Labor, Delivery & COVID-19: Giving birth during a global pandemic
May 2020 | by jamie blotske
March 27, 2020, at 4:54pm, we welcomed our third baby boy into the world. As the nurse brought him to my chest, and I held him in my arms for the very first time, I wept. He was finally here, he was perfect, and he was safe.
He is an answer to prayer, a dream come true, and a beautiful completion to our family.
What was one of the most joyous moments in our lives was also a bit lonely and sad and hard. Being in this position before, with the birth of our two older boys, we knew what we were walking into, and therefore, we had expectations. We expected my doula to be there, to coach, encourage, and make sure I was drinking plenty of liquids. We expected my photographer to take photos of our baby in his first 48 hours of life. We expected family and close friends to come to visit and celebrate with us. We expected our boys to meet their baby brother and help give him his first bath in our hospital room. We expected to walk out of our room whenever need be to grab a popsicle from the refrigerator. But COVID-19 stole all of that from us.
What to Expect With Expectations
Unmet expectations almost always result in disappointment, anger, or hurt. If there is one lesson I've learned, again and again, it's this: be careful with your expectations. Life doesn't always play by your rules. It's hard not to have expectations in certain situations, especially when it comes to having a baby. I don't think it's wrong to have those expectations, but I think flexibility and adaptability should be your back-up plan. Did we mourn our unmet expectations? Certainly. Did we bounce back right away? Not necessarily. Did we end up seeing the big picture and begin to count our blessings? Absolutely!
Count it All Joy
Delivering our baby during the spread of the coronavirus was obviously not ideal. There was a lot of uncertainty, and definitely some moments of fear. There was also a lot of frustration on our end. We just wanted things to be "normal," but the reality is that things aren't "normal" right now, and what's most important is everyone's health and safety.
As we held our baby boy in our quiet little hospital room, watching his chest rise and fall with each breath, smelling his newborn skin, helping him breastfeed, and taking in every tiny detail from head to toe, we quickly realized how beautiful life is. We began to see the bright side in all of it. We had this moment in time, just the three of us. A moment we will never have back. We had a healthy and beautiful baby boy. I had a smooth delivery with absolutely no complications. My husband was with me, by my side, through it all, not waiting in the hospital parking lot to meet his newborn child for the first time, as I have found out some husbands have had to do in other countries. We had the most amazing midwife and nurses. Their number one priority was our safety. We had no doubts that we were all in the best of hands. We were able to go home just 24 hours after delivery. We were greeted at the door by two very eager and excited big brothers. In the end, there was a lot to smile about and smile we did. We found joy, peace, and comfort despite the chaos that surrounded us. What was technically "stolen" from us was given back in full, plus more, we just needed the time to mourn in order to move on and see the big picture.
Living that Quarantine Life
We are home, adjusting to life as a family oaf five! Three boys under the age of 4 is a handful and then some. While we do miss our usual routine, our outings, our time with friends, etc. we have found some appreciation for the self-quarantine that COVID-19 has forced us into. I, for one, am extremely thankful for all the time my husband has been home to help me as an exhausted mama to a newborn and two energetic toddlers. I have also noticed a sweet little bond form between my husband and our middle child. His extra time at home has been good for all of us.
Life has significantly slowed down, and while that has been difficult on my extrovert self, it has given me the space to reflect and re-prioritize. Our faith has been tested, and it has grown. We have all remained healthy, and for that, we are most thankful as that has not been the case for so many across the nation.
I get it. I completely understand. There are so many mixed emotions right now as you prepare to give birth. Please know that it is okay to feel it all, to be a little afraid; but also understand that the hospital, doctors, nurses, and staff are on your side and doing everything in their power to keep you and your baby safe.
Combat your fears with faith. Have faith in the greater good that is at work, the gift of life. Follow the rules. They are there to protect you and your child. Lastly, let go of your expectations and look for the simple joys, the ones that are often overlooked during this process. This is such a fleeting time in life. Before you know it, your baby will be a toddler, headed to high school, graduating from college, getting married, and in a delivery room with your grandbaby. So enjoy it, soak it all in. One thing is for sure, we will never forget that time we had a baby during the temporary reign of ‘rona!
Jamie Blotske and husband, Chet, have 3 small children and happily call Billings their home. She is extremely passionate about the great outdoors and is a graduate of MSU-Billings with a bachelor's degree in Outdoor Adventure Leadership. Her family is currently in pursuit of hiking in all 50 states, and you can follow along on the family blog (thebackpackingblotskes.com) or Instagram (@thebackpackingblotskes).