Embracing the Unknown: What It’s Like Prepping as a First-Time Mom During the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 18, 2020

Jamie Barretto is a 34-year-old first-time mother who lives on Long Island. She wrote this first-person perspective on how life has changed in her world since she found out she was expecting in October.

Jamie Barretto is a 34-year-old first-time mother who lives on Long Island. She wrote this first-person perspective on how life has changed in her world since she found out she was expecting in October.

She is scheduled for a cesarean delivery on June 2 due to anterior placenta and breech position of the fetus. She wrote this when she was 31 weeks pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) last updated its practice guidelines on April 23, at which time the United States was in the acceleration phase of the pandemic. ACOG has developed COVID-19 FAQs for ob/gyns to supplement this Practice Advisory and provide additional information for clinicians on the front lines of the pandemic.

By Jamie Barretto

I vividly remember the first time I thought about being a mom. I was almost 3 years old and it was while meeting my brother after he was born that I saw the instant connection he and my mother shared. I knew I wanted that same experience one day. My husband and I have been together for years and waited for the perfect time in our lives, or what would be as close to “perfect” as possible, to start our family.

We both have jobs we love and had started the process of buying our first home, so when we found out in early October that we were expecting, it was nothing short of a dream.

I knew that pregnancy would bring with it a ton of unknowns like how I would feel physically, mentally, and emotionally; what it would be like to go from being in the gym most days to no longer having any control over how my body was quickly changing, and let’s not even start rehashing the millions of scary thoughts I have surrounding my actual delivery; however, I could have never predicted that my baby girl would be born while we faced the crisis known as coronavirus.

Fast forward to present day and I’m 31 weeks pregnant. My belly is getting rounder daily and feeling my little girl kick is better than I ever imagined. So many things are continuing to change by the hour as this pandemic has dramatically changed the world in which we live. Here in Long Island, New York, we’re not even supposed to leave our home unless it’s to go to the doctor or food shopping. The most exciting part of my day is going for a walk around my new neighborhood and I have to cross the street to maintain a safe distance every time I see another person. I work in Midtown Manhattan and have been working from home for almost 3 weeks as my office has closed.

As I write this, the hospital I will be delivering in is only allowing one support person to be there with me, yet that person will be FORCED to leave before postpartum recovery begins. As a first-time mom-to-be, I have no idea what to expect throughout my labor process and to compound that by possibly not having my husband by my side throughout this journey is frightening. All I can do is hope this rule changes before my baby comes and that the person I feel safest with can be there to hold my hand every step of the way.

Although I’m at the point where I should be having doctor visits every 2 weeks, they’ve been doing their part to keep us pregnant ladies safe and are pushing my visits to 3-week intervals. My visit experiences change constantly, and immediately after the pandemic hit hard, I was forced to go through a checkpoint before I could even enter the office, where I answered questions related to how I’m feeling, like if I have a cough or any flu-like symptoms, before proceeding to the waiting room.

Once I successfully entered, everyone was in masks and covered in what reminded me of hazmat suits. Currently, I call my obstetrician’s office when I arrive in the parking lot and once the previous person has left, they call me to come in. This all makes me incredibly anxious, although I keep telling myself it’s all precautionary.

I’m now being faced with potentially canceling my next and last 32-week sonogram to reduce the risk of being exposed to the virus. While I want to protect my daughter, I have been counting down the days to seeing her tiny face and know that I will have to wait another 2 months to see her development if I don’t see her now.

I haven’t been able to make this vital decision yet, or make up my mind about canceling what was supposed to be our joint baby shower and housewarming party, which was scheduled for May, as I’m secretly hoping this is all a nightmare I will wake up from before my rapidly approaching due date.

As this baby grows inside of me, there are so many unanswered questions that I need to roll with, at least for the moment. One thing I know is that however and whenever she arrives, she will be loved more than words can express.

Jamie Barretto is a guest columnist for Contemporary OB/GYN, providing a patient’s perspective on being pregnant during the pandemic.