SLOWING DOWN, QUIETING, HEALING…
For parents this is one of the most important moments in their lives. And, such is true for our newborns too. Katie had mentioned how she wanted to get a newspaper from the day her twin boys were born. The headline would read as something otherworldly (hopefully) many years from now. Worldwide pandemic. Complete lock-down. Thousands dead. Tens of thousands dead.
That’s the day you were born.
It would be easy to look back, say twenty years from now, and be horrified by what transpired. There is a lot beyond what has been mentioned here to rightfully be horrified about, and many people and practices to be vilified in length, but not in this piece. But, maybe they will look back and see the vigor within the panic. The power that came from this unique pain.
Tyler Glass elected to have a home-birth because of Covid. She was concerned with not being able to have a partner with her during delivery, as well as the myriad of other things that could go wrong. Midway through her pregnancy, Tyler spoke to her OBGYN and voiced her concerns. During one of her visits, after Tyler pressed the issue of a home-birth, the doctor agreed. Tyler was low-risk. She should have the home-birth. So, Tyler started seeing a midwife. She was all set up for a home-birth, but her son to be born, Parker, had other plans.
We were supposed to photograph Tyler’s home-birth. It was going to be a magical time for her and she wanted it documented but her birth plan went out the window.
“It’s a blur but I went into labor Monday, it got more intense Monday night, woke up Tuesday and was still having contractions but they spaced out to about 10-15 min apart and stayed that way overnight,” Tyler said.
This kept up throughout Wednesday and into Thursday when Tyler couldn’t take it anymore and went to the hospital. She hadn’t slept since Tuesday night.
“We went to the hospital, got an epidural, they broke my water, I slept and progressed. I woke up and pushed for an hour and a half and Parker was born. "Parker did a short stint in the NICU because he was growth-restricted in utero and couldn't keep his temperature high enough for a couple of days. He was born 4lbs 10 oz and had trouble breathing right at birth. He is now home healthy and happy,” Tyler said.
While the rest of LA panicked about all things Covid, Long Beach was quiet. In a stark contrast to what other mothers were experiencing, there were no issues registering as a patient for Cristin and no issues with Derrick coming and going from her hospital room.
The thing that Cristin and Derrick have in common with most parents and new ones at that is, that they wish family could be around. But with no end in sight for Covid, they wonder when family will meet Baby Dominic.
Cristin, her husband Derrick, and their newborn Dominic (Dom), have found comfort and humor in the extra time together, but also sensible emboldenment. They are careful and concerned, but they will not be afraid. They are filled with life and love, and you get a sense that no matter how long they are trapped at home that will never change.
Debbie and her husband Kevin, had an unusually positive experience when their child, Crosby, was born, despite all that was going on while having a baby during the pandemic. Their delivery was actually delightful. But, something that shouldn’t be overlooked is the struggles that many mothers have had leading up to giving birth. The stress of dealing with the Covid virus, the lock-down, the unknown, and also giving birth in weeks to come.
“Instantly, I went from having a very social pregnancy to complete isolation with my husband and dog in Santa Monica. At eight months pregnant, my weekly PT and acupuncture appointments came to a halt, my prenatal yoga classes went virtual, and my husband was no longer allowed to attend our (now) weekly doctors appointments,” Debbie said.
Stress can build. Spread. But, stress and fear is different for all of us during this. We approach it the best way we know how, and then the world grabs us and tosses everything upside down.
Vanessa had a vision for an intervention-free natural birth. It would take more than a pandemic to stop her. But, her child was not ready to enter the world yet.
“On a routine check, they noticed her heart rate did not tolerate a contraction well. Actually, it didn't tolerate it at all. They admitted me immediately to be induced. Over the next 5 days, they tried every single medical induction technique that exists (not an exaggeration) multiple times. My body was not ready to go into labor. Throughout it all, Logan continued telling us she wouldn't do well in active labor on her own,” Vanessa said.
Unfortunately, it would stop there. Even after Vanessa’s water broke and all involved were through the roof that she was finally going to deliver, another contraction and they lost the baby’s heartbeat altogether.
“It became a blur. Doctors, residents, and nurses everywhere. Oxygen, monitors, medication to stop the contractions that sent me into convulsions, and finally, a cesarean. It was not what I wanted for either of us… Logan was telling us something and we had to listen. I realized parenting wasn't about what I envisioned for us that I felt was best, it was about making the best choice in the moment to keep your child safe,” Vanessa said.
It’s an especially strange time because being safe means staying away from people. Many times those very people, the family and friends, are the ones you counted on to keep you safe. Even the institutions that we equate with safety, like hospitals, have been deemed unsafe. While they may be the case, many people are finding a new sense of safety within the relationships close and far. Most importantly within yourself, and within your small family.
There’s definitely a parallel to be made between the forced isolation of the epidemic and the isolation we’ve seen so many people moving toward across the country and globe in recent years, edging into a more isolated society. But, then we are forced apart. Ripped away from seeing some who are most precious in our lives. Yet, when we look at these mother and fathers, and their newborn children, we see that we are more connected than ever.
There’s not just hope, there’s rebirth. New life. Not only with our new babies, but with each of us. And, the cool thing about all the awfulness is that we are all in it together. Globally. There are mothers in Nairobi, and in Spain, and in Japan, and in Brazil, and in Sweden, and in Canada, and in the next state over, and in the city over, and in the next neighborhood over, and in the next house over.
Connection comes in many forms. Sometimes the deepest connections develop out of an unexpected change. Something you wouldn’t have done otherwise. Something you wish you hadn’t had to go through. But, because of it, you are stronger for it. And, you are connected in a special way to all those that joined you in the similar struggle. Know that you are seen, because you are not alone. The mothers delivering during the pandemic were at times very much alone, but they were also part of a massive community of awesome women who gave birth during this unique time. They will always have that connection.
Vanessa, and her husband John, brought home their healthy happy baby, Logan, a few days after the birth. When Logan was ready.
“I kind of liked that I wasn't missing out on the world. It was if it had all stopped with us. The whole world was in the 4th trimester. Slowing down, quieting, healing… Maybe this is the best time to have a newborn.”
NOTE: There was much more to the beautiful, brave, and amazing stories that these women shared, but it was impossible to include it all. We encourage you to check out each person’s full story that they shared via email, and maybe even connect if you feel like doing so. Each individual story received will be share in a future blog post.