Last summer, we asked: “Are you or your partner pregnant -- or have you delivered in the past few months?”
“We want to hear from you.”
I expected to receive a few dozen responses to this Google Form.
It wasn’t just a place to vent or complain: Many new moms and parents-to-be mentioned how happy they were to be pregnant at all, despite the timing with COVID-19.
Our form was filled out by moms and dads, a grandparent or two -- anyone who was interested in responding to our questions was welcome to submit his or her experience.
We posted it in July 2020, and at last check, we had gathered 324 responses. A lot of these submissions arrived in mid-2020, as you can probably tell, based on references to quarantine and such, if you keep reading.
Although we’ve featured many moms in the series that followed, “My Pandemic Pregnancy,” we thought it would be interesting to take a look at ALL the responses, and gather up some themes.
Some of the following snippets have been edited for grammar, length, clarity and/or brevity.
Here’s what you told us about what it was like, to be pregnant amid a global pandemic:
Having to attend ultrasounds alone, or grappling with partners being left out of the early stages.
This was the topic that came up the most, by far. Here’s a look at what people had to say:
- “I just had my first ultrasound, and I had to go alone. My husband couldn’t be there to support me, even on FaceTime.”
- “(I hated) feeling like my husband, who is not allowed at any prenatal visits and barely allowed to participate in (the) birth, is being forced into the role of ‘distant father’ before our child is even here.”
- “The thing that has been most frustrating is the fact that my husband has not been to appointments with me. This is my first pregnancy, and I would’ve loved to have him experience this with me.”
- “I am not liking that I have to go to all of my appointments alone. I am so excited to be pregnant, but terrified at the same time. I am constantly in fear that COVID might affect my family, and I have also been constantly concerned that something is going to go wrong. My anxiety has been through the roof.”
- “I envisioned my doctor’s appointments like the ones I’ve seen on TV. My partner would be next to me, holding my hand, and we would both tear up together at every appointment and get cute pictures or videos of those moments. Instead, I have to wear a mask and FaceTime him so we can see the baby together.”
- “I wish my husband could come to ultrasounds and appointments. It makes me feel like I am in this alone.”
- “As we were excited and looking forward to the first appointment, we were informed my child’s father couldn’t attend -- or any (appointments) in the future or the first ultrasound. It broke our hearts. We are going to try to make the best of this situation: My partner will drive me to my appointment and patiently wait in the car for me to video chat him as soon as I’m able, from the OB’s office, so he can see the first glimpse of our baby. I’m sad that my baby’s father can’t be a part of such a special time.”
Loaded feelings involving prenatal appointments that were either virtual, shortened, compromised by COVID, or canceled altogether.
This was another aspect that was mentioned often. A look at the situation, in your words:
- “The virtual appointments were frustrating since they were quick and the doctor couldn’t feel around or measure.”
- “I can’t imagine doing a virtual appointment. Like, how can you tell really if my child is actually OK?”
- “I didn’t have an OB appointment for 13 weeks, as my OB was only taking high-risk appointments at the time. It was terrifying not knowing if everything was going OK.”
- “I am in the final weeks of my pregnancy and was exposed to someone who tested positive (for COVID), and that was awful. I had to get tested. I missed two (prenatal) appointments waiting on the results, which took a week, and then had a hard time getting another one scheduled. My results were negative, thankfully.”
- “Virtual appointments are practically useless.”
- “I feel like I’m being rushed through doctor appointments.”
- “When the shutdown happened, I was four months pregnant. I was not able to go anywhere or do anything, really. My appointments were virtual for months. I didn’t see a doctor for three months. I had diabetes and lupus throughout this experience. My nerves drove me crazy -- not being able to (fulfill) certain cravings, or make sure my baby girl was growing correctly and was healthy. ... (It was hard).”
This mom above, Hillary Calhoun, was featured in late August 2020. Read her story.
Family members who were handling COVID differently.
This came up not quite as often as the first two topics, but there was most certainly some frustration here when it came to extended families or people not being on the same page when it came to pandemic pregnancies or how they’d handle the newborn stage.
Flipping through our responses, the people who wrote about these types of concerns in our form did NOT want to be named or contacted for follow-up interviews. Here’s a slice of what those said:
- “The most frustrating thing has been grandparents not staying at home (or) social distancing and still going about their lives. My son is 7 weeks old, and they haven’t seen him yet because they have been all over Houston and they’re not taking this seriously. We could really use their help since we also have a 22-month-old, but it’s not worth the risk.”
