My pregnancy in a pandemic

My pregnancy in a pandemic

In this post, I thought I would provide some context about my pregnancy specifically, and where I find myself today.

First off, I’m grateful to be pregnant in the first place, pandemic or not, and I’m lucky to have had a pretty smooth pregnancy in the months B.C. (Before Coronavirus). There has been no morning sickness, no insomnia keeping me up into the wee hours of the night and no weird cravings sending my husband to the store in search of out-of-season watermelon (an unexpected perk during a pandemic, given the bare shelves). Although I’m pregnant in a pandemic, I am also healthily pregnant in a pandemic, and for that I’m continually grateful.

Even as little as a few weeks ago, I didn’t think much about my pregnancy in the context of the pandemic, though I was trying my best to pay attention and follow the news. I had already been taking extra precautions at the onset of cold and flu season and to be more healthy, in general — exercising regularly, eating an all organic diet, brewing batches of fire cider, swapping out the store brand version of my prenatal vitamins for the more expensive, “made with whole foods” vitamins, drinking my red raspberry leaf tea daily and reading a library’s worth of pregnancy and parenting books (you could say that my Type A personality has joined me in this new chapter). 

That all changed on March 5, 2020. I was traveling back from a work trip in NYC, to home — Pitkin County, Colorado. A coworker texted me that someone in Summit County, home to an abundance of ski areas and not far from where we lived, had tested positive for the coronavirus.

For weeks, my husband joked that we were in the ideal place for an impending national health crisis. He had deduced that with the combination of our small and remote town (surrounded by millions of acres of wilderness), cold weather (psst . . . viruses thrive in the cold), and elevation (a complete last-ditch effort on his part), not only could the virus not live here, but it also wouldn’t be able to find its way here in the first place. “Pandemic paradise,” he said. 

Counter that rationale with the county seat — Aspen, which hosts thousands of international tourists a year, has a housing market chalk full of second homeowners coming and going and has a robust airport for a town of its size (up to 40 daily flights during peak season, in a town of about 6,500 people).

Only a few days after the case in Summit County, a group of 13 visiting Australians sparked the first outbreak in Aspen. Suddenly, Aspen had the highest number of cases for the virus in the state of Colorado. I heard at one point, in those early days, that Aspen had the highest number of confirmed, positive cases for the virus per capita, based on population (haven’t been able to find a source for this, but it also wouldn’t surprise me).

Colorado mountain towns were quickly hit by the virus, like a maze of falling dominos with too many entry points to count. Seemingly overnight, tourists were told to leave, and chair lifts were dismounted and the once crowded bars, home to many an après happy hour, emptied and shuttered their doors. A “stay at home” order went into effect for Pitkin County today — March 24, 2020. 

While much of that had to do with the hordes of visitors, outdoor towns across the West weighed in, reminding those seeking solace and social distancing in our beautiful landscapes that our healthcare systems are simply not fit to accommodate out-of-town patients. Aspen Valley Hospital, where I will deliver our baby in a few months, is small and its resources limited. 

What will I do, come this summer, if it’s overrun with patients sick with the virus?

At my OB appointment a few weeks ago, my doctor simply didn’t have many answers when I brought up the virus for the first time. She provided assurance, telling me that Pitkin County had moved pregnant women to the “high risk”/immunocompromised category (worth noting that this is not common at a state or national level) but, she immediately followed that with “we do know that there are no tests available at this time.” 

My next appointment is later this week, and I’m hopeful my doctor might have more answers for me then. I’m also prepared for some disappointing news — for example, I know she’ll tell me not to travel to Ohio in a few weeks to see our family, who were supposed to host a baby shower for us. I don’t know what she’ll tell me about my plans to have a doula in the labor and delivery room (many hospitals are now limiting the number of people allowed to accompany the mom in labor, understandably so, but also frustrating).

Part of me wishes my doctor were OB, part psychic. I want to be able to look into her crystal ball to know what the world will look like in 13+ weeks, all while she continues to fulfill her medical duties. 

So, I wait. I will know more soon, and in the meantime, I will do as much as I can to take care of myself and to provide shelter to the little one growing inside me. He or she (we don’t know the gender) does not know that there is a global pandemic on the outside nor that his or her arrival will likely coincide with an international economic collapse. 

He or she will be loved beyond measure, and that’s all that really matters at this point.

I’ll share more resources in my next post in the way of scientific information and research available, as well as a handful of media stories that have been written on this topic.

Be well, 

J

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