by Cassidy Nunn | photos by Nunn Other Photography
By the time this column is published, I’ll have a 19-month-old. It’s been 19 months of pandemic living with a newborn and now a toddler. Most of my friends have still never held my daughter, and many have yet to see her in person. So I think it’s best to start at the beginning, to give some context to where we’re at as a family.
It’s common to have an idealized “birth plan” when expecting a baby. And while you’re told it’s good to have a plan, you’re also advised that likely nothing will go to that plan. But I like to be organized and prepared; I’d intended to stop working two weeks before our baby girl’s due date to spend time “nesting” a little. I had visions of decorating her unfinished nursery, shopping for last-minute baby items, cooking easy-to-freeze meals, and allowing myself to relax and enjoy the last days of being a family of two (not counting the fur babies).
Instead, as our community and much of the rest of the world headed into lockdown in mid-March 2020, I found out I was to be induced two weeks early. Baby girl was coming ahead of schedule and in a global pandemic. I’d been nervous before, but my anxiety and apprehension reached a whole new level as I watched my plan evaporate. There was no guide to having a baby during a global lockdown. With the restrictions, the doula we’d hired wouldn’t be permitted in with us for labour and delivery, but I was thankful my husband was so I’d have his support.
In the days leading up to my induction date, I didn’t leave the house other than for midwife and ultrasound appointments. My husband worked from home. My aunt grocery shopped for us. Out of an abundance of caution, we scrubbed the groceries in the sink wearing rubber gloves, looking at each other in disbelief. There were so many unknowns at that time about how the virus was spread, so many questions we didn’t yet have answers for.
We read the news incredulously as we heard how COVID-19 was spreading and affecting the world. We met my best friend’s newborn by FaceTime. We held Zoom meetings with our doula and grappled with the difficult decision as to whether we should risk having our parents come over after our baby was born to help.
The thought of us being completely alone with a newborn, running on almost no sleep with no extra physical support, was daunting. That saying – it takes a village to raise a child – kept running through my mind. What do you do when you’re supposed to stay away from the village?
But pandemic or not, this baby was coming. Our daughter arrived healthy, with a thick head of hair and beautiful big eyes. I was filled with relief and more love than I thought was possible. Our hospital team was so supportive, kind and helpful during such a huge moment in our lives and during a very stressful time for health care workers especially.
When I look back, her birth marked the beginning of an enormous shift in our lives in two ways: the world outside was changed drastically and the world inside our home and relationship was transformed as this little being entered our family and made us parents.
The proverbial village was still there for us, offering support as best they could from afar, with front-door food drop offs, calls, texts and video chats. It wasn’t the postpartum experience I’d envisioned, but the time it allowed us to bond and connect as a family has been special in its own way.