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Preparing to give birth during quarantine: My journey as a mother and a therapist

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As I prepare to welcome my second child — a baby boy — I can’t stop thinking about one of my favorite photos from when I delivered my daughter two years ago. It’s not a photo of her swaddled next to an Etsy sign with her birth weight and height listed. It’s not a photo of my husband and I snuggling her close. It’s a photo of 11 of her family members standing around the hospital bed moments after she was born.

I was not one of those people who felt the birth of a child was an experience that should be shared only between my husband and I (not that there is anything wrong with that—it’s just not me). I’ve always had an “it takes a village” mentality, and I happily invited my whole village to the occasion. My husband, mom, sister, and mother-in-law were all present during the delivery itself, and the rest of the family flooded in as soon as my medical team green-lighted them to join us. I am very close with both my own family and my in-laws, and they’ve shared in just about every important moment since my daughter joined this world.

Of course that all came to an abrupt halt in March of this year when we, like the rest of the world, were ordered to stay home. I was about half way through my second pregnancy at that point. I’ve tried to remain as positive as possible during quarantine. I work as a relationship therapist, so it’s been a wonderful opportunity for me to put all the advice I give others to the test. I’m currently writing a book and have a whole chapter dedicated to the importance of adaptability for long-term relationship health. We’ve undoubtedly had to put those skills to use. I try to practice gratitude daily. While I think it’s important that we create space for all our emotions—I’ve certainly had a few good cries—I don’t think it’s healthy to let pain or discomfort overwhelm you for extended periods.

Now that I am two weeks shy of my due date, I’ve come to accept the reality that it will just be my husband and I in the delivery room. It will likely be a few months before the majority of my family is able to enjoy our son. In addition to the many unknowns that already come with childbirth, we now face additional fears about the risks of contracting COVID in the weeks prior to delivery—the scariest, in my opinion, being the restrictions of kisses and physical contact with my newborn.

Before quarantine, I attended a few prenatal yoga classes. My yoga teacher used to say, as you breathe in, draw on the strength of the mothers that came before you. Her voice echoes in my head today. There are fleeting moments when my inner strength, which is almost always present, seems just out of reach. I think about her words and try to imagine how other women have felt—those who have birthed babies in times of war, famine, and natural disasters. I think of these women and feel their compassion as I draw on their strength.

I’ve never been one to have my heart set on outcomes, and I have enough wisdom to know that life rarely turns out as planned. Sadness and fear are there, but I also have love and hope in my heart. My photo from this delivery will likely be a selfie of the three of us taken by my husband (I have a feeling we won’t be able to convince the nurses to touch our phone), and I’m okay with that. It will be intimate and no matter what happens, it will still be full of love. It’s that love that will carry us through the next few months, or however long this lasts, until our tribe can finally reunite.

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