- “Our family is upset they will not be able to see the newest member, and my husband and I decided we will not allow any visitors for at least four weeks after birth to hopefully help make sure baby gets some immune system built up. (The) family has been making me feel guilty for trying to protect myself and my newborn during this pregnancy.”
- “We’re trying to get certain family members to understand that (I’m) at risk and need to take care of (myself) and our immediate family -- and we’re trying to get family to understand that they might not be able to see the baby so soon after birth, as a precaution.”
Being sad about not being able to share in the joy of a pregnancy.
This was understandable, relatable, and we had SO many responses along these lines:
- “I feel being pregnant during a pandemic is frustrating and stressful -- simply for the fact that I can’t share these moments with family and friends.”
- “It was an awful feeling to have to go through my OB appts without my husband, being this is my first and will be my only pregnancy due to infertility. I feel so much was taken away due to the virus. I wasn’t able to have a normal baby shower in fear of being around too many people. I wasn’t able to be around people who were able to see me grow and enjoy being pregnant. I lived in fear for five months of my pregnancy. I stayed in my home from March till July, when I delivered.”
- “I’ve missed out on a lot of the excitement and celebration around my first pregnancy. Those feelings have been replaced with anxiety and fear. It’s hard knowing that I’ll never get to experience my first pregnancy again, and my experience has definitely been tainted.”
A pandemic pregnancy sounded extra tough after trying to conceive for a long time, or after having suffered a miscarriage.
A look at some of the responses ...
- “I had to learn of both (of my) losses all alone, since COVID prevented my husband from attending appointments with me.”
- “(I) had my first pregnancy/miscarriage in April 2020, and had to go to the ER alone. Not even my husband could come with me. (I’m) pregnant again now, and have to go to all appointments alone, even ultrasounds. FaceTime is not the same as having my husband there with me.”
- “It’s been very frustrating after five miscarriages. We were hoping to have face-to-face visits to make sure the baby is OK. I haven’t had any since week 13. I’m now 30 weeks pregnant, and will be seen at 34 weeks, virtually! Plus, (we had) to invest in our own ultrasound to see if the baby is in position, since the OB-gyn won’t see us.”
- “This is our rainbow baby after four pregnancy losses and secondary infertility. I never imagined (this) would come in the middle of a global pandemic! ... We also were planning for a VBAC, and were not sure if our doula would be allowed to come. There were a lot of tearful discussions with my doctor about what my long-awaited delivery would look like. With things changing almost daily, it was very unnerving, to say the least.”
- “We’d been trying for a while after having a late-term miscarriage of twins last year. (And then) at eight weeks, I tested positive for COVID with no symptoms. I have not been able to get back in to an in-person appointment, even though I am high risk. I worry financially since I was supposed to start my new job in June, and now it is postponed because of the pandemic -- and I’m worried I will miss the early signs that may help prevent another loss.”
- “I am doing IVF, and trying to conceive during this has been terrifying. Cycles are being canceled mid-cycle as they are deemed ‘not medically necessary.’ I have now had two IVF-related surgeries, and my husband could not be there. When our embryo was transferred, my husband could not be there. Now having that embryo transfer fail is another issue (we’re) trying to get through while quarantining.”
- “It’s a bittersweet situation. We have been trying for over five years to get pregnant, and IVF finally worked. I was 10 weeks pregnant when the virus struck the U.S., and we had to move to isolation. I feel duped because I can’t share this time with my friends and family like I thought I would be able to. I have to send LOTS of pictures and share my growing belly virtually. My shower is now going to be a drive-by parade, which is not something I thought I’d be facing. My husband has only been to a couple appointments with me -- the rest I have to go alone. ... Although home seems like it would be the safest place to be, I live with a first responder who could very easily bring (COVID) home at any moment. Currently, the virus is ripping through his department and he’s being asked to work more hours. My biggest fear is getting the virus and going into labor early and jeopardizing my baby’s life -- and all that we’ve worked for to get here. I’m currently 29 weeks.”
Having to make hard choices.
