Fatigue. It is what most of us are probably feeling right now, in one way or another, but definitely COVID fatigue. When I found out I was pregnant around this time last year, I fantasized about the many things I would do with my baby, the introductions I would make to our family and friends, the places we would visit, the light of discovery on my baby’s face with each new discovery, most of all, the constant doting that would take place to all the people. Very early into 2020, I realized some things were going to be different, but could not have imagined just how different at the time. I postponed my baby shower, hopeful for a “sip and see” shortly after the baby’s arrival, and I bought and wore adorable maternity clothes to show off my growing baby bump to the mirror in my hallway. As my due date approached and a scary virus becoming a full-on pandemic, I began to hope with all hope that my husband would be allowed in the room with me when I gave birth to our first child in June. This was not a farfetched fear as partners all over the country were being denied access to one another during child birth. My husband was no longer allowed to attend routine prenatal appointments with me. He was only allowed to join our 20-week ultrasound via FaceTime. Fortunately, by June, my spouse could join me in labor and delivery, but only because everyone naively believed the coronavirus to be waning. With the arrival of our daughter and interaction with other humans becoming more and more restricted, I knew that our newborn daughter would not meet any friends or family for quite some time. Without an immune system and COVID-19 becoming ever-prevalent, I set a minimum date at which even a family member could meet her—2 months old—as that would be her first set of vaccinations. It may have been futile, but it was my attempt at trying to control something, anything, in this increasingly chaotic pandemic world.
At 10 weeks old, my daughter met her first two family members, my husband’s mother, and his brother. They are local. There were masks and a lot of handwashing before comfort levels were reached to take hold of our bundle of joy, but she was officially introduced to family … some of it at least. I am forever grateful that we trusted ourselves and our family members to meet her responsibly because my brother-in-law left this earthly plane a short time after meeting his one and only niece or nephew. It is a moment in time that will be infinitely cherished.
Our daughter, now 6 months old, has been on a number walks that I can count on one hand and perhaps met that same amount of people. Not a single member of my family has met our daughter. This breaks my heart. I am from Indiana, so its already a decent day of travel to make this happen without a pandemic consuming the world. With a pandemic, it seems an impossible feat. At least one that is nearly impossible for me to permit. Air travel on anyone’s behalf is out of the question. Embarking on a road trip that took 13-hours pre-baby is also difficult and anxiety inducing to think about. With a newborn, it was a hard NO. We planned to make the road trip at Thanksgiving, when she was a bit older. Finally, my mom, dad, brother, and sister, the people that are my air (other than my husband and daughter) would meet our daughter, hold her, cuddle her, love her. Fate has other plans. COVID-19 has been surging and wreaking havoc on the country for quite some time, but only more recently has it decimated middle America. Sadly, 12 days before Thanksgiving, my brother tested positive for coronavirus. My mother and sister (and of course, his wife and kids) had been in contact, but all have tested negative while he continuously tested positive. Thankfully, he only had one day of troubling symptoms and a couple of days of mild symptoms and carried on feeling quite normal; however, his positivity happening too close to our visit for comfort, and COVID-19 numbers breaking records not only in Louisiana but throughout the country, we cancelled our Thanksgiving trip.
My family has still not met my daughter. She is 6 months old. We communicate via FaceTime, though not nearly enough, and it cannot quite be classified as a relationship building mechanism. Myself, my husband, and my daughter remain healthy and I am very, very grateful for this fortune. That said, my family has still not met my daughter and I am heartbroken.