When baby and pandemic arrive together

Alisenne Boxall is experiencing pregnancy and birth in the time of the great pandemic.   Photo: Alex Stecky-Efantis

By Alisenne Boxall

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I never imagined that in my third trimester of pregnancy, our village would be under quarantine. They didn’t cover that in What to Expect When You’re Expecting!

I thought my husband and I had so much time to plan and get organized for our new arrival. After surviving the first trimester, this was finally the time when pregnancy got to be “fun.” We started setting up the nursery the week before the first official pandemic announcements. I had signed up for prenatal yoga and prenatal salsa dancing classes at the Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group (GNAG) in order to make new-mom friends. The classes were cancelled.

All my coworkers and friends who were parents told me that having a late spring baby is the best since the weather is nice and there’s plenty to do. I was so excited to make new friends and plan fun activities in the Glebe this summer – walks in the park, French classes for parents and babies, coffee dates, yes please, coffee! My husband and I were looking forward to shopping for baby necessities at the Great Glebe Garage Sale to reduce our consumption of new items, some of which would only be used for a handful of months.

The baby shower was coming up, and many of my out-of-town friends, whom I don’t get to see very often, had made plans to attend. Those plans were immediately cancelled. I started to realize we are going to be on our own. There will be no parties, no mom groups or classes. My mother-in-law, from a small village in Greece, told me I didn’t need all this stuff, that they didn’t have any of it “back in the village.” However, they did have grandparents and a community to show rookies how it’s done. That’s what I’ll miss the most.

Hospitals are limiting visitors to one, making women choose between their doulas and their partners. It’s rumoured that by the time it’s my turn, no visitors may be admitted due to a lack of protective equipment. Supply chains are broken; many items on our registry can no longer be acquired, and it’s anyone’s guess when stores will be open again. My sister lives in the United States and may not be allowed to cross the border to visit once the child is born. With government services being shut down or reduced, we don’t even know if birth certificates will be issued. Will anyone be allowed to visit once the baby arrives, or should we wait a minimum of 14 days after leaving the hospital? Even after 14 days, can I really ask our parents, who are seniors, to put themselves at risk? Or are they the ones putting me at risk? Will I be completely alone? Needless to say, my anxiety has been running high.

The silver lining is that the Glebe is an incredible community. I have a pregnant friend due around publication date (Congrats, Hilary?); she lives nearby and offered to share her parenting books and the supplies her newborn will outgrow before mine arrives. Both of us participate in the Glebe Buy Nothing Group on Facebook that has been supporting many new moms. If I did end up missing one critical item, I’m confident I could reach out and someone would help me. Someday, it will be my turn to help the next person after me. I belong to a number of online pregnancy and new mom groups where I can ask questions, like a virtual village back in Greece. Even if I feel alone when I haven’t been able to hug anyone but my husband, I’m not alone, and this too shall pass. I feel so lucky we both have jobs that let us work from home, we are paid and we are safe.

I know that is not the reality for others in the Glebe and beyond, and I would encourage anyone who can to offer help. It’s time for me to take a deep breath and be the best mom I can be. If any new moms or about-to-be new moms in the Glebe feel alone or overwhelmed, reach out to me! I’d love to be your physically distanced friend while we get through this together.

Alisenne Boxall is a Glebe resident who loves books and board games and is looking to make local mom friends.

Share this