“Hard choices,” as you’ll see, could mean a number of things. Here’s a sampling of what moms had to say:
- “The fact that only one person can be present in the delivery room, the possibility of having to chose isolation vs. putting my baby at risk if I choose to breastfeed (and) if a coronavirus test is positive, having to isolate siblings for two weeks after the baby comes home, and grandparents not being able to bond with the baby right away -- (is so much to think about).”
- “After delivering in May, we did choose to quarantine ourselves for more than two weeks before our parents came to visit at a socially distanced backyard meetup. No holding. No snuggles. It made things better -- and worse.”
- “I saw on the hospital’s website that now only one person was allowed in the hospital with you during the birth process, which really upset me because I was planning to have my husband, best friend and sister (there) to support me.”
- “(I was) hoping to have my husband with me while I deliver our baby. Now my mother will be taking his place, because once you are in the hospital, you cannot leave.”
- “I chose to get induced because I was so nervous about not only giving birth for the first time, but also potentially having to give birth alone. I ended up having an emergency C-section. I have been feeling sad because my baby is now 3 months old and has not been anywhere besides our house. My whole family lives in Illinois, so now we are trying to figure out the safest way for our daughter to meet my family. It is a devastating situation.”
- “I’m a teacher. I am in a hard position since I felt forced to make a choice to come back to work or lose my job. I don’t want to risk my life because it means risking my baby’s life, as well.”
- “We are an IVF couple, so this was a long-waited-for moment, and we couldn’t share, and couldn’t celebrate. There was no gender reveal or hugs or baby gifts. There was only heartbreak and no one to share it with. My pregnancy started as triplets. One was diagnosed as a ‘vanishing triplet’ at eight weeks. Then, as I sat alone in a doctors office at 13 weeks, I was told, ‘We think there’s something wrong with your baby.’ Sure enough, our daughter had no skull bones, and it’s fatal 100% of the time. My husband was not with me and I had to call him at work to tell him our longed-for child would die. We were sent to New York, at the height of the crisis there, because only a few doctors in the country handle situations like mine. To save our son, we had to do a termination for medical reasons. I flew home the next day (with my water broken). I couldn’t see my friends or family. I had no comfort or outside distractions because the world was on lockdown. I was four months pregnant when my daughter died, but her body remained inside me until I gave birth to my son. My husband wasn’t welcome (at) any of my appointments or ultrasounds. I had to go weekly to check on the remaining baby, and each week, I was traumatized all over, sitting in the same room where I was told my daughter (wouldn’t make it). I gave birth in a mask. No one was allowed to visit, though I am grateful my husband was finally allowed in the room. I haven’t seen my friends or family in almost a year because my situation was so precarious. I wouldn’t have survived the flu, much less COVID. It’s traumatized me to the point that I’m not uncomfortable and on high alert any time we leave our home. Being pregnant in a pandemic is not for the faint of heart. I’m glad my son survived, but the experience has left a lasting mark.”
This wasn’t what families and new parents envisioned.
We’ll let the respondents share their words ...
- “Being (that this is) my first baby, I felt very unprepared and not as excited as I should be. When the birthing classes got canceled, the hospital only sent me a booklet of what to expect.”
- “One of the hardest things about delivery was not being able to have my 4-year-old daughter come to the hospital to meet her sister like we had envisioned.”
- “We are in the midst of trying to adjust to being a family of four with almost no outside help.”
- “I definitely envisioned for my first pregnancy a grand baby shower celebration, a filled delivery room with parents and visiting friends, (and then) getting together with other new moms and swapping stories -- or the lux idea of a baby moon!”
- “Seeing my parents and sisters come into our apartment with masks and drenched in hand sanitizer was sad. I couldn’t even see the smiles on their faces when meeting their first grandchild and first nephew.”
- “A lack of close family support was upsetting during pregnancy, labor, and post delivery. I had to go to appointments alone, wearing a mask. There was no baby shower or celebrations. Working as an RN in a hospital was stressful, with the constant COVID policy changes. Concerns for having or getting COVID-19 were constant.”
- “Everyone talks about pregnancy being a beautiful thing, and I’m sure it is, but not during a pandemic.”
- “I was pregnant and delivered my first child alone because my husband was deployed, and this is still more stressful some days.”
- “I feel that I was kind of cheated out of the whole pregnancy experience this time around.”
You can read more about this mom, Hilary Blevins, in the link above or right here.
Having to quarantine from friends and family, or have them miss the big moments.
