In June of 2020 my husband and I decided to start a family— during a pandemic, of all times. Neither of us felt incredibly sure about the timing, but, as my primary care physician wisely pointed out, I am 33 years old, so if I want to have a couple of kids I might want to get started.
I know of mothers who wait far longer than I did to start their families, but I was starting to feel the pressure of my age. A preconception check up with my doctor was the first thing on my list before we officially started trying. Setting an appointment was a startlingly difficult task as I hadn’t already established an OB-GYN before COVID-19 hit. I called ten doctors, or more, before finding one who seemed both promising and who was seeing new patients. Our first appointment was virtual.
“At our age, it’s a good idea to start trying if you want to have one or two,” the doctor told me. “If you’d asked me a few months ago whether it was safe to try, I would have said ‘no.’ Now I feel like it’s fine.”
The in person preconception check that followed turned out well and I was encouraged to start trying to conceive. Just one thing though…the insurance that I shared with my husband was only going to be available to us for a couple more months. He’d lost his job as a visiting lecturer at the University of Toledo due to COVID. After the grace period was up, we’d be faced with continuing the coverage through COBRA, or finding a plan through the Marketplace. After grueling research regarding several plans, I ultimately decided it was best retainng the health plan through COBRA, a monthly cost that is basically half of my income.
We were less stable financially than we had ever been, so it is hard to say why we made the decision to get pregnant during a pandemic, other than the fact that we don’t know when this is all going to end.
It’s now early 2021, roughly a year since the average American had first heard about COVID as a distant threat, a thing that was happening somewhere else, but still the daily caseloads are incredibly high. My husband and I chose to try because there was no way to know how long this thing— this anxiety-provoking, all-consuming thing— is going to last. It made sense for us to move forward, albeit cautiously, with our lives.
So we did! A month after that in person visit to the doctor’s where we got the okay, we conceived on the first try, much to our amazement and delight.
Now I’m 29 weeks along with our baby boy, who I write letters to sometimes about this strange world he’ll soon find himself in. What I find myself reflecting on most during my pregnancy in the time of COVID is how much perspective the whole experience has given me. We pay what could be a crippling amount for decent insurance, but there are countless things we’ve learned to do without. We’ve had to limit the amount of socializing we do with those we love to avoid the risk of me contracting the virus, but every interaction we do have, as well as the time we spend alone together, is precious. We had to cancel a planned small outdoor baby shower due to a COVID scare in our family, but we’ve had many people reach out to us asking what we need. The two of us have never felt more keenly the love and support we have from our circle.
All of this is to say— if you are a mamma or aspiring mamma filled with self-doubt over this decision, as I was— take heart. It might not be the kind of pregnancy you see in the world of lifestyle Youtubers or in the movies, but there is joy and acceptance to be found in a pandemic pregnancy. Give yourself grace, be safe, and know that once that little being you’ve been creating during all this darkness finally gets here, you’ll be continually reminded of what it means to hope.
What are you reading right now? The First Forty Days by Heng Ou.
What are you listening to right now? Cribsheet by Emily Oster.
What are you craving right now? Granola and milk. Fruit of all kinds. Anything sweet, though I’ve mostly cut out any refined sugars at this point because my sugar levels were elevated for a bit.
What’s your favorite way to stay physically active during pregnancy? Yoga (specifically Yoga with Adriene on YouTube). Love her.
Most stressful thing about pregnancy so far: The 3-hour glucose test.