Isla’s birth story

Isla’s birth story

Name: Isla Elizabeth Sohner

Born: 6:37 p.m., June 25, 2020

Size: 6 lbs., 8 oz. and 19.5 in.

Isla on my chest, a few hours after birth.

The days before

During the final weeks of my pregnancy, my OBs and midwife casually remarked that the baby was still very “high” and had not started to “drop.” Between that and the fact that I hadn’t shown any other signs of labor, they expected me to go well past my due date — all the way up until 41 weeks and 5 days, before considering induction. At my appointment on June 22, my midwife made an appointment for the following Monday and confidently said, “I’ll see you here next week.”

With that in mind, I tried to relax as much as possible and embraced that the baby would come when he or she wanted to. Dan surprised me with takeout from one of our favorite restaurants, which we enjoyed while watching the sunset from Independence Pass. I also had really pleasant acupuncture and chiropractor appointments, which helped me feel more prepared for labor, both physically and mentally, and put me at ease.

A few days later, on June 24, as I drove to yet another appointment, I saw a bear cub in the wild for the first time. He and I locked eyes before he scurried off, and as Dan and I had been referring to the baby as “baby bear,” I felt like it was a sign that our “bear” would be here soon.

That night, seemingly out of the blue, I told Dan,  “I just have this feeling the baby will be here soon — like maybe tomorrow or the next day.”

Labor day

Sure enough, around 4 a.m. on June 25, I woke up with some intense pelvic pain. I did yet another Google search to remind myself that the act of baby “dropping” could be cause alone and assumed that might be the source. It also occurred to me that I could be experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, which had been increasing in intensity over the last few weeks.

For the next few hours, I carried on as though it were a normal day — working from home and joining work meetings. Around noon, though, I felt as though the contractions were starting to pick up a bit of rhythm, and I thought it would be best to sign off for the day. I asked Dan to go for a walk, and as we did, he started timing the contractions like a track coach (start! stop! start!). We didn’t walk far before we both concluded that this was “real,” and we called our doula, Hillery, shortly after.

Hillery planned to meet us at our house at 3:30 p.m. It had always been our “plan” to labor at home as long as possible before heading to the hospital; I mostly wanted to take advantage of comforts — the freedom to move around, to eat and to stretch. I read birth affirmations I had written on index cards and practiced a few hypnobirthing techniques, including visualizing the colors of the rainbow.

Her heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord; she will have no fear.

One of my birth affirmations.

When Hillery arrived, I had started active labor, and she helped me cope with any pain I was experiencing. Between Hillery and Dan, I felt so loved and supported, which put me more at ease.

Shortly thereafter, while I meandered between the shower and bed, I heard Dan packing the car and calling my OB and midwife to let them know we would be leaving for the hospital soon. Unexpectedly, though, when Hillery told me it was time to leave, I froze and said, “I don’t think I can go to the hospital. I can’t get in the car.”

I’m not sure what hit me at that moment. I knew I was wrong for saying those words soon as I heard them leave my mouth, but it’s truly how I felt. Maybe it was the fear of going to the hospital and being in a clinical environment; maybe it was the nearly hour long drive through winding canyons. I don’t know if I’ll ever know, but I am grateful for Hillery, who helped/forced me to walk to the car between contractions. 

On our way to the hospital, Dan called my midwife again, who said she would meet us there. While he was talking to her, though, she heard me working through an intense contraction and, based on my reaction, suggested that she follow us to the hospital in her car because … wait for it… she thought there was a good chance she might have to deliver the baby on the side of the highway if we didn’t make it to the hospital in time. To this day, I’m thankful that conversation stayed between her and Dan, and that Dan didn’t share that with me until after delivery.

About halfway through our drive, I suddenly recognized the urge to push. We still had about 20 more minutes before reaching the hospital, but I could feel baby descending. I grabbed Dan’s hand and said, “The baby is here!” Fortunately, Hillery stayed on speaker phone with us and coached me through breathing exercises to intentionally stall labor.

