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Real Women, Real Stories: Pandemic Edition - Maternity Leave Alongside a Global Pandemic

Intro by Lisa Butler: Bringing your first child into the world is a life-changing event that you'll never forget. Most of us have a vision of what we want it to look like and plans for how we will spend our maternity leave. More often than not, that vision doesn't become the perfect reality, even under 'normal' circumstances. However, many of the expecting moms of 2020 never could have predicted spending their maternity leave alongside a global pandemic. Many of the clients I have worked with this past year who became first-time moms during COVID-19 feel that they were robbed of many experiences that they cannot get back. Our next blog story is written by Meg Minkler, who had her first baby in January 2020, not long before the COVID pandemic was declared a state of emergency. Below she shares her very real emotions and experiences about having a baby alongside the pandemic and the impact it had on her and her family.

mom with newborn baby
Discover this real story of a woman navigating maternity leave alongside the pandemic. Join us as Meg Minkler shares her emotional journey and the impact on her family.

Short-Lived Pre Covid-19 Newborn Life

January 22, 2020 - ‘back in normal life’ as we say in our house, also the day Lilly was born. No masks, no social distancing, visitors allowed at the hospital and at home. I remember being worried about the flu, RSV, and whooping cough since she was a January baby. Of course, we had no clue what was coming. That month and half home prior to the pandemic seemed to fly by like one huge blur. Trying to get out when we could. Family walks when it wasn’t too cold, going out to restaurants, really trying to enjoy this time as much as we could and make the most out of my husband’s paternity leave.

Brand New Mom Life in a Global Pandemic

March 13th, 2020 came and the pandemic was declared; everything seemed to stand still. For me, just the sheer unknown fear of Covid-19 was very hard to grasp. Newborn life can be socially isolating in the best of times but it took on a whole new meaning by adding a global pandemic into the mix. I was in my own bubble of new mom world with feedings, naps, texting questions to friends at all hours and trying to bond with our new tiny human. It was very difficult to even keep up with the news and local county restrictions. Everything about it was just too much.

First-time newborn adventures seemed to be on hold with no end in sight. The 4th trimester, as this time is often called, was partially in our pre-COVID life and partially in lockdown. I really couldn’t help but feel like we were being robbed of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences with our new baby. I often found myself thinking of my friends and being so jealous they didn’t have to go through this when they had newborns. Being a new mom in the middle of a pandemic seemed lonely. The extra time with my friends and family that I had dreamed about was being put on the back burner indefinitely. For me, there was a definite baby blues period or heightened anxiety that occurred but it seemed to come later than what was typical, coinciding more with the lockdown, little sleep and being overwhelmed without any real help. I decided then to set up every other week zoom calls with one of my amazing nurse practitioners and that helped tremendously.

Having my husband working from home at first was another huge adjustment -I always felt so bad when he was on calls with Lilly screaming in the background. How do you keep an infant from crying when she was hungry, fussy, needs burping or comforting? I would try to be outside on walks as much as possible; fresh air was always helpful. As we became more adjusted to the working-from-home concept, a silver lining emerged - we were able to spend more time together daily as a family. Had this been in pre-covid times, my husband would have never been home as much and unable to spend that much extra time with Lilly. Being a new mom during the spread of COVID-19 was frightening and challenging, but we did have time together as a family that we will never get back.

Powering Through

Somehow, I made it through the unprecedented times with my infant. We got into a routine and that helped. Without even thinking you just power through the hard times. All the moms out there should be commended - 2020 was not easy and we are still being cautious in 2021! I would not have survived without the small things -Facetime with family and friends, walks in our neighborhood to see our best friends from a distance, neighborhood friends who also had babies, zoom happy hours, getting out for fresh air, Peloton rides, coffee, and wine.

Expecting Baby #2…but wait, it's still a global pandemic?!

Lilly turned one and then soon I found out I was expecting baby girl #2, due in September. I was excited but also very nervous because at that point the vaccine rollout was just in the beginning stages. Masks and social distancing were still mandated and there was barely any information on the vaccines and the effects on pregnancy. Though it did seem like a very small light at the end of the tunnel, especially after what our family had been through as well as what our country had been through. I truly feel like now we know how to be safe and live a somewhat normal life with mask-wearing, social distancing and quarantining - all things we never thought about before that are now talked about daily. My husband is safely back in the office with his routine, which I know he likes. Finally, good news came from the trials in pregnant women so there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to get the vaccine. Pregnancy the second time around is going to be so different, going from one extreme to another. Now with mask restrictions being lifted and so many people getting vaccinated, it seems like we're getting back to normal. Though at one time, we felt like we would never get to this point, and now we are here.

Thank you so much to all the healthcare workers!


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