This section likely speaks for itself. People said things like:
- “From the onset of the pandemic, we have been quarantined from family and friends.”
- “I delivered my son during Hurricane Irma, and that delayed my parents meeting my son -- and now delivering during a pandemic, once again, my dad couldn’t come fly in to meet my newest additions (my mom drove in to help care for my son while I was in the hospital though). The isolation is terrible, and especially having to isolate with a toddler who hasn’t been to day care since March because of COVID.”
- “I think the saddest piece is not really being able to share much of this experience with anyone, outside from Zoom or phone calls. It will be my parents’ first grandchild. I know they are feeling pretty isolated in not really being able to see or be with me; for example, my mom really wanted to take me shopping for maternity clothes -- not going to happen.”
- “This is my first pregnancy, and while I’m so grateful, it is a bummer to miss out on so much. The biggest struggle is not having support from family after the birth due to having to social distance. Isolation and postpartum are not a good combination.”
- “I’ve had to take time off work way earlier than the start of my maternity leave because the fear of COVID-19 and taking any kind of germs home to my family. My older brother just recently passed from COVID-19, and knowing we can’t have a celebration of life for him all as a family is so upsetting. People aren’t taking this seriously. I don’t know what I’m up against when I go into labor. ... This, by far, has been the scariest pregnancy I’ve had.”
- “I had to have an unexpected C-section, so being there for several days, with no one but my partner, was hard. I was in pain and crying, and I couldn’t have my mother there to help me. I couldn’t have people (there) who cared about me, and we couldn’t celebrate as a family.”
Planning alternatives to normal showers and baby-related events.
Some people were glad to have this option vs. nothing at all, and others were down about the idea of a drive-thru baby shower or virtual gender reveal. Here’s a look:
- “We are hosting a drive-by baby shower in place of what I dreamed of being the cutest baby shower for our firstborn. We are (also) hosting a Zoom brunch to play games and ‘see’ family and friends.”
- “I definitely envisioned my baby shower going differently. I had been researching venues and decor. I already had a theme set from the time I found out I was pregnant. COVID-19 shut a lot of my plans down, and I wasn’t able to have a traditional baby shower. However, I did have a virtual shower via Facebook, and my immediate family came over, wearing masks, of course. It was a really nice turnout, and we received lots of wonderful gifts by mail.”
- “I had planned on a big gender reveal that was to take place in mid-April and baby shower later in my pregnancy. We had even gotten decorations. ... We’ve had to plan a modified baby shower. It’s not necessarily what I had envisioned, but I am grateful to at least see my family and friends in passing!”
- “Having to have a ‘virtual’ baby shower seems odd, and is definitely a bummer.”
- “I’ve been quarantined since March, and only have people visit by the window.”
- “I had a drive-thru baby shower, but most of my family was unable to attend because they cannot travel. That is the worst part. Aside from my husband, I have no one else nearby that is my family, and I have felt very alone and sad in that sense.”
- “Definitely my baby shower (was a loss). I have a 7-year-old, and always said if I had another baby, I wanted a big, beautiful baby shower and to be able to enjoy this pregnancy.”
- “We decided to do a baby shower recently with just immediate family -- BIG mistake. A few days afterward, my brother-in-law started running a fever. Sure enough, he tested positive for COVID. Now four additional immediate family members have tested positive from the party, as well.”
- “Our gender reveal had to be done via Facebook Live, our baby shower was canceled -- it has been a very different and sometimes nerve-racking experience.”
Moms and families who actually got COVID.
And some other moms:
- “(I’m) feeling very luckily to be pregnant, then I got COVID while eight weeks pregnant, and now I’m terrified day and night until my next appointment. We’ve only told my my mom and best friend for fear of something going wrong. It’s miserable while trying to be so happy.”
- “My husband and I both became infected with the virus, and are still not totally out of the woods yet. We are fine and healthy, but it has been a scary experience due to the amount of unknowns.”
- “I got a positive test back when I had no symptoms.”
- “I contracted the virus in my 14 weeks, and honestly, I have been feeling super bad.”
- “I work in the medical field and recently tested positive. I remember telling my partner if I get the worst end of this and end up hospitalized, he has to do everything in his power to keep our little one alive if I don’t make it. It’s tough times.”
- “The worst part has been that I tested positive for COVID at 24 weeks pregnant, and was admitted to the hospital. (It was the) scariest experience of my life.”