She’s here!

Though we did not have a “highway baby,” my midwife did call the hospital to ask that we be allowed to park at the emergency entrance and for attendants to have a wheelchair ready. Sure enough, they met us at our car and whisked me off — running — to the labor and delivery room. 

As soon as we arrived in the room, a team of nurses worked quickly to administer antibiotics. In the meantime, my midwife confirmed what I had suspected — that I was fully dilated and as soon as I had the antibiotics in my system, it would be time to push.

At the time, I didn’t realize that we were mere minutes away from meeting our baby. Based on ultrasound measurements and what I had been hearing during weekly prenatal appointments, I had assumed I would be pushing for hours. So, I didn’t hesitate to ask whether it was too late to receive some pain relief. Administering an epidural was out of the question and because of COVID-19, the hospital was not offering nitrous oxide as an option. My midwife simply told me, “You can have a break after you deliver this baby.”

The ensuing minutes were a blur, but they went by quickly. Within just over 10 minutes and four “pushes,” Dan placed our baby on my chest. He confirmed that our little girl was, in fact, a girl, and through happy tears told me, “It’s Isla! Isla is here.”

The next few moments truly felt magical. Riding a wave of adrenaline, we admired our daughter and gave thanks for a fast and safe labor (and grateful it took place at the hospital). 

Over the course of the next hours, we eagerly called our parents and siblings and sent texts to close friends and family. We laughed at all of the thought and preparation that went into packing our hospital bags (pillows from home, essential oils and homeopathic remedies, snacks, etc.) — which didn’t even make it into the room with us. We didn’t take a picture of our leaving the house as planned, nor did we take a single picture of laboring at the hospital.

That all seemed so small, though, as we held our new world in our arms.

Overall thoughts and final reflections

While our plan all along was to labor at home as much as possible, if I were to do it all over again, I probably would have gone to the hospital sooner. I’m glad everything went smoothly as soon as we did arrive; it just felt chaotic and rushed. 

When Hillery had asked Dan and I what kind of environment we wanted to welcome our daughter into, I had envisioned a calm, peaceful and quiet room. Maybe we would play some favorite songs off a playlist Dan had put together, and have lavender essential oils wafting in the room, which would be softly lit by fairy lights. 

None of that happened, but of course, in the grand scheme of thing, none of it really matters either. I am grateful that Dan did managed to grab copies of our birth plan to share with my midwife and the team of nurses, who honored our values for the remainder of labor and delivery that was left.

I’ve also thought a lot about the supportive and loving women who were with us that day — from Hillery coming to our house, to meeting our midwife en route to the hospital, as well as my OB and the team of labor and delivery nurses. They were all so loving and caring, and I’m thankful those were the first people (all women!) whom Isla met.

My recovery has been going well, and I think a large part of that is because of the lack of interventions I experienced. I’m grateful that I had an unmedicated birth, but upon further reflection, I do think it was silly for me to feel guilty when I apologized to Dan, in the car, for telling him that I “needed” an epidural or something to manage the pain. I should not have apologized — he reminded me that I was capable of making that decision — after all, we don’t have to have remorse for doing what we think is best/necessary in the moment. Labor is hard, and we shouldn’t judge women for making such personal choices for their babies and bodies. The goal is a safe delivery for mom and for baby — period.

Lastly, I am most thankful and proud of Dan. In the final weeks of pregnancy, he waited on me hand and foot and put a lot of work and studying into our pregnancy course. There’s no doubt that it wouldn’t have been such a relatively smooth experience without him, and he was so incredibly in tune with everything that was going on.

We named our daughter Isla, from the Scottish Island of Islay, where her dad spent some meaningful time several summers ago. About a week after she was born, through genealogy research done by our neighbor, we also discovered that some of my dad’s maternal ancestors from the 12th and 13th centuries resided on the same island and two served as Lords of the Isles. Her middle name is my mother’s given name, and also one that is common in several family members of both of our families.

