Sophie and Vivienne were born three weeks apart, although in two different countries. Geographically neighbors, but worlds apart. Sophie, Rebecca’s daughter, was born in Comox Valley, Canada, on May, 4th. While Vivienne, Kelcey’s daughter, was born in Santa Clara, California, on May, 25th. By mid July, Canada had counted 108,486 cases of Covid-19 and 8,798 reported deaths.
The United States is a whole different story. By mid July, the USA had reached the highest step at the podium, worldwide. With over 3 million confirmed cases and almost 140,000 deaths, the United States has been overwhelmed by Coronavirus.
Kelcie’s worries for her pregnancy and childbirth were based in facts and hard truths.
“My biggest concern was that I might get sick right before my baby was born, and that we would have to be separated after her birth,” said Kelcie.
Her and her husband had been isolating since March, 15th, when California issued a statewide stay at home order. While Rebecca, up in Canada, didn’t have to deal with a lockdown, things changed for her screenings. Both mothers had phone appointments with midwives and doctors and, when they finally had in person appointments, their partners couldn’t join. Rebecca had to wait in the car for her turn to go into the doctor’s office. Both in Canada and in the USA, Rebecca and Kelcie had to wash their hands when they entered the building and they met with staff wearing masks.
Some appointments were cancelled and so were the newborn care classes and labor preparations that Kelcie looked forward to. For a new mother, the in-person instructions and interactions are not only vital to prepare for childbirth and life with a newborn. Those in-person classes are also crucial to build a support network of mothers who go through the same worries and the same emotions.
While Kelcie missed out on the classes about breathing techniques and about the methods of coping with labor pain, on the opposite side of the border, Rebecca was wrestling with the idea of giving birth at the hospital. Her and her husband debated between whether to have a home birth due to the risks of Covid-19.
“We decided on a hospital birth because the labour and delivery ward has very safe and very strict protocols in place,” says Rebecca, “better than risking having to be rushed to hospital and having first responders in our home.”
The fathers were both allowed in the delivery but no visitors were allowed afterwards. Kelcie’s parents were heartbroken because they couldn’t be there for their daughter and nephew and they had no idea when they could finally meet Vivienne. Rebecca had the same emotions rushing through her, especially since her husband had to travel to Norway two weeks after Sophie was born. Rebecca was alone with her newborn for five weeks, pushing through with her strength. But there was a silver lining.
“Those first 2 weeks of isolation with just us as a family getting to know one another was special without any interruptions,” said Rebecca.
Despite the challenges and worries, both the mothers found the upside to a hard situation. Thanks to the lockdown, Kelcie and her husband enjoyed two months at home and alone, before Vivienne was born. And she wouldn’t change a thing.
“When she is older, we’ll tell Vivienne that she was born during a quarantine, and that we made every sacrifice to keep her safe,” said Kelcie.
Still, this is a difficult time, since parents have to decide between the safety of their baby and allowing loved ones to visit. We all hope that by the time Sophie and Vivienne grow up, there will be a vaccine and it will be safe for all of us to hug.
Content by Gaia Zol