- “This pregnancy was another surprise for us, but I recently found out that I tested positive for COVID -- and the hard part is having a 2-year-old daughter who is completely attached to me, and to have her stay as far away from me as possible has been the toughest. I’m literally beyond shocked with the conditions that I’ve been experiencing, such as being six months pregnant and having asthma, but now experiencing shortness of breath. It’s been pretty rough the past few weeks, I just know I have to fight it and stay alive, because if I stop breathing, then my unborn child will not survive on its own. To wake up every day is a fight. You are fighting to stay alive. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone at all! I’m praying and hoping to get better.”
Read more -- My pandemic pregnancy: ‘I was lucky I acted fast’
The number of moms and mothers-to-be who used the word ‘lonely’ or ‘isolated.’
Some weeks, flipping through our responses, it seemed like these terms were our common denominators. Almost everyone seemed to use these words. Moms said things like ...
- “Pregnancy is usually when you are surrounded by family and friends. This pandemic has caused pregnancy to be an incredibly lonely experience.”
- “The isolation is the worst part. We’re a military family. I moved here in October right after finding out I’m pregnant. My wife is still in Georgia finishing her assignment there. Being so close to family yet having to isolate still is a lot more difficult than I imagined it would be.”
- “The hardest part of a pandemic pregnancy is the loneliness. You aren’t able to show off your bump, spend lots of time with support (people) such as friends and family, and you’re going to all your appointments totally alone … it’s tough.”
- “I’m feeling super isolated. I’m a first-time mom and have been working from home since I was eight weeks. The fear of the unknown is scary, and isolation has taken some joy from this experience that I anticipated!”
- “I’ve had 3 NICU babies, and I’m trying to avoid that this time. It has been a very lonely pregnancy experience.”
- “My husband and I have been trying for over a year and a half, and now that we are finally pregnant, I feel robbed. The isolation has been brutal -- having to wait to share in the excitement of appointments until I get home, and the fear of getting sick, and not spending time with friends; it’s taking its toll.”
- “It’s very isolating having a baby during a pandemic. I’m torn between wanting to show her off to family and friends, but also wanting to keep her safe. Ultimately, safety wins, but the sadness of not being able to introduce your child to loved ones for who knows how long is heartbreaking.”
An increased reliance on FaceTime.
FaceTime and Zoom have been a saving grace, but at the same time, not what people expected in terms of a portal to share sonograms and host their newborn introductions.
- “My son is learning his family through FaceTime in order to keep him healthy.”
- “I wish my husband could experience all of the ultrasound appointments like he did with our first child. Sharing over FaceTime isn’t the same experience.”
- “I definitely imagined my husband being able to go to appointments with me, and he is only allowed (at) certain ones, and not for the full appointment. He was deployed for the first ultrasound, and because of COVID, he couldn’t even be in the room for the second one. He had to try to see the screen over FaceTime. And they only allowed certain parts of the ultrasound to be over FaceTime, for liability reasons.”
- “I always imagined my significant other being present at office visits and ultrasounds. Being a nurse, I understand precautions, but I also live with my significant other. If he has been exposed or tests positive, then there’s a major possibility I have been exposed or will test positive. Every appointment, I get very anxious about any ‘bad news’ being delivered and having to drive myself home. Yes, we FaceTime during the appointments, but it’s not the same as having your most supportive person there for you. I’m blessed that everything has been smooth so far, but I really do have a huge sense of compassion for women who may have complications during pregnancy.”
- “When it was time to be induced, I had to go to the hospital with just my boyfriend, who had never been through a delivery before. I FaceTimed my mom about six times before the baby was born.”
Being affected by hospital precautions or new rules.
Moms said ...
- “(I’m nervous about) the regulations surrounding delivery -- wearing a mask during labor, only one guest allowed, and they could take my baby if I test positive for COVID-19.”
- “I had to deliver alone, being that the hospital in which I was delivering ran out of COVID tests for non-patients.”
- “I had to deliver in the hospital with a mask on. They tested me for the virus and still had me in a mask. My baby had to stay two days after me due to jaundice. They ended up not letting me come in there really at all.”
- “(I have a) fear of delivering alone, and in a COVID-case hospital.”
- “I’m not bothered by having to labor with a mask on, however, I am concerned about being COVID-tested before labor and not getting to hold my child if I do have a positive test.”
