You’ve likely seen the powerful Facebook ad, “Born in Quarantine,” which celebrates the strength of all the moms who have given birth in the past few months under quarantine. The coronavirus pandemic has created a vast community of moms bonded by the collective experience of bringing a baby into our precarious world during this unprecedented time. In spite of the obvious downsides, the pandemic can offer some moms with new babies a bright side - actually several.
The Nicolosi Family
The story of the Nicolosi family exemplifies how living on lockdown with a newborn can create lasting memories. A full-time mom in Philadelphia’s Main Line suburbs, Christina Nicolosi gave birth to her fourth son less than a week before the state began to shut down from the coronavirus outbreak. When news about the coronavirus broke, Christina took it very seriously, thanks in large part to her degree in Biochemical Engineering and background in vaccine manufacturing.
When she developed a cough at nine months pregnant, Christina began to freak out. Her anxiety turned into panic when she went into labor triggered by a coughing fit, and her baby was born with a slight fever. Fortunately, both Christina and her baby were fine and cleared to head home the next day. What transpired over the following three months was a postpartum experience completely unlike her previous three.
Co-Parenting for the First Time
Christina’s husband Joe runs the family business DiNic’s Roast Pork, the famous sandwich shop located in Reading Terminal Market. After their previous two sons’ births, Joe had to return to work the day after Christina came home from the hospital due to the demands of his job. This time, however, the new baby arrived as the coronavirus outbreak was escalating. After many long and difficult discussions, Christina and Joe decided that it was in the best interest of their family to shut the business down until it was safe to reopen. Thus began a postpartum period with a pandemic baby that their entire family will always remember fondly.
For the first time ever, Christina and Joe became a true co-parenting team. Witnessing firsthand what Christina had to do with their four boys day in and day out, Joe became hyper-attentive to the family’s needs and gave up the downtime that he used to crave on his days off work. The two of them fell into a tag-teaming routine, orchestrating the older boys’ distance learning and dividing duties to give each child individual attention. They had time to bond in ways they never had before, like going on regular family walks.
Marveling at what a special opportunity they had, Christina remarked, “When does a dad ever get to spend three months at home with his young children?” Christina had newfound freedom to enjoy one-on-one time with her newborn knowing that her other sons were in the best hands. Meanwhile, her two-year-old developed an obsession with his dad, and the pair of them became inseparable. Joe was given a chance to build a relationship with his sons that he wouldn’t have had otherwise.
The Bonus of a Bubble
Coming from a large, close-knit family, Christina was sad at first that they couldn’t share this time with grandparents and extended family. Their now three-month-old has only ever been held by his two parents. At the same time, she appreciated the experience of their immediate family unit alone, “but not so alone since there are so many of us,” she added.
Being in a bubble has its benefits. Always a germaphobe, Christina no longer needed to worry about the bigger kids bringing home viruses from school and infecting the household. It was refreshing to not have to police other people about touching or hovering over the baby. Christina already looks back on this peaceful time with nostalgia, since she knows that everything is going to change now that Joe reopened the business on June 16th. The pandemic brought much unexpected happiness to their family.
Like the Nicolosis, many families are discovering good in all the bad that has struck in 2020. For those in a position to stay home and/or work from home, parents of newborns are able to share responsibilities, establish new rhythms, and bond as a team unit. For the postpartum moms whose partners have been home during the pandemic, they might not feel the isolation that so often strikes after the dust settles after childbirth. Many moms with newborns at home are doing exactly what they would have been doing regardless of the pandemic, and there is no FOMO (“fear of missing out”) since all social events are off. In a way, everyone around the world has been riding the emotional rollercoaster of a postpartum mom.
Birth in a Pandemic
If you are currently pregnant, giving birth during a global pandemic might feel nerve-wracking, but it can still be a wonderful, safe experience. Hospitals are more vigilant than ever with around-the-clock sterilization and the most stringent safeguards in place for patients’ protection. The new policies implemented for COVID-19 safety might even be beneficial for bonding with your baby.
Instead of having the option to send your baby to the hospital nursery to get some rest, you might be required to keep your baby in your room. You also might be encouraged to return home earlier than in normal times once you and your baby are cleared for discharge. In the grand scheme of things, snatching a few hours of sleep apart from your baby in the hospital and going home a day early will not dramatically impact your recovery. More time one-on-one with your baby in the hospital and at home means you’ll have more opportunities to bond, practice essential baby care skills, and soak up newborn snuggles.
Support at EmmaWell
Because so many in-person education courses and community groups for new moms have been canceled due to COVID-19, EmmaWell is going to offer support “Circles” led by therapists from the Postpartum Stress Center, starting the week of 6/29. Using EmmaWell’s telehealth platform, these Circles will connect moms looking for a support system and provide timely, expert guidance on concerns related to the third trimester or the postpartum period. For more information on EmmaWell’s Circles, follow us on Facebook or Instagram.
Seeing the silver lining in having a baby during the coronavirus crisis requires a shift in outlook that might not be possible for those truly struggling. Some families may have a parent on the front lines or be financially impacted by job loss in a way that casts a shadow over the postpartum period. Moms who are essential workers might be rushing back to work instead of enjoying an extended maternity leave. And some moms might be so wracked with anxiety that they can’t enjoy or appreciate time with their new baby. If you are unable to find joy during this turbulent time, please prioritize your mental wellness and consider booking an appointment with our therapists from the Postpartum Stress Center. You are not alone!
With Warmth and Wellness,
Your EmmaWell Team