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

Hello, from more than 6' away!

Hello, from more than 6' away!

Hello, my name is Janelle (“J”), and I’m writing this from the comfort of my home, where my husband, dog, myself and our baby-in-utero have been isolating for the better part of a week. 

As I write this, I am 26 weeks pregnant, during a global pandemic. 

How did we get here? I slowly started paying more attention to the new coronavirus, starting in mid-January 2020. It felt as though more news related to the coronavirus began trickling into our lives week by week, then day by day — be it a report on NPR, conversations with colleagues or glares from my fellow passengers during a flight as I sneezed into my elbow.

That brings us to today, as we continue to adjust to the practice of “social distancing” (sidebar: entirely new-to-us terms entered our lexicon overnight) and to what everyone says is our “new normal.”

Processing this has been a rollercoaster. It feels surreal, and with updates and changes on a daily basis, I feel as though I’m floating in space, in some sort of weird time continuum. I turn to my husband every few days to ask him, “this is really happening, right?” to hours later feeling as though I’m buried by an avalanche of anxiety and emotion. At times I’m too overwhelmed to think about our next meal and then, on to the next worry, wondering if we should be stockpiling food, and if it’s too soon to be thinking about buying diapers and wipes months in advance. It comes in waves — cascading over me all at once, then petering out, slowly creeping back again and again. 

I guess that’s probably where a lot of us land — it’s a traumatic experience, period. We’ll all come out of this with different experiences, none “less than” the other. This is difficult for everyone, and most all of us will struggle in some way(s).

Full Disclosure: This is my first pandemic. Oh, and my first pregnancy. Newly married, in a new-to-us house, which often has several “projects” going simultaneously.

My pandemic experience has been complicated by my pregnancy, which I’ve found to be isolating in and of itself. I’ve hit peak anxiety at times, spent hours scouring the web’s endless abyss, searching, pleading, begging for anything related to pregnancy and the virus (there’s not much, but more on that later) that will help calm my nerves, but only mounting them instead. 

My friend Brian asked me to describe how I’ve felt about my experience thus far, and to be honest, I can’t find the words. Or maybe I find too many of them, uncovering more day by day: “confused,” “terrified,” “unsettled,” “panicked,” “disappointed,” “unsure.” 

So, pen to paper — err — blog, rather.

As we prepare for the coming days, weeks and most likely months ahead — there seems to be no consensus on how long this will “last” — I thought I would make the most of this time by documenting my experience.

Here’s what I’ll be sharing:  

  • Resources I’m using to navigate these uncertain times.
  • A safe, virtual place to connect with other expectant moms (Obviously, I know I’m not the only mom-to-be with the same thoughts and concerns, and through connection and common interests, we can find solutions to the problems both large and small that our new landscape presents).
  • General pregnancy updates – unrelated to the coronavirus. I’m excited to walk through this with the virtual community, much in the way I would have participated in a physical activity until a few weeks ago.

A note on what this will not be: — it will not be a place to loathe or complain, nor a place for pity. While this pregnancy might be taking place during a global pandemic, it is not a burden. I feel incredibly lucky to be on my journey to motherhood, whatever that ends up looking like, and to have the basics. Our situation could be worse, and when I write that, I’m thinking of moms who live in poverty, war or refuge.

Now, about me:

  • I’m a 30-something mom-to-be, due with our first child this summer.
  • My husband and I live with our dog in a tiny mountain town, in Colorado’s Crystal Valley.
  • In the way of pregnancy, I’m just kind of navigating it as I go. Lots of reading and research, and feeling incredibly grateful to be healthy thus far.

More soon. 

Be well,

J