This post has been in my drafts for a long time, and I wanted to finally finish it out and give it a home on the internet. I saw a post early on in the pandemic about how insulting and disrespectful it was to call babies conceived or born during 2020 “pandemic babies,” but I have called Davis that on my own since the pandemic hit last spring. For me, it was a way to keep things light as I mourned the idea of what I thought my son’s first year of life would be like. I know that sounds dramatic, and we have been truly blessed in so many ways, but it has been very different raising our first child than I ever could have imagined. For instance, when your one-year-old’s idea of a good time is playing with the forehead digital thermometer and rolling around in the dog bed like a dog, you kind of ask yourself if these things are normal or if they’re a by-product of his circumstances! During my pregnancy, I imagined taking him places, showing him off, bringing him to school to meet everyone…but none of those things were possible. Even seeing family was hard to do, and we avoided it for a while because there was so much uncertainty. We had his first birthday party at home by ourselves on a Zoom call with our family. Like I said, I know it could be worse, but these were the things I struggled with on top of being a first time mom and adjusting to a whole new life.
Davis lived with just us and our 3 dogs for the first several months of his life. He was born in January, so thankfully he did get to meet all of his grandparents before everything shut down, but it happened quickly. I can’t even imagine being one of the women who had to give birth alone, or who couldn’t even have one visitor in the hospital as a brand new mother. Mentally I don’t know how I could have handled that, especially because Davis spent his first four days in the NICU. Once all the shut downs happened, we did eventually see close family, but when we did, it was with stress, fear, and guilt. Do we wear a mask? Do we ask what everyone’s exposure has been? What if we expose them? What if they expose us? Are we being irresponsible? Our child care plans changed, as well as work, life, family adjustment…all of these things are difficult with any new baby, but especially a first baby. Throw in having a newborn, the first baby, a global pandemic, and both spouses teaching online…I was at a loss. It was hard, but of course I knew it was hard for everyone. Our story is not unique or different from many other new parents’ stories, and many others had it much worse than we did and had huge losses of life, livelihood, or well-being. With all of our hardships, we have been blessed to be able to spend so much time with Davis, especially at the beginning of his life when I don’t think I would have been ready to go back to work full-time. For that, I’ll always be grateful!
Davis still has several family members he hasn’t met because of Covid. He hasn’t even been able to see his pediatrician’s face! He is so used to masks that he thinks it’s a game to try to pull them off your face. All of these things are different than I thought they’d be, but they’re our only experiences, our only memories. We don’t get another chance on Davis; this is it. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, and trust me, we have had our share along with the rest of the world – but there is so much to be grateful for. At the end of the day, if your baby is a “pandemic baby,” and if you feel offended, okay with, or indifferent to that, then you’re still normal. We have never done this before as a society in our time. We are all navigating new waters. It’s okay to be sad about what you may have lost, but there has been a lot we have gained, as well.
This one’s for all the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and loved ones of the pandemic babies. And if your child thinks he or she is a dog, too…join the club 🙂