaginable right now. Yes, I’m already thinking about baby number two.