- “My daughter had kidney problems since she was in the womb, so having to go to doctors appointments alone was very scary. I’m 18 years old. Me and my boyfriend didn’t know much, so it just being us two in the hospital was really hard. We needed our families’ support, and it sucked that it had to be virtual. We were in the hospital for four days (following a C-section) and we were so scared.”
- “I have about two weeks left until I am having a scheduled C-section. My husband can be with me, but as soon as he is in the hospital, he is not allowed to leave. If he leaves, he cannot return, and I will be alone with the baby and after the effects of a major surgery. I am nervous and anxious about being tested for COVID-19, and what the results will mean for me and my newborn.”
- “Delivering was a challenge. We had things tentatively set up for our almost-5-year-old while I was going to be in the hospital. But the baby came three weeks early. We were scrambling the day of to try and get anybody to take him. I say ‘anybody,’ but with the pandemic going on, we had to be wary of anybody that was still working or wasn’t taking things seriously. We even called the hospital to see if he could be there for only a few short hours while my sister drove up from Orlando. The answer was a firm no.”
- “I remember being in active labor and receiving a nasal swab. I was fearful of having them stick that in my nose, but I was more in pain from contractions. The nurses were all preparing for my delivery and one says, ‘Oh s---, I forgot my mask.’ It reminded me, I’m delivering a baby during a pandemic. ... Next thing I know, my nurses were cheering. My COVID results had come back negative. I definitely never expected life to change like this.”
The challenges associated with having other kids in the home.
- “Nothing is how I planned. My daughter can’t go to school, so I’ve had to manage being pregnant at home with her, unable to go anywhere. She’s 3, so she doesn’t fully understand what’s happening. My husband isn’t allowed at any of our appointments, just delivery. My daughter won’t be able to meet her sibling until we return home from the hospital, as we’re allowed no visitors at all, especially no one under 18.”
- “It will be tricky once the baby is here, if I need to continue to do virtual schooling for my little ones and have a newborn at home.”
- “I’ve been stuck at home with my 4-year-old since March since I was temporarily furloughed and day care closed.”
- “I’m going stir crazy at home -- working remotely, raising a 2 1/2-year-old, in the middle of summer, eight months pregnant. I have spent all but two months at home pregnant!”
- “I have three other children -- ages 6, 4 and almost 2. We haven’t left the house since March; not even to go to Publix. That alone is very tough. I Lysol EVERYTHING before it comes in the house. I am not willing to risk us getting the virus being pregnant. My husband has to go to work, which I am very thankful for because many have lost their jobs. It’s a different stressor for me, though, with him potentially bringing home germs. ... We are going to look back at this crazy time with many stories for our grandchildren one day.”
Work challenges and financial woes.
Job and money situations became tricky for many people who filled out our form. They said things like:
- “Work is challenging because I’m a paramedic and treat positive COVID patients on a regular basis.”
- “I was laid off (from) my job at six months pregnant, and have been applying to positions, but no one has contacted me.”
- “I’m mostly worried about going back to teach high school face-to-face in a few weeks, because the district made it clear that they are doing nothing for high-risk teachers.”
- “My husband returned to work only 14 days after our son was born. We did not know I would be recovering from a C-section and had planned for my mother to come and stay with us. Alas, she has yet to meet (our son), and as she lives in Windsor, we have no idea when she will. My mother-in-law came to help on my husband’s first post-paternity shift as a firefighter/paramedic, but then she was needed to help her mother, in senior living.”
- “I thought my employer would allow me to continue to work from home as I am ‘higher risk.’ That is not the case. I’m required to go in daily.”
- “As a CPA, I was juggling working from home during tax season, being 40 weeks pregnant, and taking care of (and) entertaining a 2 1/2-year-old.”
- “I am a nurse practitioner in a local hospital, so there was the scary element of the unknown of working in health care at this time while pregnant. I ended up being taken out of work four weeks early because I had an exposure to a COVID-positive patient (thankfully, I did not contract the disease).”
- “I got laid off from my job two weeks before I was to begin maternity leave, meaning I lost all of my maternity leave.”
- “I have declined a job offer with a prestigious company just to prevent being exposed.”
- “I’m a labor and delivery nurse, so working in the hospital while pregnant and when there wasn’t much data on how COVID-19 affected pregnancy was very nerve-wracking. My husband is active-duty Navy, so we were worried about him bringing it home also.”
