Don’t Call My Baby A Quarantine Baby

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When my husband and I got married in August of 2019 we had already put plans in place to get pregnant right after our first year of marriage. We both so wanted a baby. The world was so different then. We skipped the ‘big wedding’ and opted to run away to Jamaica with eight of our closest friends to say “I do” in paradise. We’ve always had such big plans for our future and nothing felt impossible.

A large part of foregoing the ‘big wedding’ was thinking strategically about buying a home in our first year of marriage. We had a growing business, great careers, and big plans that required more space. Everything had always gone exactly like we wanted it to. Little did we know the first year of marriage would be anything but expected.

In March of 2020 we’d been married seven amazing months. Our business (BluffCakes) was taking off, my husband made an incredible career move, and I was thriving in my own career.  The world was safe, predictable, and just as we wanted it. So much so my husband (who’d been begging me to have a baby since before we were even engaged) began jokingly saying “Don’t you think we could move it up just a little bit? What’s five more months going to change!?”

We had no idea.

On the second week of March everyone’s lives changed. The world was catapulted into the reality of Pandemic Panic. Families and friends split over what and who to believe. Infections were rising daily. Death tolls, mask wearing, and “did you hear who got it” became a natural part of small talk. Then the world just stopped. My husband, a general manager of a fine dining restaurant, was suddenly without a job. Our six year old, my stepson, Kindergartener’s first year of real school was suddenly replaced with zoom calls at the kitchen table. My mother, with a long history of two battles with brain cancer, was now deemed high-risk and moved in with us to create a quarantine pod.

Nobody knew what was really safe anymore. Nobody knew how to plan for anything anymore. Our dreams to buy a house and have a baby felt shattered. Worst of all, nobody knew when life would ever go back to normal. Time marched on. We hit an unexpected amount of success with our business delivering baked goods across Memphis to people facing grocery store shortages. My husband found a new job, one even better than what he had before. Between business success, lack of spending during quarantine, and fortunate career moves we ended up in a fantastic position to buy our dream home.

We had put the “baby talk” on the back burner when the world stopped. It was a touchy subject for the months following the onset of the pandemic. I knew how badly my husband wanted a baby. I wanted it just as much. Well before we were married we had begun stockpiling little items here and there. A pair of baby shoes. A stuffed llama. A blanket hand-knit by a friend. We labeled it “The Baby Sexton Box” and laughed when one of us would find a new item had been secretly added.

So much had been taken from us during our first year of marriage. Every day was filled with the anxiety of wondering if things were suddenly going to get so much worse. Yes, the world felt scarier and more unpredictable than ever, but should fear really keep us from moving on with our lives? On Father’s Day, just weeks before our first anniversary, I surprised my husband with my decision.

“Let’s do this. I want to have a baby. I don’t want to put our lives on hold.” He fell to pieces in the sweetest of ways. Tears of joy and shock followed, and we both finally got to feel like we weren’t simply waiting for this part of our lives to be over but instead were living for the next great chapter in our marriage.

In September we announced that we were expecting Theodore Robin Sexton in May.

pregnant mom

By now, you’ve seen the tacky onesies (no hate to parents or babies involved) sporting “Mommy And Daddy Didn’t Social Distance!” or “This Is What Happens In Quarantine!” Yes, we had more than a few friends announce their pregnancies during this time, but these babies were starting to be treated like an “oopsie” or a trend.

I faced questions from my side of the family. Was this really intended? Had we considered the risks? The worst of what I experienced came from Tik Tok. Over quarantine I took our baking business and some free time to share our lives on the app. We gained more than 100,000 followers in less than three months. This was an incredible experience for so many reasons but with that came so very many insults.

When my pregnancy became public on Tik Tok I received an overwhelming amount of support and congratulations. I also suddenly became a verbal punching bag for everyone who decided just by looking at me that Theo was a Quarantine Baby mistake. They told me I was an unfit mother. They told me I was selfish and horrible for bringing an infant into the world during a pandemic. To some of these comments I made responses. I’m not known across any platform for holding my tongue and this was enough to get me enraged.

It wasn’t until an internet troll (too shy to use a real name or profile picture of course) chose to message me and tell me “if your baby dies from COVID I hope you know you deserve it” that I began blocking anyone who mentioned the subject.

My son is our dream come true. I have spent the majority of my life focusing on my career, stabilizing my future, and always making the smartest moves possible to set my life up for success. I’m choosing to have my baby at home instead of in a hospital to further remove myself and him from risk. Before getting pregnant we not only owned our own home but had both surpassed generations of family history of financial struggle and thrived DESPITE A PANDEMIC. I could go on and on about our 401ks or our competitive life insurance, our lawyer, our wills – but you know what?

NONE OF THAT IS ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS.

Why did I get pregnant? Why couldn’t I wait until after a pandemic? Am I being smart? Guess what?! That doesn’t *bleeping* matter! This is my body. This is my choice. This is my life. As much as I will fight for and defend a woman’s right to choose not to be pregnant – I will fight for her right to BE pregnant. Internet trolls will come and go.

pregnant couple excited about their baby

Our Tik Tok following has doubled since early quarantine and I’ve faced hate and praise for everything I do. If there’s one thing I will absolutely NOT be teaching my sons it is to care for one second what anyone thinks of you. This is my body. This is my baby. And I will continue to be the happiest I’ve ever been no matter what you think.

So please, be more respectful of the pregnant women around you. We are isolated, struggling, TIRED OH DEAR GOD SO TIRED, and the last thing we want to hear is a crummy joke about our “oopsie” babies. Love us (from a distance), support us, and celebrate these new lives without question.

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Chloe Joy Sexton is a recent Midtown to Cordova transplant and is adjusting to suburban life… slowly. She’s a former TV news producer turned Content Specialist for RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy. Married to 117 Prime General Manager, Tyler Sexton, and (step)mom to Mason (August 2014), Chloe spends most of her time balancing her blended family life, career, and growing her baking business, BluffCakes. Any spare time is probably spent running, reading, at a PTA function, or writing a blog on her site bluffcakes.com. She is a lover of all things made in Memphis, women’s rights, NPR, philanthropy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.