Bryan thinks I miraculously planned it but I can assure you—Mila had every intention of coming into this world on April 2nd, not the 10th (the date she was scheduled) or even the 16th (our original due date). That Thursday morning, I went in for a routine checkup and at 9:05 that evening, we had given birth to our beautiful little baby girl. The non dramatic version of that story is that I had elevated blood pressure at my appointment and I was sent to the hospital for testing where my doctor recommended that I have a C-section that night. Since he was on call at the hospital we had originally chosen, I was completely on board. Also I knew coronavirus cases were on the rise across New Jersey and that all hospitals would likely see an influx in the weeks that followed. I didn’t want to take any chances and was happy to go in sooner rather than later.
As I’m sure you can imagine high blood pressure must be common for someone who already suffers with anxiety, and delivering a baby during a global pandemic turns out to be highly stressful! The hospital policies changed daily—and I obsessively checked the website for news. Would Bryan be allowed in the room with me? Could he leave? What do we do with Milo? These were all things we scrambled to put together at the 11th hour.
On the day we delivered, support people were allowed in the room but they couldn’t leave once admitted, which meant that Bryan couldn’t go home and return (thank goodness his family was able to stop by to take care of the pup). We were unable to leave our hospital room under any circumstances so a lot of the amenities that initially attracted us to the hospital in the first place were now made unavailable to us, like the nursery, though Mila still could visit. We were told Mila had friends there (ha!), and we took the advice of the nurses to bring her there when possible so we could get some rest.
It’s common to have a parade of nurses, doctors, and lactation consultants in and out of the room after a baby is born but since my stay was so short, the visits felt amped up—like they wanted us to be armed with as much info as possible since we wouldn’t have much help once we left. At one point I had a lactation consultant in the room for two hours, showing me how to use nipple shields and squeezing my boobs for colostrum, and I wanted to cry. I couldn’t get Mila to latch, I was exhausted, and I just found the whole ordeal very frustrating.
Anytime someone was in the room with us we had to put our masks on. Within 36 hours of my C-section, I was discharged (their main goal was to get us in and out as safely as possible). One of the nurses wheeled me out and had us throw a swaddle over Mila’s car seat, in case we passed anyone (though everyone in the hospital wore a face mask anyway). It was a sobering reminder of the world outside which we largely kept ourselves shielded from in our hazy baby bubble.
There are some things that are largely superficial that I’m sad we didn’t have the chance to experience—like maternity/newborn photos, sending an article of clothing home for Milo so he could get used to her scent, and having what I assume to be a normal hospital birth story to share–to be honest, everything about our stay was stressful and I was incredibly nervous to leave (but so insanely grateful for the nurses and staff at the hospital). As an extra superficial aside: my sister-in-law gifted me with the cutest Vera Bradley bag for Christmas because she wanted to make our birth extra special but I barely used any of the items I brought because I packed them before Covid-19 and they weren’t that useful. Also I was so paranoid about any of my personal items coming into the home that I must have sprayed an entire can of Lysol on that bag alone, ha!
The stuff that sticks–and the things I know will upset me for years to come–is the feeling of isolation and not being able to share this joy with friends and family. We surprised my parents with a visit on Easter Sunday and it broke my heart to tell my dad to stand back six feet, knowing they would be unable to hold their first grandchild until God knows when. They feel understandably cheated from the experience and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to make it better for them (though I so wish they would learn how to FaceTime or Zoom so I could at least video chat with them).
My friend joked that one day Mila will say “here we go with the coronavirus story again!” and I hope that one day comes and we can all laugh about this weird time that we experienced collectively—the whole world! But today I count my blessings—Mila is perfectly happy and healthy and the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And I had Bryan by my side to witness the birth of his daughter. In the grand scheme of things, nothing else really matters.