Updated: May 14
My husband and I first found out that we were expecting on Valentines Day, 2020. Little did we know that about a month later, our world was about to be turned upside down by a worldwide pandemic: COVID-19.
When we first found out that we were expecting our first child, we were planning on going to all of my prenatal appointments together, shopping for baby's nursery in fun stores, and planning a baby shower with lots of family and friends. We never could have imagined that, in the very near future, my husband would not be able to come to any of my prenatal appointments (including hearing baby's heartbeat for the first time), baby stores would be closed, and my baby shower plans would have to be delayed, possibly cancelled for good.
Still, I have found some ways to navigate through this difficult time. It is stressful and uncertain for anyone, regardless of whether or not they're planning on bringing a new life into the world anytime soon. Even though I did not originally know about the added struggles that a pandemic would add onto my preganany worries, I do not for a second regret getting pregnant. I would do it all over again, because I have grown so much as a person, and as a future mother, through this trying time. I hope that my experiences and thoughts can help you through this pandemic, especially if you are expecting, too!
Expecting the Unexpected
I am currently 15 weeks pregnant, which means that I was around the 7 week mark when the COVID-19 pandemic started getting real. Even at that early stage in my pregnancy, I started thinking about what I could do to provide my baby with the best and most stable living situation once he were here. How could I prepare for the unexpected? How could I diaper my baby if others were stockpiling disposbale diapers, leaving none on the store shelves? How could I cut costs as much as possible for baby necessities in the event that my husband or I would no longer be paid by our employers? These and many other questions flooded my mind.
The answers to most of my questions could be summed up in one word: sustainability. While my husband and I had already valued this concept, the current situation gave us even more reason to pursue it. We had to expect the unexpected - perhaps a world in which we couldn't expect to go out and buy whatever we needed whenever we needed it. I realized that by cloth diapering and breastfeeding our baby, I could pursue a more self-sufficient, sustainable approach to baby's early months and years, thus helping us to whether the storm of financial and economic uncertainty (while being better for the environment at the same time!)
I researched cloth diapering and ordered a supply of pocket diapers and inserts, so that I can have a more sustainable way of diapering baby, rather than having to rely on stores to have disposable diapers on hand when I need them. The cloth diapers can be washed and reused many times, even for all of baby's diapering days if cared for properly. Aside from this aspect, cloth diapering ends up being much more cost effective than constantly buying disposbale diapers.
As for breastfeeding, this will (hopefully) eliminate the need for buying formula. This means that I don't have to worry about struggling to get my hands on yet another product that may be hard to find in stock at the superstore. It will also save us from paying for another fairly-expensive baby necessity. Plus, breastfeeding will boost baby's immune system and give him all of the nutrients he needs, along with countless other benefits.
Doing What We Can
While we cannot possibly forsee all of the events that will continue to unfold as a result of COVID-19, we can do what we can do to be prepared. This means that while my husband and I may not be able to go around to all of the baby stores and shop for cribs at the moment, we can prepare the family heirloom cradle we received as a wedding gift, as a back-up plan for baby to sleep in.
We can stock up on a few onesies and sleepers for baby, so that baby will have some basics to wear even if I am unable to have a baby shower before he is born. We can also have a few bottles ready, a few pacifiers, some swaddles, a little of everything that is an absolute must.
Rather than dwelling on what we can't do that we would like to, we are trying to instead focus on doing those things that we can do, and that feels empowering.
Accepting the Situation
Acceptance has become a strong theme for me in these past couple of months. I have come to accept the things that I cannot change. No matter how hard I try, I cannot undo this pandemic. I cannot make it stop, or make it go away. If I could, I would, not just for my own sake but especially for those who have been suffering so much more than I have because of it - those who are sick, those who are loosing loved ones.
While my heart breaks for those who are being personally affected by this virus, I know that I cannot change it. All I can do is try to prepare for the future, and use the skills I have to be a part of the aid work, a part of the hope.
Joining a Cause
The biggest way that I have been able to stay sane in these crazy times and keep the anxiety from taking over is by joining a cause to somehow help with this situation. I learned that I could make cloth face masks to donate to various organizations, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It's something small, but it is something that I can do to help. It makes me feel purposeful, needed, and even essential.
(If you want to know how to make these cloth masks, also visit Make Your Own Masks!)
If you are struggling right now with the stress of the pandemic, whether you are currently expecting or not, I encourage you to join a cause. Get involved, somehow, in helping the relief efforts. Maybe that means calling others to lift their spirits, donating to nonprofit organizations, or volunteering in some capacity within your community to provide critical services. Whatever your niche may be, use it to help others. For me, I've found that takes the focus off of myself and my worries, and puts the focus onto the bigger picture. After all, we are all in this together. We need eachother's help now more than ever. You have a choice: you can contribute the doom and gloom, or you can be a piece of the hope we all need.
Through all of this, the greatest hope I have is that in just a few months, I will have my baby in my arms. Nothing, not even a pandemic, will delay his entrance into the world. When he is ready to say hello to this world, he will. That gives me so much hope. Even in the midst of such uncertain times, there are joyful moments to look forward to. I cannot wait to meet my baby for the first time. I cannot wait to see his first smile, watch his first steps, and hear his first words. All of this hope overpowers any anxiety or stress I may be feeling.
And there are not just joyful moments to look forward to in the future. There are joyful moments everyday - everywhere! Difficult times like this may make it hard to open our eyes and look around at the beauty around us, but it is there. It always has been and always will be. There are still sunrises, sunsets, perfect blue skies, the fresh scent of spring. For all of the difficulty in life, there is more beauty, more joy, more love.
Focus on the beauty. Focus on the joy. Focus on the love. And we will all get through this together. Life is still good, and new life is still being created.