After being told to expect a baby boy for all nine months of my pregnancy, we couldn’t help but be surprised and so smitten with our little Isla.

My world.
July 11: Resources, Part 2, and Extending Grace

July 11: Resources, Part 2, and Extending Grace

Well, here we are. I’ll start by saying that I’m disappointed in the direction the coronavirus pandemic is headed in the U.S. As a staunch “rule follower,” I can’t help but wonder if we would be in a better place today if we could have tolerated lockdown for even a handful of more weeks. 

While there is still some uncertainty related to coronavirus and pregnancy, I wanted to share a few resources that have been published in the last few weeks. Now that our daughter is here, my husband and I are having real-time conversations with our parents, family and friends about if and how they’re safely able to meet her. Those articles (below) have helped us address some of our concerns, and I’m also happy to see that more research is being done on how the two conditions relate.

Before I dive into that, though, I thought it was worth sharing this article published a few months ago by For the Church, and the importance of extending grace — Navigating Different COVID-19 Recovery Convictions. In the past weeks, I’ve seen disagreements among friends and family alike about what is “safe”; who feels “comfortable”; who we “trust.” The only thing that has become clear is that there is no clear, one-size-fits-all answer. While this is not research or evidence-based, it’s human.

From For the Church’s editor, Charles Smith, who back in April wrote, “Prediction: one of the most challenging aspects of the #COVID19 recovery will be disagreements over acceptable post-COVID social norms between friends & family. Hurt feelings will abound if we’re not careful. Extend lots of grace. Everyone is different.”

Three months ago, I can’t imagine Smith knew how spot-on his prophecy would be. That said, principles from article still hold true when it comes to empathy and understanding approaches other than our own:

1. Optimistic people are a blessing to my life. It keeps me hopeful about the future and enables me to embrace uncertainty as opportunity. 

2. Cautious people are a blessing to my life. It keeps me sensitive to the needs and concerns of others and enables me to make prudent decisions. 

3. Different gifts and approaches make us all more effective. Pride demands that everyone do things the way we demand. Read 1 Corinthians 12 and celebrate different gifts. 

4. People matter more than my opinion. Being in healthy relationships with people is a privilege that requires me to love others above myself. When I am highly opinionated, I can needlessly hurt others.  

Choose Love

In the end, these attitudes prepare our hearts and minds to do one thing above all else: choose love. Preserving valuable relationships and developing healthy teams, churches, and families is more important than winning arguments, or being (more) right. 

Coronavirus and Pregnancy-Related Resources

Centers for Disease Control, If You Are Pregnant, Breastfeeding, or Caring for Young Children — the CDC updated its guidelines to include pregnant and nursing mothers in the “high risk” category for COVID-19. I was personally surprised this took so long; published the day our daughter was born, our county had categorized pregnant women as higher risk back in March. Better late than never, I suppose.

Mayo Clinic, COVID-19 in Babies and Children — the Mayo Clinic published its first report on the virus and newborns earlier this month. It is now statistically confirmed that not only can newborns contract the virus, but that they are also at higher risk of severe illness, if contracted.

The New York Times, When Can Grandparents Meet the Newborn? — by far one of the most comprehensive (and cautious) guides. We’ve been following this as closely as possible, including our two week quarantine immediately following our hospital dismissal. That said, some of the recommendations here, such as a two week quarantine for visiting grandparents upon arrival are just not logistically possible for our family. We’ll try to integrate best practices where possible, though, such as spending time outside, not dining indoors, etc.

Be well,

J

She’s here!

She’s here!

Just as I was about to publish another post with more COVID and pregnancy related resources, our daughter surprised us with her arrival on June 25. We are well — healthy and happy.

These first few days have been nothing short of magical.

I’ll publish those resources, as well as a post about Isla’s birth story, soon. But today, we sleep and snuggle. Life is good.

Turn, baby, turn!

Turn, baby, turn!

