SIMPLE BECOMES DIFFICULT AND DIFFICULT BECOMES SIMPLE
There are many things newborns are missing out on that they would have experienced. The exposure to love from friends, family, and even passing strangers. The sights, and colors, and sounds, and smells that would fill their days outside of their lock-down premises. But, one of the strange things that some newborns who were birthed at home are missing, is documentation that they were born at all.
"We still need to get a birth certificate, but can't do so until we can get an appointment with someone. Because we don't have a birth certificate, we don't have a social security number for Sedona,” said Carolyn, who still had no birth certificate over months since giving birth.
This is Carolyn, and her husband David’s, second child. Her first, Willow, is a joyous, young social butterfly. They explained some of the surreal aspects they encountered because of the pandemic. The birth itself was pleasantly quick and relatively easy. They knew they wanted to have the birth at home and were prepared. When Carolyn started having contractions they contacted the midwife. Not long after, the midwife showed up. David answered the door to only two words from her, “Where’s momma?” Sedona was born twenty minutes later.
It wasn’t until they took Sedona to the hospital to get fully checked out that they encountered the Covid nightmare taking place. Due to the rush of people infected or trying to get tested the hospital was over-crowded. Carolyn wondered if the stress of the pandemic and lock-down could have triggered early labor, because there were so many women there to give birth, there wasn't enough rooms for them all. They walked past new mothers delivering their babies on a stretcher in the hospital hallway, with sheets held up to cover them from view.
“The hospital was a scary place to be,” Carolyn said. “Reflecting back, having her at home was exactly what I needed - it was in the comforts of my own own surrounded by the people I loved.”
And then, the department of records was closed and remains closed. As of writing this, Carolyn and David still had no way of officially registering Sedona as a birth. To get insurance for the child through work David had to take a letter typed up by the midwife stating there was a baby born. It could have literally been written by anyone. Luckily, his employers took exception and approved him to be covered. There’s no telling whether other parents who had home births have been so lucky.
While having a very different experience than mother’s who gave birth at a hospital, it was not without added difficulties. But, Carolyn sees both sides of it. As every single mother we spoke to has—amongst all the craziness and stress, there may also be benefits when it comes to the pandemic.
“The pandemic just intensified it all. Simple things became more difficult, but some difficult things became more simple. Because of the pandemic, my husband now works remote and having him available to help out on his lunch break, or to know that he can step away to be there, has been a positive change because I had worries about him having to go back to work, and being home with both kids by myself,” said Carolyn.
Katie Bressak had a similar experience. There was the universal thrill of realizing she had become pregnant. She and her husband, Jim, were extremely excited about having a baby. Singular. When they found out it going to be twins they were floored.
“It was also in that moment that I knew that I would never be in total control again. The fertility and pregnancy experience helped me learn how to let go, and although I didn't know then, I had built up resilience that would help serve me later while I was alone in the hospital for nearly four days,” said Katie.
There was that moment of How am I going to do this? It’s conspicuously similar to what any of us non-new parents are also going through. The freak outs, concerns, worries, and lack of control over what happens next. We’re all in it. These parents have a new baby to add to that mix. But, within this unfortunate mix, there has been an unforeseen opportunity.
“The extra time at home has allowed us to bond as a family without interruption, which has been a silver lining throughout all of this. Our "normal" lives involved work travel, meetings, and calls, which have been virtually eliminated over the last few months. Although it does add a bit of anxiety, we feel like we may never have this undivided time together again,” said Katie.
Another new mother, Rachel Tonick, expressed how much of a joy it was to have a work free, social free schedule to focus on learning more and more from her new born daughter Jaylyn.
“I am so thankful for this extra special time with our daughter. I was not planning on taking a maternity leave and this has forced me to focus on one thing and one thing only, my new baby. It’s amazing to know that I am not missing a beat of her growth. Some of the challenges encountered entering motherhood were made easier because my only tasks are taking care of baby,” said Rachel.
Rachel and her husband, Jeven, have been forced to take a break because of the pandemic. It would have been right back to work for them both. Instead they are finding the ability to enjoy the moment. Even though it’s a bleak moment in history, there is also plenty of brightness within these homes.