Pandemic Motherhood Diary: A Very Different Kind of Birth
By Melissa Menny
An early Sunday morning in late November greeted me with painful contractions and an invasive nasal swab.
Our second son decided to arrive earlier than expected, thus forcing us to forego our scheduled cesarean and my scheduled covid test. It was definitely not something I cared to have done while trying to distract myself from labor pains.
I am aware that COVID-19 is still a reality. It is still a pandemic for my household and myself. However, no number of questions I asked my doctor pre-birth prepared me for the night-and-day experience of giving birth this past November compared to December of 2019.
I was surrounded by at least six or seven nurses two years ago following the labor and birth of our first son. The response to a pregnant woman with contractions that were three minutes apart was more dramatic and immediate. The room was busy and there were multiple nurses tending to me at once. This time around I was assigned one nurse, eventually two. I was left alone a lot which felt very odd. There I was lying down uncomfortably and breathing as much as I could to endure the pains while in a room alone. This felt very abnormal.
The pro was I could actually take my mask off and breathe peacefully. The con was I had no one around if I needed anything or if something went wrong. Thankfully the nurse was there when I needed to vomit, otherwise, it would have ended up on the floor. My contractions were three minutes apart, yet the rules were clearly different this time. I was even instructed to get out of the bed and into a wheelchair on my own mid-contractions. It was as if no one was trying to crowd me until they needed to, which was during my actual cesarean.
Our little person arrived three hours later. Following the cries of our seven-pound bundle of joy came the agony of feeling my uterus being pushed back in place. I was then immediately put under general anesthesia until the surgery was over.
Everything else that followed had a small taste of familiarity. My husband was allowed to be in the room with me, which had been a huge concern for us. We were not sure if COVID rules would allow his presence until a few weeks before my doctor gave us the green light. We were lucky that in this instance it worked out in our favor.
And we were able to bond in our room with our son without masks. That small moment made us almost forget about the pandemic. It was just a moment to press pause, but it was everything.