We had just heard about the coronavirus making its way to our borders. Perhaps there were already a few cases in America, but my hospital was still covid naïve; our first case was in early 2020. In February of 2020 I found out I was pregnant, but little did I know my pregnancy would look far different to what my friends had experienced with theirs. I had no idea I was about to have a pandemic pregnancy.
We were still learning about the coronavirus as at that time we had no data on its effects on pregnant mothers and fetuses, but I knew I had to protect my baby from day one. I started wearing a regular mask around the hospital at all times, especially when I was seeing patients. I vividly remember being stopped in the hallway by a nurse while she interrogated me on why I was wearing a mask. Was I sick? Did I have any viral symptoms? I explained it was a precautionary measure because I was pregnant, to which she stated there was no reason for me to wear a mask unless I was sick. I showed her my badge and politely told her to report me if she wanted but that mask was not coming off. A few days later the hospital announced an official mask policy; we were supposed to wear N-95 masks at all times. I was one step closer to protecting my baby.
All of a sudden, our intensive care units (ICU) were spilling over with sick covid patients and it seemed like we were in the thick of the pandemic. The country had officially announced this as a public health crisis, and things were only going to get worse. My husband was no longer allowed to accompany me to my obstetrics (OB) visits and I found myself in socially distanced waiting rooms where other future mothers were in a similar position. I face-timed my family during the anatomy fetal ultrasound from the OBs office; pivotal moments during pregnancy in which partners and families are usually right by a future mother’s side were experienced alone.
At work I was constantly involved in sick covid patients’ care. I love what I do and as far as I was taking all the precautions, I knew my baby would have been safe. As my belly grew outwards the pandemic only got worse. Our ICU looked like a war zone, where every patient was on the ventilator and every room was shut closed under covid precautions. No family members were allowed inside the hospital; the medical teams became patients’ biggest advocates and adopted families.
I was fortunate that our hospital policy allowed one visitor during the delivery. I had heard of many mothers who had delivered in solitude. Post-delivery our room was a party of three, perfect in a way, but definitely devoid of extended family.
The covid-19 pandemic was life-changing for all of us. It impacted every single human being in some way. People died alone, survived with complications, left behind loved ones whose world turned upside down, and nothing remains as it was.
As I was growing a life inside of me, the virus was preoccupied with creating havoc on the outside. But life goes on, we all continue to live to the best we can, and grow from all our experiences. If there is one thing that I have learned from the pandemic it is to completely savor today, fight for your health, and love your loved ones. As a physician I mourned my patient’s deaths, as a wife I wished my husband could have accompanied me to all the OB visits, as a daughter I wished my family could have been present for the delivery of my son, but as a mother I don’t want to change a single thing. My baby arrived safely, and at the end of the day this was the most important thing to me during my covid pregnancy.