A few weeks ago, at a routine prenatal appointment, an ultrasound technician uttered those dreaded words: “your baby is breech.” 

What?! Just a few weeks prior, the same technician had confirmed that baby was “head down and ready to go.”

I knew that a breech position wasn’t ideal, but I didn’t know that it would significantly impact my pregnancy and more so, labor and delivery. In fact, I had kind of skimmed the chapter on breech positioning in one of my favorite pregnancy books, Mama Natural. After the ultrasound, my midwife recommended I check out SpinningBabies.com, which has a bunch of exercises and stretches to encourage a baby to “flip.” Both she and the ultrasound technician also assured me that I had “plenty of time” for baby to move to a more optimal, head down position. 

A week later, baby was still breech, and I discussed with my OB what options I might have for delivery. The short answer: no options. A breech baby means a scheduled cesarean section. No chance of spontaneous labor leading up to the c-section, either — in the event something was wrong with the umbilical cord, they would erase those risks altogether.

What ensued for the next several days is what I can only describe as an onset of a growing mother’s instinct and my desperate plea/determination to “encourage” baby to turn.

By my 37 week appointment, baby had turned! I let out an elated “woo!” 

Despite friends and family who assured me that “I would just know” or that I would “definitely” feel baby “flipping,” the truth is I have no idea when he or she turned, nor which (if any) of the methods I tried worked. Maybe baby decided to turn on its own; maybe it was a combination of a little of each of the following methods. That’s perhaps besides the point, though, and I thought I’d share about my experience with the various methods I did try: 

  • Acupuncture: this came recommended via our doula and perhaps one of the strangest techniques I tried. I’d been wanting to try acupuncture for some time, and while facilities were closed for coronavirus restrictions, offices reopened just as I had the perfect excuse (breech) to make my first appointment. 

There’s a specific acupuncture point in the side of both pinky toes, which an acupuncturist will needle, then burn moxibustion incense around both needles. The mix of smoke, heat and acupuncture points stimulate the uterus, and sure enough, baby is moving in minutes! I later read that this is best for a baby that is 30-34 weeks (I was 35-36 weeks when I tried this), but nevertheless, I still felt tons of movement and found the overall process super relaxing. 

I liked this so much, in fact, that I convinced Dan to let us burn moxibustion at home, between acupuncture appointments, and am continuing on with regular prenatal acupuncture appointments up until labor.

  • Chiropractor: like acupuncture, in B.C. (Before Coronavirus) times, I was hoping to start regular chiropractic appointments at the beginning of my third trimester. And, well, that didn’t happen because of restrictions. Fortunately, though, they reopened right in time. 

While I received many recommendations from friends for local chiropractors, our doula strongly encouraged me to find someone who specializes in Webster technique. Webster technique and certification essentially means that the practitioner specializes in prenatal, pregnancy, postnatal and child care, including adjustments that prepare both mom and baby for labor — and, you guessed it — baby’s positioning. Luckily enough, I found Trailhead Chiropractors in nearby Glenwood Springs. I made regular appointments and have been enjoying better posture and overall improved spinal health in the final weeks of pregnancy.

  • Hypnosis: a toss up between this and acupuncture as my favorite “method.” Hypnobabies sells an downloadable MP3 hypnosis/meditation where in the mom-to-be relaxes and talks to her baby about turning, if it is the right thing to do for the baby. I listened to this 40-minute track for about two times a day over the course of a few days, including when Dan burned the moxibustion near the acupuncture point on my toes. I’d also listen to it at night, and it often put me to sleep. It helped me relax and connect with baby. 
  • Spinning Babies Stretches: ask any friend or midwife if she has recommendations on “turning” a breech baby, and she will, without a doubt, mention this resourceful website. It’s centered around optimal positioning for mom and baby throughout pregnancy, but it also has some very specific techniques for a breech baby.

