I gave birth to my third baby in the middle of a pandemic. Upon arriving at the hospital already in our masks, my husband and I stopped at the doors where we made our way through a temperature check; took a health questionnaire; used a sanitation station for our hands, phone, insurance card, and keys; and filled out some paperwork. I managed to do all of this while contracting every four to five minutes, unknowingly already seven centimeters dilated. I remember being frustrated because I wanted to get to a room, but I appreciated the safety precautions, and I managed. Fast forward to a few hours later, and I was pushing out my nine-pound baby while wearing a mask. As soon as she was out, all of the anxiety that I had leading up to delivering in a pandemic was gone — I had done it! Until two days later, that is, when we were home and reality set in. Here I was, postpartum in a pandemic, with no visitors allowed and no one in my home to help me once my husband went back to work. For myself, and new moms everywhere, I cried. This cannot be our “new normal.”
We have all heard the term “new normal” more times than we’d like over the past few months. Masks are the new normal. Social distancing is the new normal. Standing six feet apart from anyone we come in contact with is the new normal. I don’t know about you, but nothing about this feels normal to me. When the newborn hospitalist came to speak with us about taking precautions after going home with our baby, it hit me that our “new normal” was going to be weird — no visitors inside of the home unless they’ve been quarantined for two weeks, no one should hold the baby, and our family should stay isolated from the outside world (my husband was scheduled to go back to work in two weeks, so this already felt like too much to ask). Pre-pandemic, anyone telling a new mom to isolate herself would basically be prescribing a mom with a postpartum mood disorder. Now, medical professionals are saying it without a second thought. “Lots of FaceTime!” they say with a smile. “But I can’t take a nap while my three kids are watched over FaceTime,” I’d think.
Navigating the fourth trimester is always difficult, but the added stressors of the pandemic are enough to put any mom on edge. This cannot be “the new normal.” We need our village. We need people to drop off a meal AND give us a hug. We need someone to come over and watch the kids so we can take a nap. We need to be able to wander around Target once our husbands get home from work if just to get an hour without anyone touching us. We need our families to meet our babies without the barrier of a glass door.
Sadly, yes, this might be our current normal, but I refuse to believe it’ll be like this long term. One day, we will have visitors again. We will hold babies without wearing masks so they can see our smiles, and we will be able to take our children places without fear of contracting this virus.
This is hard, and this might be our “current normal,” but it will not be forever.