As I drove down the highway, my eyes began to mimic the rare torrential rain of Arizona, as I felt overwhelmed, another rarity. It was my baby’s due date and all the world could speak of was COVID-19. It weighed heavily on my mind, along with baby’s 10 pounds 2 ounces on my bladder and feeling sad about the new no visitor policy during her arrival. But mostly, I felt an urgency to hurry and deliver at the hospital to retreat home and treasure her face in the safety of quarantine.
Veering from my original desire to wait for labor to start naturally, my husband and I were anticipating a call from the hospital to tell us they had a room for us to start the induction process. After the disappointment of being pushed back a few times, we were thrilled to receive a call two mornings later to head to the hospital.
As mandated by the CDC, we were screened outside of the ER, the one open entrance into the hospital, then escorted to the maternity ward. We felt fortunate that my husband could be there, as all other patients outside of laboring mothers and minors were left with empty bedsides. The thought that people were dying by themselves struck sadness.
We got settled into our room, ready to get our baby and get out of there. Our nurse was training, slowing the process. She asked if I was nervous about the labor-inducing Pitocin drug, as I inquired about it for the second time. “No, I am just anxious to have her today”, I replied with an unsettled smile, remembering the twenty-six hour labor with our first child. But as the contractions started, confidence followed.
By evening, my epidural had worn off and I was asking for more as my doctor checked my status. I was able to get one more dose before starting to push. She got stuck at her shoulders and I gave it all I had until I saw more stars than the skies. And then, I saw her face and the euphoria of motherhood overwhelmed my frame. “You’re here. I love you so much. Mama loves you so much.”
It was then that my husband and I knew we were the luckiest people in this Corona-infected earth.
Little Vivian whisked us away from an uncertain world, to the sweetest peace. As we looked into the pureness of her eyes, shielded from any knowledge of viruses, we rested into her calm and felt the heaven that babies bring.
That feeling stayed with us as we were wheeled into our recovery room. Skin to skin, she layed on my heart as my husband held my hand. Just the three of us. No longer was I sad about not having family or a birth photographer present. I stopped mourning the vision of our toddler coming to the hospital to meet her baby sister. In the quiet, we soaked up the goodness and it kept on flowing.
The next morning I turned on the TV during breakfast and quickly remembered there was a pandemic happening outside of our little square room. Nurses spoke of it as they passed through and I saw it everywhere as I scrolled through my phone. I maintained my concern for those suffering, but my being abounded with love and had no room for my previous anxiety about Covid-19 to return.
We had the option to stay another day, but eagerly checked out that night to give another couple space to have their baby and get home and see our toddler when she awoke the following morning.
Here we sit a few weeks later, and like much of the world, we haven’t left our home. We made an exception for the required newborn pediatrician appointment, where our doctor spoke of the dreariness of the virus with the same intensity as our family, friends and all we communicate with. Though we grasp the seriousness of the situation and my maternal instincts to keep my family safe are in full force, we have maintained the wholeness of peace our infant brought to us. Everyone who offers sympathies and condolences for having a baby right now have them politely returned to them, with assurances of our good fortune.
Our days are filled with our two year old bringing stuffed animals, tea cups brim with air and slobbery kisses to baby sister; along with our own cherished cuddles with Vivian. Nights hold feedings, with happy, tired eyes marveling at every new expression and sound. Heaven has not left us.
We wish we could give a piece of our peace to everyone out there suffering physically, financially and emotionally. We send the message to hold tight to family in any way you can, for time at home together is the bright spot through this whole thing. If you live alone, video call a baby or child in your life they’ll remind you, just like our fresh Vivian, that we’re all still okay in this.