A week before the world shut down I welcomed my second son into the world.
I’d heard about the Coronavirus and the outbreak in China, and cases in the U.S. had started to pop up, but what was about to unfold never crossed my mind.
My OB appointments remained normal (though they did start asking people if they’d traveled outside of the country recently), and during my hospital stay no extra or extreme precautions were taken. My son was born on March 9, and within 10 days South Carolina was shut down.
A lot has changed since those early days. A little less fear, a lot more mask-wearing, but still a lot of confusion and unknowns.
Honestly, being quarantined with a newborn hasn’t been THE WORST thing. My husband has been working from home and I’ve been able to take time at home; healing, resting and spending time with my family. That was all good when we thought this pandemic would only last a couple of weeks.
Here we are though, four months later with no sight of “normal” on the horizon. I know this time has been hard on everyone, for a variety of reasons, and sometimes my complaints feel insignificant or small. But I’m a big believer in “all feelings are valid”, so I try not to discount those big feelings when they show up.
Sadness. Fear. Loneliness. Guilt. Anger.
I hate that I’ve missed out on the traditional postpartum experience. Our first son was adopted at six weeks, so this was my first pregnancy and delivery. It was a special time I was excited to share with loved ones. I was looking forward to our families getting to meet our son and introducing him to friends. I was ready (eventually) to resume play dates with my toddler and coffee dates with girlfriends. I was looking forward to family get-together’s to celebrate holidays this spring and summer. I was pumped up and ready for summer 2020, but all of that is gone for now.
I know a lot of caregivers also are struggling with feelings of loneliness and guilt. We all need our social circle. As a SAHM I especially rely on my friends to help get me through the tough times. They are my sounding board. The ones I share my parenting accomplishments (and failures) with. The ones who know what I’m going through when I don’t even know sometimes.
They are the ones who can just look at me and know somethings up. New moms need that. I miss them.
The guilt has also been super heavy. We’ve been letting our toddler have way too much screen time and not enough outdoor time. We’ve slacked on meals at times, gotten out of routines, and probably spent way too much time in pajamas. We feel bad that he’s missing out on life too, and worry about the social/emotional impact quarantining might have on him in the future. We tell ourselves kids are resilient and we hope that everything goes back to normal sooner rather than later, but the guilt is still there.
Finding a NEW Normal
As stressful as this has been, there have been some things that have made this time a little easier to weather. For one, having my husband home past paternity leave has been a blessing. The extra help with our toddler has been amazing! Plus we’ve been able to spend more time together as a family. This has been really helpful as we transitioned from a family of three to a family of four.
In place of in-person gatherings, we’ve taken to the internet to celebrate special moments or just for a simple game night. We’ve implemented weekly Zoom meetings with family and FaceTime dates with friends. We’ve taken advantage of the family porch photography trend, and definitely supported local businesses offering curbside pickup or delivery services.
I’m still struggling to adjust to this new kind of normal, but I do have some tips on getting through this time.
- Find support. I’ve connected with other postpartum moms on Instagram and Facebook. It’s nice to have people to turn to who get what I’m going through.
- Find time for yourself. For me that used to be trips to Target or a pedicure every now and then. Now, it looks like a drive by myself or an extra-long (uninterrupted) shower.
- Find the normal where you can. It may be small things, like a walk around the neighborhood, a visit to the zoo or the museum. Sure, things WILL look and feel different, but find normalcy where you can.
- This is temporary. I know it doesn’t feel like it. The unknown ahead is even more stressful and even hopeless feeling sometimes. But just remember that someday things will go (mostly) back to normal and this will just be another thing we’ve lived through.
- Honor your feelings. Even when they seem small or even petty. They are real and they are valid If you are having trouble dealing with your feelings, seek help.