I Delivered a Baby During a Global Pandemic: My Pregnancy and Birth Story.
My husband and I found out I was pregnant on Thursday, July 18th. It was one of those moments where I had a strong feeling something was up when my boobs were killing me, my stomach felt “fuller,” and my appetite was beginning to change. Plus, the obvious tell-tale sign was I was 5 days late for my upcoming menstrual cycle. My doctor’s office called me and asked if I had gotten my period yet, and also to give me information about a previous test for progesterone levels. I told the doctor “no,” and she told me to go take a test. I had plans to go to brunch with a girlfriend on that day, and on the way to meet her I picked up a pregnancy test (or three) and thought to take it at her house. I’m really glad I waited until I got home.
I flew home after hanging for a bit, thankfully I was wearing a dress because it eliminated an additional step of unzipping pants or pulling down shorts. I took the test, walked away, let Penny (our dog) out in the yard, and revisited the test. “PREGNANT.” In bold letters. I screamed. I jumped. I cried. I brought Penny back in to tell her I was pregnant and she wagged her tail (did she really understand?). I then remembered, “Shit, how am I going to tell Troy.” I immediately jumped into the car, sped over to Stop and Shop, and grabbed a bottle of Prego sauce. I was picking him up from the train in about an hour and was practically bursting at the seams with excitement. I picked him up from the train, drove home, and mandated that he get me something from the kitchen. I laid some mail over the taken tests (I took two more just to be certain there’s a bun in the oven..) and he was speechless, with a large grin on his face. We we’re going to be parents… and had no idea that we would be giving birth to a newborn son in the midst of a global health crisis.
My first trimester sucked: I was insanely nauseous, could only stomach bagels and apples, hated the smell of my dog and the basement, and could barely stay awake. We also decided to keep our pregnancy private and off social platforms until he was here, just to keep it extra special. The first few weeks began to fly as the seasons changed, and before I knew it I was at my 20 week scan. The doctors had initially picked up that my son’s (which, we actually didn’t know was a boy, because we too kept that a surprise even for us) had a slightly thickened back of his neck which could indicate some genetic abnormalities, and so we had to do some extra testing). The 20-week scan went along fine, and he was progressing and growth neuro-typically. Simultaneously, I was growing too 🙂
I had to get an echocardiogram on the baby’s heart to make sure that his chambers were developing well and that his ventricles and such were all growing. Thankfully, everything checked out fine and as I progressed in my pregnancy, I felt lots of movement and kicks, especially when I would lay down for sleep. I entered the third trimester and welcomed all sorts of discomforts: insomnia, heartburn, incredible gas pains, you name it. I also started to swell. My doctor would consistently check my urine for proteins and my blood pressure but I was never diagnosed with preeclampsia.
The term Coronavirus had begun to circulate around the office and weave its way into conversations with friends mid to late-February, with my due date slowly approaching – March 21st. I hadn’t thought much of it because no one else seemed to consider it a problem, let alone the government. I started working exclusively from my office and March 3rd I had a shooting pain in my back that wrapped into the front of my stomach which caused me to keel over. I left work and rushed to the doctor, they took my blood pressure and it was slightly high. I was also very swollen and dehydrated. My doctor advised me that it would be best if I remained home for the rest of my pregnancy. The timing could not have been more perfect considering two weeks later the entire country went upended with COVID-19 overtaking hundreds of thousands of humans, killing tens of thousands and counting. I was relieved I would be home, and still had no idea what was to come.