- “I am a teacher and have high anxiety about going back and not going back. I worry about the position I’d leave my coworkers and students in if I didn’t work at all this year, because there is already a teacher shortage, the beginning of the year is stressful by itself, and all teachers will have to teach in a completely new way. That’s a terrible position for a sub to be in. My doctors aren’t sure what to make of the ‘data’ that’s been reported on pregnant women because it is so incomplete and the sample sizes are too small.”
- “My fiancé and I both work. I am an assistant infant teacher. When the pandemic started, I was very scared because I am considered a high-risk pregnancy. So many thoughts went through my head, especially because of the unknown. I still worked, but we went remote in April, which was a blessing. I was pregnant and still able to work from home, while my fiancé was out working, which was scary. I was able to spend four months at home working and enjoying my pregnancy. Unfortunately, I got laid off in July, which then would have canceled my insurance. It was a nightmare and a blessing in disguise all at the same time. I needed this time to get the nursery ready and to be stress free and enjoy this pregnancy. The stressful part was having to continue my insurance, which is costing me and arm and a leg. Not working, having to collect unemployment and my fiancé providing the money, was (all very) stressful.”
- “I have a job as a health care provider in a hospital setting and I’m working throughout the pregnancy. My biggest concern is that I will contract COVID and be alone throughout labor, or that it will have some unknown health effects on the baby down the road.”
- “I had a difficult pregnancy and worked from home for most of it, with only my partner for support. I felt pretty alone and didn’t have a lot of the regular experiences. I was so overwhelmed with pandemic and work stress. I was not prepared, and the baby came a month early.”
- “I was laid off two days before I was supposed to go on maternity leave. I was completely devastated and didn’t make a smooth recovery. My postpartum stress has taken a toll on me. Now unemployed with a newborn and toddler at home is not how I envisioned this, when I first found out I was pregnant.”
- “My husband works for the restaurant industry, so in April, we quickly became a one-income household. Without the unemployment benefits and my ability to work from home, we could have lost our home. In June, his restaurant reopened, and now we have the fear of him bringing COVID home every day.”
Concerns involving NICU stays.
Read more -- My pandemic pregnancy: ‘We were sitting there with a happy, healthy newborn, and then suddenly, it switched’ | My pandemic post-pregnancy: ‘People don’t realize how lonely the NICU experience can be’
- “(We had a) Cesarean birth with twins, birthdays May 30, 2020. Both babies were sent to the NICU at two different hospitals in Jacksonville while mom finished her recovery in Nassau. Dad followed the twins to the NICU, first at one hospital, then they moved to another. Protocols were strict! There were weeks of NICU visits with only one parent per child.”
- “(We) had identical twins on July 25. Due to COVID, my husband is unable to see our boys, who are currently 2 weeks old in the NICU. It started as as one parent per baby, which was awesome because both of us were able to be with our boys, but then the hospital we are at is only allowing ONE parent per 24 hour period to visit. So, it’s either him or me, and since I am breastfeeding, my husband lets me come every day and has only met our babies three times since they were born, which is heartbreaking.”
- “I am a teacher with a pandemic baby who was born 10 weeks early. He spent 67 days in the NICU. Due to pandemic restrictions, my husband and I could not visit or hear daily doctor updates about the baby together. ... We would travel to the hospital together and take turns sitting in the car so the other could go up to the NICU to visit. It’s still difficult going to doctor appointments (and) managing the equipment he requires with only one parent allowed due to the pandemic. We missed out on (leaning) on one another during difficult medical decisions as they were and are continuing to happen.”
Some are able to see the bright side.
- “(I am) feeling grateful to be healthy and virus-free so far. It is nice, though, to not have to purchase maternity clothes for work, working from home and all.”
- “As an infertility patient, I am grateful to have the option of virtual appointments. Sometimes I’ve had up to four doctors appointments in a week, often well before 8 a.m. and before work (we’re both elementary teachers), so it’s nice having the opportunity to do some virtually.”
- “It has been wonderful being able to work from home through my morning sickness, and keep it a secret as long as I wanted.”
