On Parenting in a Bubble

At the time of this writing, I’ve been a mother for three months and one day. When I found out the blessed heir was on his way, coronavirus was still something happening half a world away. There was no talk of stateside quarantines, masks or vaccines; I was thinking about baby shower hosts, where the hell a kid would fit in our bungalow-style house, and when my magical bigger boobs would arrive (spoiler alert: NEVER! Turns out you gain pregnancy weight in the usual areas you gain weight. So I just looked like a 14-year-old boy with a round face and ham hocks for upper arms.)

The only upside of living in a red state with very lax COVID restrictions is that my husband could attend all doctor’s appointments with me. I know that’s not the case for most people, and I truly feel sorry for those who had to experience those exciting and sometimes scary appointments and tests alone.

I was able to have a lovely Zoom baby shower, but will never get to have the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” themed baby shower I’ve been secretly planning for at least seven years. I fully recognize there are bigger problems in the world– hundreds of thousands of people are dying, so many couples are waging the war against infertility– but if I learned anything from my mother-in-law’s death two years ago, it’s that grief is not a contest. Truly unthinkable things can be happening to others, and you’re still allowed to be sad for losses in your own life.

You lose so.much.sleep. over “how will I keep my baby safe?” “I want my parents want to meet him, but my mom is getting her hair cut a week before my due date and how do I know her hairstylist wears a mask in the grocery store?!” “WAS THAT A COUGH OHMYGOD I’M CLEARLY PREGNANT PLEASE FALL DOWN A FLIGHT OF STAIRS LADY AT THE OTHER END OF THE PARKING LOT.” Followed by pre-delivery virus tests, not getting to leave your hospital room, and, God forbid– laboring in a mask. (Which I didn’t have to do! But was so real for so many people!)

And then the baby is here. And it’s a Saturday night and he’s been around long enough that you’ve just started thinking, “I’ve… maybe… got this?” And in any other year, you’d be meeting up with friends at a brewery so they could hold the baby, or having your cousins and their kids over for dinner so you could all be like, “lol wasted on half a beer #momlyfe” but you can’t. And that’s what’s been the hardest. All of the texts and Instagram DM’s and FaceTimes from other moms and family have been a lifeline, but you can’t replace the in-person village.