The two exercises I practiced most were Forward Leaning Inversion and Breech Tilt. Inversion is somewhat similar to Downward Dog in yoga; I did this exercise anywhere from 7-14 times a day, holding the pose for about 30-45 seconds, for six days. Breech Tilt was more intense and difficult for me, personally — it’s essentially a supported Bridge pose from yoga, held for 10-15 minutes. I did this three times a day, also for six days, immediately after an Inversion stretch. 

I tried to do both exercises when baby was awake or moving around more than normal. A baby in motion stays in motion!

  • Essential Oils: this was a random Internet find. Apparently, the combination of a few drops of Peppermint and Frankincense has a “cooling” effect (similar to the frozen peas below), and when placed on top of the belly (near baby’s head), baby shies away and yes — in some cases, will be moved to head down. I noticed baby moving around A LOT 4-5 minutes after I did this, and I sometimes combined this with Breech Tilt.
  • Frozen Peas: not rocket science, but the theory is that placing an ice pack (or in my case, a bag of frozen veggies) near the baby’s head, will encourage him or her to “move” away from the cold and move toward warmth. While tons of people swear by this, I can’t say I felt much movement when I did it, but I did try to combine it with the Breech Tilt a handful of times.
  • Pulsatilla: I came across this floral herb in Mama Natural, when I was reading about techniques to move along labor in case it stalls out. A dosage of this is supposed to relax and “get things moving along.”

In doing a bit more reading about Pulsatilla for pregnancy and labor, I also found research and studies that suggested taking one dose of Pulsatilla, waiting for the herb to dissolve and immediately following it with the Breech Tilt exercise. This isn’t supposed to be done for more than two consecutive days, which is exactly what I did. I can’t say for sure how successful this was, but I know I will be packing this in my hospital bag — baby was moving immediately. 

I have a hunch this is what might have worked, more than anything else.

  • ECV: okay, so I actually didn’t experience this procedure but think it’s worth mentioning. An External Cephalic Version is a medical method wherein a doctor or midwife manually moves the baby by applying pressure to mom’s belly. 

My OB scheduled an ECV at our hospital, in the event she would have to perform this, and while I was open to her recommendation, I’ll admit that I had no idea everything it entailed. In the coming days before the scheduled appointment, I received a few calls from the hospital — billing information for the procedure, screening questions regarding my health and a final, longer conversation regarding the nearly full-day visit we would have at the hospiitial, as well as the anesthesia they would administer. That final call, along with more details about an epidural, which helps relax mom, kind of freaked me out. Oh, and the success rate for ECVs hovers around 60 percent, so it’s far from guaranteeing a “flip.”

In the end, though, my OB happily canceled this appointment when we found out that baby flipped less than 24 hours before, at another ultrasound appointment. Her parting words were that while I would have been an “ideal candidate” for the procedure, it also “sucks.” 

Resources

Acupuncture: Moxibustion Acupuncture – American Institute of Alternative Medicine

Chiropractor: Professional Help – Spinning Babies 

Hypnosis: “Turn Baby Turn” MP3 track – Hypnobabies

Essential Oils: Essential Oils to Turn a Breech Baby – Birth Blog 

Pulsatilla: Using Homeopathy to Turn Babies – Midwifery Today

ECV: External Cephalic Version for Breech Position – University of Michigan Medicine; The Evidence On: Breech Version – Evidence Based Birth

A heavy heart and bringing a baby into the world

A heavy heart and bringing a baby into the world

Late last week, I was planning to post about the most recent update to my pregnancy (baby is breech), but that feels a bit tone deaf with what’s going on right now. So while my personal “news” has been another unexpected twist and turn (literally and figuratively) in my pregnancy, compared to the strife faced by so many in the last week, it feels like such a small “problem.” 

I’ll begin by saying that my heart is heavy for our country and our world. On one hand, it makes me wonder if we’re crazy for bringing yet another person into the world; on the other, I’m optimistic that we’ll raise a child who will be a beacon of light and one who will contribute to making the world a better place.