- “At first, I was stir crazy, and kind of missed going to the office. But at about five weeks up until 14 weeks, I was so sick. I was able to comfortably work from home instead of having a commute to downtown, use public restrooms if I got sick, etc. Yesterday, I had lunch and randomly got sick -- I guess baby doesn’t like Mexican food, and I was just thinking how lucky I am to be able to be sick at home and not in the office. My husband has been allowed to go to the two in-person appointments I have had. But even going to the doctor is more convenient -- less wait time. I have had one virtual appointment but even that is great! Virtual appointments are only like, 15 minutes.”
- “The only thing I can say I’m grateful for is that I get an extra few hours a day to sleep (or) nap since I don’t have to commute right now.”
- “We both got furloughed off work, and even though we were both stressed over money and the insurance, it was so nice to spend that quality time with him. Without being able to go absolutely anywhere, we got a chance to really bond and fall in love again. Every day, he made me laugh and made me forget about how scared I was -- of not only becoming a mom, but bringing a baby into the world in the middle of a full-blown pandemic.”
Read more -- My pandemic pregnancy: From infertility to cancer to IVF to a 20-week scare: ‘It happened exactly how it was supposed to’ | My pandemic pregnancy: ‘If we make it through this, we’re really meant to be’
Post-delivery brought some hardships, as well.
- “The overall stir-crazy, isolated feeling, post-delivery has sucked.”
- “My baby was 5 months at the beginning of the pandemic. I hadn’t taken her out much prior due to the cooler weather, and finally, I was feeling like we could go out to eat or just to Target when quarantine began.”
- “Post-delivery, I had health issues that landed me back in the hospital and I had to be there alone.”
- “Postpartum has been hard. We miss our friends and family. We are both transplants to Houston, and most of our loved ones live out of state. Our friends have only been able to meet our child through a window. I am caring for the newborn while my husband works remotely in the office/nursery, so his work calls routinely have a screaming child in the background.”
And some answers didn’t necessarily fall into a category -- but they were so telling.
One day, we’ll likely look back at this time and it’ll be hard to believe what we were up against.
- “Not being able to do hospital tours and/or daycare tours was also a little sad (I guess I’m just going to have to trust the online reviews!)”
- “My first pregnancy was an IVF pregnancy, and this one was a surprise due to being out of my birth control prescription during a pandemic!”
- “It has been challenging getting certain supplies and items due to shortages.”
- “Our return home from the hospital was especially challenging, as our bedroom is on the third floor, and the only working shower is in the basement. The second-floor bathroom renovation is still not finished due to COVID.”
- “This is my daughter’s second pregnancy. She was pregnant 11 years ago, during the swine flu. She got sick during that time and was in the ICU and put on the ventilator. They had to deliver the the baby at this time. She was only 25 weeks. Long story short, the baby was 1 pound 10 ounces. Everyone is doing great. So, this pregnancy for her and the whole family has been a little scary. She was hoping to have one normal pregnancy.”
- “Since finding out we were pregnant, we have had a best friend pass away, our dog was diagnosed with cancer, my husband lost his job, and COVID ransacked the world. It has been a whirlwind.”
- “There is an abundance of things I envisioned going differently throughout the growth of my child during this pandemic. Support groups were imperative to my sanity as a first time mom. So often, postpartum gets pushed aside as a ‘she said,’ and the fourth trimester gets shot down. It’s not a topic of conversation unless you’ve established a tribe of equal woman going through the same triumphs and emotions. You spend days and weeks after a baby is born trying to protect them from the ‘normal viruses’ and germs and swaddling them with as much love as possible; introducing them to family, friends (and) going to mom groups -- and hoping you make it through the day with a shower or brushing your teeth. Despite having a baby who turned 1 on June 25, all of those momentous, and important factors, were ripped away. Our norm, our life and happiness disappeared, and became the shadow of the four walls in our home.”
We spoke with moms who turned to home birth. -- My pandemic pregnancy, turned pandemic homebirth: ‘It was a very intimate setting’
And mothers with extreme health circumstances. -- My pandemic pregnancy: ‘Sure enough, I have (a brain aneurysm)’
Hopefully, this helped illustrate what exactly a pandemic pregnancy looked like, for the new parents who had to endure the experience. We’ll leave you with some final words from one of our responses:
“Thanks for listening and bringing a voice to mamas who are isolated right now. Being a new mom is hard enough at the beginning, but throwing COVID in the mix has been an experience I will never forget.”
An extra special thank you to EVERYONE who participated in interviews or filled out our form.