Becoming a mom was always something I dreamed about. I thought about what I would name my children, what we would teach our kids, and where we would take them on family adventures. I imagined comforting them after bad dreams, caring for them when they are sick, and dusting them off when they fall. I knew parenting was not all sunshine and rainbows. However, what I did not anticipate when I saw those two little lines on the home pregnancy test, was becoming a parent for the first time in the middle of a global pandemic.
Becoming a first-time mom during the COVID-19 pandemic has added a whole new dimension to becoming a first-time mom. There are more questions and more rules, more skepticism and more fear. There have also been a few hidden blessings and things that were probably easier because of our family’s pandemic circumstances.
During “normal” times, everyone wants to show up at your house immediately after you give birth. Your crotch is sore, you haven’t slept, and you’re running on pure adrenaline and fear, but you’re expected to play hostess anyway.
It is a lot easier to deflect visitors when there is a deadly virus running rampant. If someone thinks you’re rude for turning down guests during COVID, then they probably don’t need to be guests in your home anyway.
Because we had less visitors, we got to cherish and hoard the newborn experience for just us. I didn’t have to pass my baby around to everyone who stopped by to bring a casserole or steal snuggles. All of the sweet baby head smells and post feeding naps were saved for us.
Speaking of feeding, I can imagine that breastfeeding was a much less stressful experience because I did not have to navigate pumping at work. Well, I DID have to pump because I had a painful oversupply for months, but it wasn’t because I was away at work for hours at a time. I was able to nurse my baby almost all the time. We are approaching the one year mark of breastfeeding and at least 80% of his feedings are nursing instead of pumped milk because I am still working primarily from home.
We did not take our son out in public much for a very long time. When we were released from the NICU (in September 2020), the doctor recommended he not be in public until March or April of 2021 because of COVID and his tiny immune system. This is basically what we did. Even still, I find myself holding my breath when strangers look like they might walk too close to us in public. I have had to ask multiple people to back up and not touch my baby.
Despite our best efforts, our little guy has still contracted a few minor viruses during his first year of life. Like most first-time parents, we probably overreacted few (or several) times he was sick and rushed him to the doctor for a very minor illness. Every sneeze, tiny cough, grumpy day, or other was fear-provoking on a whole other level with COVID in the mix.
A year in, we are still unsure of what the right mix of socialization is for a baby in these unprecedented times. We avoid large crowds, generally only have visitors who haven’t traveled or are too social themselves, and it’s become acceptable (or at least not surprising) to ask people if they are vaccinated before scheduling a meet up. Everyone might not feel like this is a necessary step, but it feels necessary to me.
It’s been an interesting time to become a parent. I keep telling myself that I don’t really know what it’s like to be a working mom yet, because nothing about my work and motherhood combination has been “normal” up to this point. I guess maybe with the next kid, I’ll have to figure it all out again in a, hopefully, “normal” world.