Prior to my March due date, I was a little concerned about the tail end of cold and flu season — my husband and I joked about living in a bubble and getting one of those car seat stop signs that warns strangers not to touch the baby. Little did I know — cold and flu germs would be the least of my worries.
We were lucky enough to have our son the last week of February, just before COVID-19 hit Massachusetts in full force. However, that meant the majority of my maternity leave and the following months have been spent in quarantine, dealing with the horrible reality of a global pandemic.
To say this isn’t what I expected would be an understatement, and I’ve had my share of emotional “why can’t everything be normal” moments. But I’ve tried to make the most of the situation — both for me and for my brand new baby boy, who’s getting his first look at the world in these especially strange times.
Here are four big things I looked forward to, and how I’ve coped without them:
VisitorsI’m so thankful — and lucky! — that my parents came out to meet their grandson just in the nick of time, and made it back home before things got too crazy. But when social distancing and iffy air travel nixed our plans for welcoming additional visitors and introducing them to our son, we took to video chats and shared photo albums. While obviously nowhere near the same as in-person encounters, technology makes it possible for people to see and talk to him in real time and follow along in pictures and videos as he hits fun and exciting milestones.
TravelWhat should’ve been my first Mother’s Day in San Francisco — with my own mom — became a quiet but special weekend at home. We traded visiting close friends, another new baby, and my in-laws in Arizona for a day trip to one of our favorite New Hampshire hiking spots — just the three of us. On a whim, we decided to take an in-state beach vacation to an area that’s been on our list of spots to explore for years. I’m so excited to travel out of the region again and see greatly missed friends and family, but for now, we’re sticking around New England. (And, happily, that means we’re not packing up and lugging our entire lives around airports in a stressful frenzy — yet!)
Restaurant OutingsI thought that breakfast and lunch dates with my son and local friends would be the norm during my leave. But instead, my husband and I made frequent Starbucks drive-thru trips armed with our sanitizing wipes (because, coffee). And when we were missing our usual Sunday brunches, we scarfed down takeout in the car with a screaming three-month-old. Not ideal, but a less-than-relaxing experience I definitely won’t forget. Thankfully, outdoor summer BBQs have become increasingly popular at many of our favorite restaurants and breweries — and we’ve been taking full advantage.
Local FavoritesCOVID-19 completely changed some of my favorite go-to outings. I was excited to head to the local library and try infant story time; instead, I snuggled up on the couch with my son every Wednesday morning and tuned in virtually. It definitely wasn’t the same, but it taught us some of our favorite songs. My dreams of pick-your-own blueberry season with a cute baby strapped to my chest were squashed by mandatory reservations, which are totally understandable, but aren’t easy to commit to with an all-over-the-place sleep and feeding schedule. However, the farm offered an easy ordering and pick-up system, so we were still able to buy fruit and baked goods.
At times, it’s been tough, but there are silver linings:
The newborn days are fleeting — they’re days I’ll never get back — and I feel so fortunate that I got to spend so much time with my new baby, free from the distractions of the outside world. My transition back to work (from home!) was so much easier on my emotions than it would’ve been. And, not to mention, my husband has been working from home ever since his paternity leave ended, giving the three of us additional quality time together that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise…and making our family doubly lucky.
Plans are changing, restrictions and guidelines are evolving, and uncertainty is growing. Whether you’re pregnant now or you’re the parent of a new baby, my best advice is to just go with it. Stay safe and find joy in the little things — your little one won’t always want to sit in your lap and read, listen to music and roll around on the floor with you, or delight in making funny faces back and forth…but they do now. Try to enjoy this time, even though it looks different than you originally planned.
More on Parenting During a Pandemic
- Try these 8 activities to help your family make the most of an unusual summer.
- Discover 10 ways to keep your kids connected to their friends during COVID-19.