April 10, 2020 had been marked on my calendar for close to three months. This was the day that our son was scheduled to be born via c-section. I had everything planned: activities we were going to do with our 4 year-old before his baby brother arrived, which family members would come to stay at our house while we were at the hospital and after, how to handle all the visitors and outings, and so much more.
But then COVID-19 happened and all my plans flew out the window.
I really started to get concerned about a month before the scheduled c-section, when they told me my husband could not come to anymore of my OB appointments. I was considered high risk due to hypertension and had to go in weekly for non-stress tests and check-ins with my doctor or midwife. I wanted him with me to hear the heartbeat and see the movement on the monitor, I needed him there to hold my hand just in case, but he couldn’t be, so I put on a brave face and managed the last 3 weeks of appointments on my own.
We had planned on spending our last couple weeks as a family of three enjoying Duluth–the trampoline park, aquarium, train museum, and lots of time out and about with our son. Instead we had to pull him from preschool to quarantine at home for 2 weeks before my c-section (we only drove each other a little crazy). I got nervous about going into labor early so my sister decided to move into our basement and quarantine with us so when baby did come she’d be available to watch big brother and help out after; she us currently staying with us for the foreseeable future and, bonus, she is a photographer so we got our newborn pictures done at home!
As April 10th drew closer I had so many questions about the delivery process during quarantine. Who could come visit us? Would my husband be able to be in the operating room? How long would we be there? Could my husband leave and come back? The answers to all of these hospital questions changed daily and added to my stress and worry.
My last appointment before the big day was a turning point. As I entered the hospital alone, I had my temperature taken and was asked to wear a mask until I was in the exam room. My doctor, who’s smiling face was always reassuring, was covered with a mask my entire appointment. He told me that my husband would be by my side the entire time I was in the hospital and every precaution was being taken to keep me and my baby safe while we were there.
Finally, the big day arrived. We entered through the Emergency Room (the only entrance currently open to the public) wearing our homemade masks. They took our temperature and asked us a long list of questions. Have you been out of the country? Have you been on a cruise ship or in contact with anyone recently on a cruise ship? Do you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath? Have you been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19? Finally, after calling up to Labor and Delivery to confirm we were supposed to be there, they let us in. It had been such a strange intake experience–there was not a single person other person in the emergency waiting room.
Once we settled into my room it became very clear that this would be a very different hospital experience from my first c-section. Anyone who entered the room was required to wear a mask with goggles or a face shield. It was weird not being able to see my nurses’ faces. Only their smiling eyes greeted me throughout our stay. The nurses carried their brown paper bags of allotted N95 masks for the day into the OR with me just in case I needed to be intubated and they needed to change their PPE out. My husband was able to be with me during my c-section, something I was thankful for as other hospitals in harder hit parts of the country were restricting this due to shortages of PPE. Everything went smoothly and baby was born healthy and screaming at 8:26am on 4/10/2020.
Our little quarantine baby had arrived!
The rest of our stay was pretty routine except for everyone wearing masks when they entered the room. No one was able to visit which was actually kind of a blessing because I was able to rest up and bond with my baby and husband for the first 48 hours without having to worry about entertaining visitors and covering up when trying to nurse. I was a little sad that our 4-year-old home in quarantine was not able to come and meet his new brother in the hospital, but he was the first one to meet him via video chat and our return home was that much more special.
My husband stayed in the room except for a couple of times he ran down to the ER entrance to get takeout he ordered or to the cafeteria for coffee and a snack. We were able to go home after a two-day stay–usually c-sections stay for 3 days, but we were both doing well and they were trying to get people in and out as soon as quickly as they could. Natural birth moms and babies were out the door in less than 24 hours in some cases!
Our return home on Easter Sunday was highlighted by big brother finally meeting his baby brother! It was love at first sight. He may be currently a little jealous of all the time baby gets with mom but we are working on carving out one-on-one time with him as much as we can.
It has now been more than 2 weeks since baby was born and we still haven’t had visitors. The only place we’ve gone is to the pediatrician for weight checks. There, only one parent is allowed in and must wear a mask. You call from your car and they come out to get you when the room is ready. They take the parent’s temperature in the room, and the appointment is done in a very timely fashion, I wish they would keep this procedure for newborns even after COVID-19 precautions are lifted!
Over all, giving birth during a global pandemic has gone smoother than I originally thought it would. We are hunkered down at home and soaking in all the time we get with the new baby. The only thing that has really gotten to me is that our family has only been able to meet baby through video chat. I know it has been just as hard on our parents and siblings not being able to come and see the newest addition to our family. I truly am thankful that my sister has been here to help out; I’d probably be a complete mess right now without her and my husband.
To all the soon-to-be moms out there who will birth during quarantine, you are not alone. Doctors, nurses, and hospitals are doing everything they can to ensure that you and baby are safe and healthy. Make sure to keep up to date on the restrictions and rules of the maternity wing at your hospital. All of this will be over at some point, and we will all be able to celebrate our quarantine babies with our friends and family soon! Until then enjoy your little one and the sweet family time you get to have.