My Pandemic Birth

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Shortly after the epidural hit

I gave birth during the COVID-19 global pandemic: a follow up to How To Give Birth During a Global Pandemic.

First and foremost, I want to thank Kris, my partner in life, who made me feel loved and supported throughout my pregnancy, but particularly so in the last month. Shortly after we self-quarantined, Kris was diagnosed with walking pneumonia. About a week after writing my earlier post, How To Give Birth During a Global Pandemic, both of his parents tested positive for COVID-19, piling onto an already-stressful situation. In short: there was a lot happening. Thankfully, everyone has made a full recovery and for that we are grateful [Listen to our podcast on Gratitude, recorded the week we were going through the worst of it without getting into specifics at the time], but the last month was rough. Through the chaos and strange circumstances, Kris provided a sense of normalcy, calm, and most importantly, kept us well-fed during limited grocery trips and zero take-out. In the end, he was able to be in the room with me during the birth and seeing his reaction was one I will treasure forever. Me and this baby are lucky to have you.

The baby! Yes, as the doctors kept assuring me for nine months, despite my skepticism, I had a baby, an actual human baby. 

You know the quote, “well-behaved women seldom make history,” emblazoned on feminist shirts and mugs, used as a rallying cry to buck the system? In its original work, Pulitzer Prize winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich was not actually encouraging women to burn the world down, but lamenting on how women who make positive impacts on society are often overlooked by history. Additionally, “the phrase points to the reasons that women’s lives have limited representation in historical narrative, and she goes on to look at the type of people and events that do become public record.

During my strange pandemic birth, I was reminded of the author’s observation. The “how” in “How to give birth during a global pandemic” is clear to me.  

It’s women.

Women, society’s unsung heroes, not only got me through giving birth during a frightening pandemic, but are globally leading the way and creating better societies for all of us. 

In no particular order, from small to large-scale, I would like to thank the women who…

  • Shipped us a “a big bottle of the finest wine,” as mentioned in my original post
  • Gifted us hand-me-downs or sent us their must-have items that a new mom like myself would otherwise be ignorant of 
  • Made extremely helpful recommendations 
  • Regularly checked in on us
  • Entertained us with funny texts 
  • Curated inappropriate birth playlists
  • Offered food delivery
  • Sent words of encouragement and well-wishes
  • Gifted us a dozen homemade bagels, even though they themselves are a small baking business
  • Provided prenatal yoga services virtually
  • Picked up groceries for us when Kris was sick and dropped off much-needed chocolate on Easter
  • Delivered dozens of farm-fresh eggs
  • Comprised the amazing doctors, nurses, and staff who assisted in my delivery and took great care of me and our baby. These women, and truly 99% of them were women, took great precaution and provided reassurance during many last-minute pandemic-related logistical changes. No doubt they have felt an immense amount of stress and concern, and are making sacrifices that I can’t even imagine.  
  • Work in areas of the hospital you might not even think about, but are essential, like all the women who work in the cafeteria, who cheerfully delivered meals and nourished my healing body
  • Likewise, the women who regularly came into our room to ensure our space was cleaned
  • Provided lactation consultation. No longer meeting mothers in person, the lactation consultants now host virtual meetings to aid and support overwhelmed breastfeeding mothers like myself who have no idea what we’re doing.
  • Friends, who upon learning about my bruised nipples, were willing to snatch hydrogel pads from their medical office
  • Were honest with me and shared their experiences that it’s okay if it takes a while to bond with the baby or have regrets during the tough first few weeks/months
  • Gave birth to Michelle Obama (currently reading her book when I can)
  • Are in Virginia’s General Assembly, making up up the highest number of women representation in history, who helped drive the passage of the “most ambitious, far-reaching package of liberal legislation of any session in memory” and women/family-friendly legislation in Virginia in the form of the Equal Rights Amendment, removed nonscientific obstacles in the path of a women seeking abortions, proposed family-oriented bills, bills that would support women in the workforce, bills to combat sex discrimination and harassment in the workplace, to protect pregnant women and newborns, and to require schools to provide tampons/pads for menstruating girls
  • Who are examples of true leadership — leading the way during the pandemic

I didn’t think it was possible, but I’ve walked away from this experience with an even greater appreciation for the women making our world a better place to live, who seldomly get the recognition they deserve. Also, I have a great appreciation for what my own body is capable of doing.

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Me on Snazzy Sunday (the one day a week I put on makeup during the quarantine), the day before I went into labor (left) and five days after birth (right)

On April 14, weighing 7.3 ounces, at a length of 20 inches, we added another female to the world. Our future voter, Lillie Stella, named in honor of two selfless, loving, strong women in our family, is keeping us busy and is a daily reminder of our continued dedication to empower and support women, because it was women who were instrumental in her safe entrance into the world during a global pandemic.

THANK YOU!

-Lyssa

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