Though it doesn’t feel appropriate to bring comedy into this conversation, my current situation reminds me of a take away from comedian and writer Mike Birbiglia’s show, “The New One.” I was lucky enough to have scored tickets to the show’s opening night with a friend, on a whim, on Off Broadway about two years ago. A longtime fan, I was looking forward to his thoughts on parenthood and what he described as “reluctant fatherhood.” (An aside — “The New One” is available on Netflix, and Mike’s book, with contributions from his wife and poet J. Hope Stein, was recently released as well).

Though the show’s material was obviously written and performed prior to today’s context of having and raising a child in a global pandemic and mass protests, one of the main themes really resonates with me today.

Mike talked about different fears and worries about his journey to parenthood and bringing a child into a world of uncertainty. For him and that time, there were other issues — over pollution, what it means to be a “decent man” in the age of Me Too and climate change.

But his point was this — what we look at, see and hope for in our children and in their futures is the faith that they are a symbol of change and will do good in the world they come into. They are the next generation, and while the world is changing rapidly around them, they are full of possibility and potential. 

May we all be so lucky to see the world through their eyes.

Be well,

J

A Mother’s Day Ode

A Mother’s Day Ode

To be honest, when I first realized that I would be pregnant over Mother’s Day, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. As much as I knew that I someday wanted to have a family of my own, I didn’t ever look at myself through the lens of actually being a mom. 

Over the past week, my excitement and anticipation has grown right along with my ever protruding belly. I wanted to recognize that while Mother’s Day is a happy and joyous day for many, it can also be a difficult day for a lot of women; it looks different for everyone, and that’s okay.

So, I wrote an ode to reflect on the many ways in which it might look like to be a woman this Mother’s Day.

Here’s to the women . . .

To women bringing a baby into this world, in a pandemic 

To the women balancing motherhood and careers while staying at home

To the women mothering without a support system they’re accustomed to 

To the women fulfilling their professional duties as health care workers on the front lines of this battle

To the women navigating a new financial reality, unemployment 

To the women postponing their dreams of growing their family

To to women mourning the loss of their mothers

To the women grieving the passing of their children

To the women yearning to be mothers some day

To the women choosing not to be mothers

To the women coping with strained mother-daughter relationships 

To all women on this Mother’s Day, I see you. I send you love, light and strength. I am thinking of you. May you have peace on this Mother’s Day, whatever that means for you.

This sucks. I am blessed.

This sucks. I am blessed.

After publishing my most recent post, wherein I grieved for “the pregnancy I wish I had,” I thought I would use the beginning of a new month to acknowledge not what I lost in April, but rather what I had to be grateful for. 

And so, while the coronavirus and the past seven or so weeks of its resulting variations of “stay at home” orders, days spent mired in depressing national news and frustrations from what many are losing during this experience undoubtedly “sucks,” I took inspiration and the title of this post from Mark Reaman, editor of the Crested Butte News, in his recent editorial, to also acknowledge that I am blessed, many times over. There will be more difficult days ahead, but here is a short list of what I am thankful for in the past month or so:

A literal sign of peace on our street.
  • First and foremost, my health and that of my husband’s and baby-in-utero, as well as most of my extended family. This matters more than ever, and I pray that we will continue to stay as healthy as possible and as time allows, surround ourselves with others who will do the same.
  • As my friend Brian has reminded me since the early aughts of quarantine, I say a daily thanks for “the basics” — food, clothing and shelter. 
  • The natural beauty that surrounds me. How happy I am to live where we do — a historic town inside a National Forest, where trails connect to our backyard and the melting snow runs to the river that weaves through our valley.
  • Spring and the return of birds chirping in the morning, voiding the need for an alarm clock.
  • A husband who cooks! Dan has continued to work up healthy, tasty and nutritious meals during quarantine. 
  • Speaking of meals, we’re incredibly lucky to have ample food at our house and to order takeout from local restaurants about once a week.
  • Daily dog walks with our neighbors, which have become a staple of our “quarantine routine.” 
  • My physical community — we’re looking over one another and are doing our part to run errands and deliver groceries for our elderly and at-risk neighbors. There seems to be a greater sense of “in this together,” and little rays of sunshine, with hand-crafted signs up and down our street. 
  • My virtual community — whether it be friends or family, I have a greater sense of connection with this group. Some have sent letters, others have arranged FaceTime “happy hours,” and a lot of group texts. My favorite might be the “Sohna Corona” group text with Dan’s family — someone sends a daily prompt or question, and we are usually laughing at the various responses.
  • I would be remiss not to mention the virtual community I’ve felt surrounded and supported by since starting this blog about six weeks ago. I’ve heard from fellow moms-to-be, family and friends who are mothers themselves, and family and friends in general who have been so supportive. Sharing this experience has been therapeutic and provided a safe space to express myself. 
  • My work community — I’m not only grateful to be employed during this time but am also thankful for an employer that is trying to navigate our new situation with as much flexibility and understanding as possible, putting a priority on our team’s health. 
  • Friends and family who are thinking of our upcoming birth and baby. How sweet it has been to receive texts, cards and gifts, despite the cancellation of our baby showers. Highlight of this was, without a doubt, a surprise package of Jeni’s Ice Creams from a dear friend. 

As in the editorial I linked to above, I also want to think about spending the coming weeks and months ahead as part of a “growth” phase. Here is where I will vow to focus my energy, as my headspace allows:

  • Finding a purpose
  • Using my skills to serve others
  • Showing more empathy
  • Emitting hope and gratitude
  • Finding ways to adapt to change
  • Seeking calm and patience
  • Living in the present

What are you thankful for? Where are you trying to focus your energy while staying at home?

To the pregnancy I wish I had

To the pregnancy I wish I had

To the pregnancy I wish I had,

So long, prenatal yoga classes. I will miss the Sunday restore class instructor who sized up my bump, week by week, the most.

I bid adieu to the cute maternity clothes I would have worn to the office, to dinner with friends, to the baby showers. Now, I seldom wear anything but leggings, as I dress for work-from-home Zoom calls and the occasional trip to the grocery store.

Farewell to the third trimester chiropractor and acupuncture appointments. I would have had proper posture and no stress, emulating those “glowing moms” I follow on Instagram and going into my final weeks feeling like a queen. 

Good-bye to the physical touch I longed for during the “mommy spa day” my husband had booked. Instead, I dream of the massage and facial and of hands rubbing my aching feet. I would have told our future son or daughter how their dad pampered me. 

After our disastrous attempt at a “babymoon” in Tulum several weeks ago — a towed rental car, heat stroke for him and food poisoning for me — I told myself we would make up for it. Maybe we’d take a weekend trip to Taos or Jackson Hole in the spring. No more.

I cried the day I realized we would not be traveling to Ohio to see our family and friends, who were throwing us a baby shower. Weeks ago, I had convinced myself that if we could not fly there, perhaps we would drive. Again, not happening.

My heart aches to not see our moms. For them not to see my growing belly or to feel the baby “kick.”

There was a short window of time when I clung to the baby shower with our “Colorado family” in Denver. It was going to be fun and light-hearted — there would even be booze for everyone except me (my request)! Okay, okay. You get the point.

I feel guilty to mourn the pregnancy I had imagined. I feel vain for having pined for such experiences in the first place — to stay fit in yoga class, to relax during massage, to squeeze in one more pre-baby trip to a favorite mountain town. Because I know those experiences weren’t necessarily for the baby or in the name of being pregnant, but because they were for me, too. For the woman I still am, before the baby comes.

Those desires I yearned for might have been superfluous, but I lust for them, nonetheless. 

What is it like to be pregnant in a pandemic? It’s as though I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, looking into dense fog, searching for the pregnancy I wanted — the one I had hoped for and imagined since that crisp October day I knew I was pregnant, a lifetime ago. Now, I can’t help but wonder if I will want a second child if not for the pregnancy alone, to make up for the experiences I’ve lost in this one. I know that should not be the deciding factor for bringing another life into the world, and I admit that it is selfish of me.

