I found out I was pregnant for the first time just six short weeks after marrying my husband (oops). But with our second baby, we tried for close to a year before conceiving — and frustratingly, it took even longer to get pregnant with our third and fourth babies. Needless to say, I learned a long time ago there is never a perfect time to get pregnant, and even if there was, life doesn't work like that. This lesson was brought home even more starkly when, at the very beginning of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, I suffered a pregnancy loss. It was then I realized how badly I wanted another baby, and how during a time of so much worldwide pain and suffering, as well as dealing with my own personal loss, what we needed more than ever was the joy of expecting a little one.
My first reaction upon finding out I was pregnant again this past June was overwhelming gratitude and excitement. I'd be lying if I said these emotions weren't followed by a tinge of fear. After all, any time I looked at the news, I saw stories about how no one really knew yet how the virus would affect pregnant women and their babies — although many reports seemed to indicate COVID-19 wasn't passed along to the fetus. Still, pregnancy means immunosuppression, so of course I was now possibly more likely to get infected.
But here's the thing: this is not my first rodeo, and although every pregnancy is different, what they do share in common is a healthy amount of anxiety. Sure, being pregnant during a pandemic is scary, but there are a million other reasons to worry when you're building a fragile, little human being. If we weren't facing a pandemic, it's not as though that would mean everything would definitely go smoothly. After my miscarriage, I learned nothing is guaranteed.
I have even found that being pregnant during a pandemic has its advantages. For one, in quarantine, it was easy to hide my pregnancy until I was ready to reveal the news to family and friends, something that was particularly important given my recent miscarriage. But now that my belly is big and there's no more keeping it under wraps, I can get away with wearing stretchy pants and other comfy clothes since, yeah, we're still at home all the time. Finally, it's a blessing that after 13 years of marriage, my husband is working from home for the very first time. Actually, during the pandemic is the only time his commute has been shorter than two hours each way — these days he walks from the bed to his desk! And with all of his extra time, he can fix me a plate of Velveeta shells and cheese on demand; or pancakes, or refried beans, or whatever I happen to be craving that day.
All of this considered, I still very much feel for pregnant people who have to go to prenatal appointments alone — my doctor's office allows partners to accompany patients, but I know this can vary depending on the practice. And obviously there are drawbacks to being pregnant during such an uncertain time. I wonder if I'll have to wear a face mask during my delivery, and whether my children can visit me and their new sibling in the hospital. Still, in the end, I wouldn't change a thing about the timing of this pregnancy. This baby has been one of the only bright spots during such a bleak time in our lives. And besides, who knows what would have happened if we waited to get pregnant — it may have taken years like with my other children, or it may not have ever happened at all. All I can do is feel grateful and hope and pray I'll hold a healthy baby in my arms early next year.