The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away countless things from our world; since the world went into lockdown around March 2020, people have lost school field trips, weddings, in-person classes, anniversary trips, birthday parties, family reunions, holidays, and, of course, life itself.
But there is no situation without hope. In the midst of loss, there is much to gain: appreciation of what you have, time to grow and understand yourself, and, again, life itself.
Meredith Hulsey enjoyed her family of three with her husband Bobby and their dog Fisher until February 2020, when they found out that they were expecting their first baby. Soon after their joy came the onslaught of the pandemic, and they were plunged into uncertainty.
“The unknowns of the virus made us nervous to really get out and do things,” said Hulsey.
Abigail Poundstone and her husband Jack welcomed their son in January 2021 after pregnancy in the midst of the pandemic. She had an interesting perspective, as she was a nurse on a COVID unit when she found out she was pregnant.
“When I found out I was pregnant, we were very much still in the beginnings of learning how to take care of these patients,” Poundstone explained. “So it definitely added a stressor, because I wanted to protect myself and my baby as much as I could and we didn’t know at the time and obviously still don’t know how it could actually affect the baby or the mom.”
“I think COVID also added just a level of [difficulty] because pregnancy is something you want to celebrate and enjoy, and we usually do that with others.” she continued. “So having showers and being with family and friends… It even took us a while to be able to tell our parents in person because neither of our parents are in Birmingham, so we hadn’t been seeing them.”
Hulsey also struggled with the limitations placed on mothers during the pandemic. Her son Thomas was born in October 2020, and in addition to wearing a mask during labor, she was only allowed to have her husband in the room.
“We both had to wear masks — laboring in a mask isn’t for the faint of heart! — and upon being admitted for labor I had to get a COVID test to make sure they could put us in the right area for delivery,” Husley explained. “We were not allowed any visitors so our parents, first time grandparents on both sides, anxiously awaited in the parking lot so we could share from the window the sex of our baby and name.”
By January of 2021, limitations had slightly eased up, and Poundstone was able to remove her mask during labor.
“I had him in January, so I was pregnant for most of the pandemic, and then as things have started to get hopefully a little bit better, I’ve felt like the Labor and Delivery unit definitely knew what they were doing,” she said. “They were used to taking care of patients with the COVID precautions.”
However, both mothers faced the setbacks of having pandemic babies when they came home from the hospital.
“I have never been one to really worry or be weary of health things, but with all of the unknowns of COVID, we were very cautious,” Hulsey explained. “Our immediate families both got COVID tests before they met our son and wore masks at all times over those first couple months.”
By the time Poundstone’s son Rives was born, COVID restrictions had lightened up, but they then faced more than just the coronavirus — this was prime time for colds, flu, and other easily passable infections.
“There were a couple of circumstances where I didn’t attend something just because I didn’t want to come home and expose him,” said Pountstone. “It was very very difficult for me, especially being home with a baby and wanting to spend time with my family and friends, but we tried our best to take the precautions that we could.”
Like all hardships, there is always a silver lining, and both Poundstone and Hulsey found unexpected joy in having a baby during a pandemic.
“We were not able to have any visitors in the hospital, so it was just me and my husband, and that honestly was the best thing for us,” said Poundstone. “The bonding with our baby gave us the time to experience everything on our own and not have to take that time with other people to talk and, I think I really felt like all that time was so geared towards Rives and not towards anyone else.”
“That was extremely helpful with learning how to breastfeed and just bonding with (Rives),” she continued. “Jack and I, we didn’t have to share him with anyone or share our time with anyone, and as extroverted as we both are, it was amazing to be forced to be by ourselves and get used to this huge life change.”
Similarly, Hulsey enjoyed the way the pandemic forced her family to slow down.
“I am so thankful for all those months before and after the birth to be able to stay home and grow together as a family,” said Hulsey.
During times like these, it can be the easier choice to focus on the negative. But all around us, people are getting married, finding new jobs, focusing on their health, and bringing new life into our world, proving that even in dark times, there is always a reason to celebrate.