March 13th, I got my last manicure and pedicure, and learned that COVID-19 was beginning to spread rapidly which sent the entire country into a widespread panic. I went to Stop and Shop and got a few items, and promptly returned home. On March 17th, at 3:15am, I woke up with strong period-like cramps which lingered for anywhere between one minute to 90 seconds. They were approximately 7 minutes apart. I was having contractions. I timed my contractions for about an hour or so and made myself something to eat – especially because if I was in fact was in labor, I would not be able to eat until after the baby was born. At 5:00am I called my doctor and she told me to drive over to the hospital and check in to Labor and Delivery. At this time, only spouses were allowed to be in the hospital with the patient, no one else. Troy dropped me off at the front, my first encounter with people wearing masks and gloves who told me to stand at a distance. I went upstairs – third floor – to Maternity. I checked in and was asked to enter a room and get undressed. They gave me a gown and I laid on the bed. The time was now 5:45am.
One of the RNs came in to check my vitals. HeartRate: 103; Blood Pressure: 160/110. I was officially diagnosed with preeclampsia the day my son was born. Regardless if I was having contractions or not, I would have been admitted and induced anyway due to my blood pressure. I was admitted to the hospital at 9am, after a window of checking my cervix and monitoring my blood pressure. Today was the day that we get to meet our baby.
At around 11am I was taken to my own private room and the contractions began to increase with intensity. I had my epidural around 1:30pm, and was given a pill to induce me a half hour before that. I was at this point in excruciating pain. I could barely talk, I was crying, screaming, clenching onto the bed rails, and shouting profanities (even when I promised I wouldn’t be that preggo). Once the epidural set in (side note: the epidural is SO worth it, but it is very painful and stressful as you need to be completely still), my son’s heart rate began to sink at a rapid pace and my heart rate skyrocketed. Two nurses and two OB residents came rushing in, gave me oxygen, checked my cervix, and rolled me onto my side. His HR began to climb and settle, for a little. At around 3:30, I was checked again and was told that my pelvic bone and hips were tight and they were unsure if pushing my son out was the best and safest way to deliver. I was not completely sold on having a Cesarian surgery, but at this point I knew I needed to do whatever I could to get this baby out as safely as possible. My OB came in at 4pm and began to discuss the idea of a C-section and I was all for it, especially knowing that there was a higher risk of complications if we went vaginally, and his heart rate was plummeting again. We agreed on a C-section, and in an snap several doctors came in to check on me, coach me, discuss procedures, and rolled me into the OR. I was pumped with more anesthesia and felt absolutely nothing. NOT A THING. Troy scrubbed in, sat next to my head and held my hand. We were about to meet our baby. Around 4:20 was the first incision and our son, Rowen Gray, was born at 4:59pm. The immense amount of love that filled my being the second he was born is indescribable. He is our world now, and we are so grateful to have him earth side.
Due to my preeclampsia, Rowen was born with very low blood glucose levels which led to him being admitted to the NICU, for TWELVE days. Not only was the COVID-19 pandemic getting significantly worse by the day, but now we weren’t able to leave the hospital with our son. I was more than a mess. I was distraught, manic, depressed, melancholy, and petrified. We just wanted him home. Everyday that I visited, the protocols changed: we had to wear masks, only one parent at a time, one day we weren’t even able to visit him. I would run breastmilk up to the NICU on a daily basis, while Troy would stay in the car. It was depressing to say the least. Finally, March 29th, he was able to come home. A weight was lifted, yet we still needed to figure out how to navigate a newborn through a scenario that is less than perfect: we aren’t allowed visitors at the home due to this pandemic.
This has been one hell of a ride so far, and I still don’t know what to make of it. We’re sleep deprived, my boobs are killing me from breast engorgement (I am able to breastfeed again but after pumping for two weeks straight as he was in NICU, my boobs are incredibly engorged), and anxious. VERY anxious. This pandemic has only taught us to be grateful for our family, our health, and our special time with our little lucky boy. We desperately wish our family could come over and help out, but this is our current state: isolation. What an uncertain time. I know several other expecting mamas who are feeling the same way, and the only thing I can say is to lean on your partner, manifest gratitude in your health and the safety of others by this quarantine, and baske in the joy of a newborn baby. If anything can act as a silver lining, I’ll say that Rowen has one hell of a story to start his journey on earth.