It’s easy, almost tempting, to focus on the challenges brought on by the novel coronavirus and Covid-19 disease. There’s no shortage of sobering news about how the virus has transformed our daily lives and, unfortunately, cut lives short.
Yet, with the heartache and loss, there is also hope. Expecting families have something to look forward to in the midst of the pandemic – new life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that pregnant women are no more at risk of getting sick from Covid-19 than any other adult. Moreover, many pregnant women who have tested positive for the virus have delivered healthy children and had generally positive outcomes. Pregnant women not presumed to have the virus are learning how to interact with a healthcare system that’s actively fighting against Covid-19.
Changing birth plans
Charlotte residents Alicia and Solomon Tetteh are expecting their third child in August. The previous birth of their 20-month-old twins reminds them to prepare for the unexpected. Alicia planned to deliver the twins without medication but plans changed when they had to be delivered during an emergency cesarean section.
“That first experience of having to adjust my birth plan has helped keep me calm this go-round,” Alicia shared.
She and her husband are doing everything possible to reduce her stress levels, like eating well and working out at least three to four times a week.
Karen and Curtis Robinson are also expecting a child, their first. A son due in late April/early May is roughly 14 years in the making for the high-school sweethearts.
“It’s surreal to think back to us as a high-school couple when people would joke that we’d make the cutest babies,” said 32-year-old Curtis, “and now we’re excited to see it all come into fruition.”
Due to the pandemic, Curtis can’t attend prenatal appointments, and Karen must have her temperature taken to enter the doctor’s office and the OB-GYN area. Karen’s original birth plan included having her mother and sister join them in the delivery room, but safety guidelines won’t allow it.
The Robinsons also looked forward to baby showers in Charlotte and their native Virginia. Those plans got canceled, too. But the couple shows no signs of dampened spirits.
“Since we’re home, we’ve been able to spend more time nesting and preparing for our son. Curtis and I are both silly, so we’re excited to see how he’ll turn out,“ Karen said as she laughed.
Curtis is simply grateful that he’s allowed in the delivery room. The new policies and precautions from their healthcare providers are teaching the first-time parents a lesson they’ll likely learn over and over: Parenting is about rolling with the punches.
A supportive village
Both families have leaned on extended family and support systems to help them remain calm throughout the turmoil of the pandemic.
Alicia messages her midwife and checks in with other moms she developed a relationship with during her first pregnancy. (She plans to become a doula for mothers of multiples like herself.)
As a therapist and adjunct professor at UNC Charlotte, Alicia has her hands full. She’s finding her rhythm in working from home side-by-side with her husband, chasing her toddlers, and preparing for another baby.
She offered advice to other expectant mothers, particularly those delivering during the virus outbreak, “Listen to your body. Listen to your gut. Don’t put any extra pressure on the stuff you think you have to do.”
The Robinsons have incorporated Skype and Zoom into their routines to help their family in Virginia feel connected to the experience. They still sound like high-school sweethearts as they talk about the new life entering their world, a life that will be oblivious to the pandemic.
“We’re excited to meet him, to see his face,” Karen said.
They acknowledged that the circumstances are different than expected, but Karen plans to “play it by ear.”
The Tettehs and Robinsons remind us that there are spots of joy, even amid a crisis. Playing it by ear and doing what we can to avoid additional pressure seems like sound advice for all of us in these unprecedented times.