Being a New Mother During a Pandemic

I’m taking a step away from my primary intentions for this blog because what is going on in the world right now is overwhelming. #COVID-19 is everywhere – on my Twitter timeline, Facebook groups, instagram stories and of course, the news and radio.

I know a lot of people are feeling anxiety, myself and my husband included. Many people share the concern for a loved one who is high risk and may be affected. For those we know working on the frontlines who are absolutely amazing and providing care through all this turmoil. For anyone we know and are close to because you just never know.

Despite healthy children and younger people not being considered particularly high risk at this time, my husband and I have found ourselves most concerned for our new baby, Maggie.

Having a baby is such a monumental and life-changing experience. My pregnancy treated me very well, and through that whole 9 months I anticipated the birth of my baby. I had no idea how much overwhelming love I would feel for my child before I got pregnant though. I never knew I could love someone like this! Even when she was just a “poppyseed” inside my belly I was already obsessed with her and concerned for her well being.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my husband more than words can describe – he is the love of my life and I am beyond lucky to get to walk beside him forever. To make babies with him and create a family. But it’s a different kind of love than the one you feel for your babies – whether you get to hold them in your arms or not. Loving your child or children is something that you can only really describe when you experience it I think. It’s probably slightly different for everyone, but I think everyone would agree you can’t imagine it until you start feeling it.

So Maggie was born just over 9 weeks ago, and I was feeling all those wonderful emotions that I had all pregnancy but also a bit of anxiety because my baby was no longer under my physical protection. She’s out in the world now – with her own immune system that’s still so new and inexperienced, without me as a barrier between her and the world. I was worried about influenza because she was born in the middle of the season. I worried about RSV because I spent my consolidation placement for nursing in outpatient pediatrics, administering Synagis to high-risk babies, and admitting many others to the pediatric unit because they had got it and got very sick. I worried just about her having any cold because it’s my first baby and I feel like her first cold will be a huge event for me (even if it’s minor for her). But I didn’t expect to have to worry about a pandemic.

I think a pandemic would have always generated a bit of anxiety within me, even when we were just a 2-person family unit. Two healthy adults – this is still a haunting time for anyone and everyone. Any anxiety I would have felt previously though in this situation is definitely amplified because of my daughter. Partly because she’s so new. I only just took her for her first round of vaccines two days ago! But also because she’s my kid – I imagine all parents, despite being aware of the risk factors (or what we know of them currently) for COVID-19, are feeling that. Whether your child is 2 days old, several months or years old, or an adult! Similarly, I imagine the anxiety is high for anyone with a loved one who might be impacted. I’m not trying to discount anyone’s experiences of love and care for their loved ones – I just never knew what it was like to be a parent during a pandemic, nor did I ever think that I’d have to worry about that right now. Or preferably, ever.

So why did I feel the need to write about this?

This actually goes back to the purpose of my blog. Looking at misinformation.

There is SO much misinformation out there about COVID-19 ALREADY! Something about gargling salt water to treat it. There is also a lot of xenophobic misinformation. Some people believe it’s a ‘government conspiracy’.

There is also panic. Panic is not good for many reasons, for example that it often leads people to not listen to reason. Misinformation amplifies panic. And panic creates more misinformation. It’s a vicious cycle.

Many people, like me, a new parent, are feeling particularly vulnerable and anxious. Luckily, I know what information to trust and what to question. I use critical thinking and follow reliable resources. I have some anxiety about my child and my loved ones who are considered high risk, but I am not (yet) panicked. Not everyone is able to easily discern between what is true and reliable and what is not. When you’re already feeling anxious it can be hard to think critically about what you’re reading and to question whether or not it’s true. Parents, especially new parents, may often feel like this because when it comes down to it we can be very distracted! Distracted by the love we have for our new family member, or by the concern we have for their well being. (Just for the record – this is something that can be felt by anyone, you don’t have to be a parent, but I’m writing from my current perspective so please understand I’m not discounting your experience).

The spread of misinformation is at this point, inevitable. It’s already started. As we see with many other types of misinformation, there are some people who just believe what they read or what they’ve been told and won’t let any facts or people change their mind. But if you are the type of person who believes in good, reliable information, please spread that information around. Share resources you come upon with your loved ones, or on social media if you’re so daring (you might get a few deniers commenting but that’s life!). Do this to slow the spread of misinformation, to maybe stop it in its tracks.

Share reliable resources with your peers so that those who have a tendency to panic might come upon that information and feel even a bit more calm. Maybe they won’t go out and buy 200 rolls of toilet paper. Maybe they will listen to the recommendations to practice social distancing. If your information can stop even 1 person from panicking or not listening to what the experts recommend, then you are contributing to slowing the spread of misinformation and increasing awareness! You may be helping a parent feel more relaxed. You may be helping anyone feel less scared.

Awareness = less spread of the disease because it means there are more people listening to facts & following the advice of professionals.

And remember, it’s not all about you. I’m sad I even have to say this, but I’ve seen too many posts online saying “I’m not worried because I’m young”. There are people who are immunocompromised or elderly and need your support to stay healthy. Children CAN and HAVE been affected by this – the stats may be lower, but keep in mind not everyone is getting tested and therefore, some people will not be included in these statistics. Some things you enjoy may be limited for a time, but it’s for the best. Keep that in mind when you’re deciding if you should still be going away on that vacation. Or if you should go to that concert, or weekend party. You can still carry & spread the virus and therefore any decision you make that goes against social distancing is putting other people at risk.

My parting advice:

Social distance. Keep your loved & little ones safe. Wash your damn hands! Spread reliable information. Please know, this is serious. Following recommendations at this time is key. Stay safe everyone!

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