Pregnancy During A Global Pandemic
The world has surely changed over the last several months. COVID-19 moved across the world like a silent thief in the night, upheaving everyone by its presence. There was a shortage on everything from bath tissue and hand sanitizer to toothpaste and paper towels. Cases were rising across the globe causing everyone to close their borders and businesses with no end in sight. We were told to shut ourselves indoors, wear masks while going out and keep our distance from each other. Through all of this, a significant amount of women have become pregnant or have given birth within these last seven months.
Being pregnant during this pandemic can be very challenging. Spouses and significant others are not permitted to accompany the mothers to their doctors’ appointments. Hospitals are only allowing one visitor, or even no visitors at all. Siblings are forced to wait for the new addition to arrive home to spend time with him/her.
I am one of those mothers. My husband and I found out that we were pregnant back in November of 2019, much to our surprise. During this joyful time, we were not expecting the whole world would shift the way it did because of a virus that showed no mercy to all those who contracted it and are trying to defeat it.
Thirteen weeks into my pregnancy I found out that I had a medical condition called Placenta Previa, which means that my placenta was covering the top part of my uterus. And that is bad … really bad! It was causing blood loss and I was passing blood clots the size of baseballs. I was really scared that the baby wasn’t going to make it, but with each ultrasound he was there and stronger than ever. I was told on a few occasions that I may not be able to carry my baby full term and that I could have a miscarriage at any moment. But I believed God; He had the final say.
Twenty weeks into my pregnancy I was placed on permanent bed rest, much to my dismay. Around twenty-four weeks (the Monday after my daughters 13th birthday) I experienced a really bad bleeding incident, to which I actually thought I lost my baby. I was having contractions and had to be taken to the hospital.
During my stay, I was admitted to the Antepartum unit of the hospital and would end up there for 16 days. I wasn’t able to have any visitors, which put me in a small state of worry. I don’t like being isolated from people unless I make it a choice. But in this matter, I didn’t have a choice. It was taken from me. Even though it was for the health and safety of myself and my baby, I didn’t like that I didn’t have a choice. No visitors at all was difficult considering everything I was dealing with already. Trying to keep my baby alive and healthy in the womb was challenging. I had many crying moments during my 16 days in the Antepartum unit and I started to question myself as a woman.
I thought that I caused this somehow, that my body gave up on me because of certain moments that I hadn’t been kind to it by not eating right and exercising. I blamed myself for having to be in the hospital and for my heavy bleeding. The hospital sent a therapist every few days to check on me and make sure I was mentally okay. I really appreciated that they cared about my mental health and wanted to make sure I was getting cared for in every aspect of my pregnancy. At the beginning I wasn’t okay mentally, but I was a woman of faith and instead of worrying, I began to pray every day while I was there. During that, God heard me and strengthened me.
What also kept me going was the love and support from specific people: my husband and baby sister. They called and FaceTimed me every day, twice a day. They really kept my spirits up. I passed the time by doing things that kept my interest. Also talking to my other two kids kept me laughing. After being released, I hoped I wouldn’t have to go back until the birth of our son, but little did I know that my water would break at thirty one weeks (on Memorial Day to be exact) and I would be sent right back into the hospital until I gave birth at thirty four weeks by scheduled C-section on June 15, 2020.
I can truly say that my pregnancy experience was a humbling one. I had to trust others to take care of me as I would take care of me. The Lord really showed me kindness, love, and attention. I was very well taken care of during both of my long stays in the hospital. Physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally every need was met. I kept my mind on God and His word, that He would hold me up with His righteous hand. Although I had moments where I thought I was being defeated, He showed me His grace was sufficient.
However, this may not be the same for other women going through a similar experience. Many are suffering from isolation and not having a support system to help them during a time that should be beautiful and peaceful. For them, it could be highly stressful, and they may not have the resources or anyone to encourage them through their pregnancy. I would say that if you are a woman that is pregnant right now and need a helping hand, talk to your physician. There are programs and people out there that can help you navigate through this time of uncertainty in your life. Please speak up and don’t let your voice or concerns get lost. It’s okay to need and get as much support as possible. You are bringing another life into this world and that is a beautiful moment. You need as much support and comfort as your newborn will need when he/she arrives.
I would also say to women who are pregnant right now - or maybe just had their bundle of joy(s) and are getting all the care, love, and support from the people around them - be that for someone else. Be that light and laughter that another mother needs during this time. Your strength, courage, and love could be the spark that ignites the life of someone else in the same space as you once were - or currently are. It’s okay to support others as you are being supported yourself. More than anything, right now we have to love each other and stand united. For we face two enemies that we cannot see, and neither of them will make it easy for us. Be strong and of good courage new mommy. You are loved and we support you. Stay blessed.
If you or anybody you know are experiencing challenges with your mental health, please contact the NAMI helpline Monday through Friday, 10am-6pm, EST, 1-800-950-6264 or email@example.com. You can always contact your physician or local hospital for assistance as well.
Shebah Etosha Brown