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Expecting Without Knowing What to Expect

What if I get sick during these last few weeks because I need to go to the hospital for prenatal checkups and tests? What if my husband gets sick and he isn’t allowed into the hospital? What if he doesn’t get sick, but hospital policy changes or there isn’t enough PPE and he isn’t allowed into the birth? Will I have to wear a mask during my surgery? If I test positive for COVID-19, will my baby be taken away from me? 

These are all the questions that are on my mind as I get closer and closer to my scheduled C-Section. It’s stressful to be pregnant. It’s stressful to be pregnant with toddlers. It’s stressful to be quarantined at home while pregnant with said toddlers. And, it’s stressful to know that everything could change. Because it’s been changing every day. It’s expecting without knowing what to expect. Here are my thoughts and worries about being pregnant and giving birth during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Expecting Without Knowing What to Expect

Giving Birth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

My friends have asked me about any hospital updates, but honestly, I haven’t bothered checking. As we get closer and closer to the estimated peak of the COVID-19 virus here in Los Angeles, hospital policy changes from day-to-day, so why waste my time checking until we get closer to the delivery date. 

As it stands right now, I’m 37 weeks pregnant and I haven’t seen my doctor in four weeks – I’ve missed three appointments. Three weeks ago, I got sick with a bad cold which consisted of a bad cough, but never had a fever, nor did the five other family members who also got sick. It’s unknown if we had COVID-19 or just a really bad cold because tests are not readily available in California. But, because I was sick, I switched my first in-office appointment to a telephone appointment. The following week I went to my scheduled in-office appointment, but I wasn’t allowed into the hospital because even though I felt better and never had a fever, I had had a recent cough. And then this week’s appointment was canceled by the hospital/doctor and hopefully, it will be rescheduled or else it will be another week and a half before I’m scheduled to see my doctor for my pre-op appointment. It’s all part of the craziness of this pandemic – fewer prenatal visits.

But let’s get back to my questions. The biggest question I have is will my husband will be allowed at our son’s birth? Will hospital policy change to simply ban all birthing partners like they tried to do in New York? Are they banning support persons into the Labor and Delivery triage area? Will there be enough PPE for him to wear into the OR during the C-Section? 

Currently, or at least the last I was told, my hospital is allowing one support person for the delivery, however, that’s for a vaginal delivery. I don’t know if that will change. Other nearby hospitals in Los Angeles are kicking the one support person out immediately following birth (after the cord is cut) and not allowing them into the postpartum unit. Other hospitals are not allowing in/out privileges. According to other mothers on the “What to Expect” app, other Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California are allegedly not allowing partners into the OR for the C-Section due to a lack of PPE. 

As of right now, I have to plan to go into this birth that I will have a C-Section all by myself without my husband. It breaks my heart to think that my husband will not be able to witness our son’s entrance into this world as he did with our twins. I’m also nervous about having to go into a surgery where I’m awake the entire time without a familiar face to comfort me. (Side note: I really, really hope my OBGYN doesn’t get sick – she’s going to have to become my one familiar face.) It’s a scary situation. I mean, my husband tells really bad jokes, but he’s really good about calming me down during stressful situations.

I mean, look at this goofball.

UPDATE: The current policy for Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles is that my husband will NOT be allowed into the OR for C-Section. They haven’t worked out the specifics of where he will be sent (likely either the car or my future recovery room), but we’ll figure that out as we get closer. Current policy is still being worked out, but I will be tested for COVID-19 a couple of days before to get timely results so that the doctors can plan according to the results. 

I’m a planner and I don’t “go with the flow” very easily. It’s probably why a scheduled C-Section birth really appeals to me. There’s a sense of calm that comes with just knowing when we’re going to the hospital (provided the little man doesn’t try to come early) and what will happen when we get there. So, I’ve basically had to plan for the worst.

I’ve had to tell myself that my worst-case scenario birth plan could be that my husband is dropping me off at the curb at the hospital, me having the baby by myself with a C-Section and hopefully being able to FaceTime with my husband during the surgery and have a nurse take photos over the curtain of my son’s birth. My husband then gets to meet our son two days later out in the parking lot. 

My worst, worst-case scenario is all of the above, but also testing positive for Covid19 and being quarantined from my baby and having to fight and advocate for skin-to-skin bonding, breastfeeding, etc. since the CDC is recommending the baby to be isolated from the mother for seven days (which is insane because the hospital is just going to discharge the baby with the mother after 2-3 days and recommend that she wear a mask, gloves, and practice good hygiene.)

Basically, as of right now, I don’t know what to expect. My family is strictly self-isolating to try to make sure that we don’t get sick before the little man’s scheduled arrival. We’re only leaving the house for walks in the neighborhood, grocery store pick-ups (the worker loads the groceries directly into the back of the car), and my doctor appointments. I’m going to plan for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best knowing that women have been giving birth forever. 

All that said, I have to acknowledge that we’re really lucky. Neither my husband or myself are currently employed due to the pandemic, but we’re doing ok financially. Plus, it’s probably a blessing that my husband is NOT an essential worker so that he can stay home, self-isolate, and help me with the twins (because I’m not getting any smaller). We also have access to great healthcare and we’re not in jeopardy of losing it due to unemployment. We also have access to childcare help. When the time comes to give birth, my husband’s parents have also been strictly self-isolating so they can come and stay with the twins for a few days. So while this experience has been more stressful than usual, I’m extremely grateful for what isn’t stressful. 

Yes, this pandemic has thrown off my “birth plan,” but it is what it is. There’s no one I can be mad at (except for patient 0 and he/she is likely dead). And as long as my little man and I get home healthy, I will consider it a successful birth.

All photos (except the ones of my silly husband in his PPE) were taken by the talented Ilene Squires of Ilene Squires Photography. If you’re local to Los Angeles, I highly recommend booking maternity, family, or wedding photos with her!

 

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