In those moments, when I feel bad and in the dumps, I remind myself of other moms around the world. Those who live in war zones. Those who live in the pits of poverty. Those who are in refuge, looking for their next home. Because I know. I know this could be far worse. 

But this is how I feel today, as I grieve for the pregnancy I wish I had.

J

Refinery 29 article: Pregnant In The Coronavirus Pandemic

Refinery 29 article: Pregnant In The Coronavirus Pandemic

I’ll keep this post short and sweet. I was honored to be included in this Refinery29 story, What It’s Like To Be Pregnant In The Coronavirus Pandemic. The author, Molly Longman, interviewed me and seven other women about our various experiences of coming to terms with our current situation.

There are wild and inspiring stories in here; I’m honored to have been included. I had tears reading one woman’s story of delivering her son while her husband watched via Zoom conference.

That said, and I’m hoping to write more about this later, I’m increasingly feeling this strong bond with other women who are pregnant and delivering during this pandemic. It’s not how any of us likely imagined our pregnancy, but it feels like we’re becoming a part of a special sisterhood. I’m clinging to that thought and the light it brings me.

Be well,

J

April 1: Resources

April 1: Resources

I started a draft of this post a few weeks ago, and at the time, I was disappointed by the lack of resources and stories I was able to find about navigating a pregnancy in the time of the coronavirus.

That’s changed drastically in the last week and seems to be changing daily, in large part because of the number of media stories that have been published and produced. As a journalism school graduate, I’m so proud and thankful for media sharing these stories at such a critical time. These stories, for me, are beams of light during an otherwise dark time (and should serve as a reminder to us all to support a news organization(s) with a subscription!).

It’s been particularly great to read stories written by women who are pregnant themselves. Their perspectives bring a human connection in a time of isolation.

So, down to it. I hope to continue publishing additional posts as more resources and stories become available and thought it made sense for this post to serve as a catch-all for what I’ve been reading thus far. I’ve broken this out into three sections: Science/Data-Based Resources; News Stories (more fact and research-based with recent developments); and First-Person Narratives (stories written by pregnant women that I’ve simply found compelling).

Science/Data-Based Resources

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — I haven’t found this particularly helpful, but what’s here is cut and dry. There does seem to be a lag in updates.
  • Emily Oster’s Parent Data — Oster is an economist and author (Expecting Better and Cribsheet); she’s providing some updates on pregnancy and the coronavirus in her email newsletters, cited with data. She’s also publishing some stories (see below).
  • Evidence Based Birth — this site, which was already a favorite of mine before the pandemic, has an entire page set a side for updates related to COVID-19. This includes recent studies and research updates, which is nice to have all in one place.

News Stories

First Person Narratives

  • The Boston Globe, I’m Pregnant During the Coronavirus Pandemic, and I’m Terrified by Anica Butler
  • The Cut, Pregnant in a Pandemic by Irin Carmon — “I can’t know what is to come, or control it, and nothing tells me it’s bigger than my own choices than what we’re living through now. To try to be prepared without being able to make plans. To have the fate of all of our bodies tied up together, our literal lives depending on each other’s health and sickness. As for the being that is most depending on me, we’re both sheltering inside for now, and all I can really do is try to make the vehicle of her isolation a little more hospitable.”
  • Health.com, I’m Pregnant in a Coronavirus Containment Zone And Here’s What My Life is Like by Liz Teich
  • The New York Times, Opinion: I Did Not Plan to Be Pregnant in a Pandemic by Alexandra March — Now I realize that not only can I not prepare for her birth in a pandemic, but it’s also likely that a lot of her life will be beyond my protection. My spreadsheets will be useless. I’m forced to accept that I can’t plan for everything; I don’t have any choice but to be agile — no one knows what the world will look like in three months.

That’s all for now. Will share more as I read and follow along.

Be well,

J