Friday, March 12, 2021

Parenting Through a Year of COVID

 It's been a year. 

I feel like this whole post could be just that one sentence, for all of us. 

A year ago, everything felt so uncertain. It felt like each of our next steps were like walking on a lake of thin ice, unsure where we would fall through. The world felt like it was falling apart faster than we could keep up, as we struggled to cling on to our sense of normalcy. A year ago, a business trip I was supposed to go on to Orlando, FL was cancelled at the last minute and I found myself unexpectedly staying at home instead. My job was uncertain in terms of if we would all start working from home or not. All of the stores, restaurants, everything began closing. We became worried as a family with big words like Quarantine being tossed around whenever, when was this supposed to start? We went to the warehouse clubs and bought a lot of food in bulk in these fears that we might be home to cook for a long, long time. What if society literally collapsed and this was the end of the world? Would we have to survive on what we have in this house right now? How will we survive? These crazy thoughts raced through our minds as I'm sure they did among millions of others around the world. But, what we thought was certain at the time was what everyone was saying would be a mandatory 2 week quarantine. Thats it. Lets just all stay at home for 2 weeks and then the world will be fixed. And here we are, one year later. Still quarantining...mostly. 

But thats not what this blog is about. You all already know that part, we've all lived it. What's unique about COVID is that we all have it in common. All countries, all continents, all races, all ethnicities, celebrities, citizens, non-citizens, doesn't matter. We are all affected in some way, no one is immune. COVID has leveled the playing field. In some areas more so than others. 

This post however is about how COVID has shaped our past year in my household with regards to parenting. Let's take another flashback to about Fall 2019- My husband and I were ready to start trying for a second child. We weren't actively tracking or anything, just casually trying. I went on a women's conference in January and that inspired me to start taking better care of my body after. I joined BeachBody in February 2020 and began losing weight. March 2020 rolls around, and now we're home more than we were before, I had more time to exercise and well, more time to try for a baby. We get a lot of jokes that this baby was a "Quarantinee baby" and maybe he is, but we also were actually trying to get pregnant prior. In fact, we decided together that if this cycle weren't successful that we would take a break because of how uncertain the world was, our financials, etc. But, come May 8th exactly, we found out that we had conceived around March 24th. Baby #2! 

However COVID had some serious plans on how this pregnancy was going to go, which was A LOT different from my first pregnancy. When I found out I was pregnant in May, there was not a single cell in my body that thought the pandemic would still be going on when I was due with the baby in January 2021. I didn't even think it was going to last into the SUMMER. But we took it one day at a time, with the rest of the world. And days became weeks, weeks became months. I began to realize as I entered into my second and third trimesters spent in quarantine, that literally none of my coworkers-not one- had even seen me pregnant. Only 3 friends had seen me pregnant, and very very few family members. Compared to my first pregnancy where coworkers would oodle over how big I was getting, family would want to feel baby kick, etc- this felt so much different. It barely even felt real. As I approached the end of my pregnancy in December 2020, I couldn't believe that I had basically had an entire pregnancy in quarantine. What did this mean for my delivery? I had previously felt sympathy for my friends who had delivered Spring- Summer 2020 delivering in COVID, and now here we were too. I couldn't believe it. 

The delivery was a lot different- I was only allowed to have my husband in the room the entire time, and he wasn't allowed to leave, even for food or to go to the car. We had to call security even to make an exception because our basement had a flood on Christmas Eve night and husband had to leave and come back to take us home Christmas Day. Crazy!! I also never thought I would be able to deliver a baby while wearing a mask- in fact I was dreading it- but when it came time to push, I barely even remember having the mask on. That was literally the least of my concerns! 

I'd say post partum has been one of the biggest differences in the 2 pregnancies thanks to COVID. With my first, friends and family were allowed to visit the hospital, and lots of friends and family came to visit us at home too once Abby was home. This time, only his grandparents and uncle had met him for pretty much his entire first two months of life. We don't know how much longer this will last, not being able to see family-- and part of me fears that no one will get to know my son until he's able to walk into the next family party. Everyone will miss these baby days and that is so sad. I try and compensate by taking lots of pictures and videos for my family to watch. 

 It also is so crazy that the last family gatherings we really had were for Christmas 2019. That means that my daughter Abby was *barely* even walking, and only saying a FEW words. Now she's practically a little adult and having full conversations! It is sad to me that our closest family and friends haven't been able to see her go through those exciting stages. It is sad that at the next family party one day, she will likely be shy in front of everyone because she won't remember them. I worry too how much COVID has changed who my daughter will become one day, and what she must think of the world, and how this has changed her permanently. In a world without COVID, she would have at least met other children at mommy & me classes, storytime sessions at the mall & library, music classes, etc., but for the past year, like so many other children, she's pretty much been raised with just my husband and I and her grandparents...and TV. In the time where it is so important to start socializing is when we were forced to completely stop. Now we are just starting to kind of come out of quarantine and she is very shy. We are doing a toddler gymnastics class and take her to the park on nice days, and when other children try and talk to her she kind of just stares at them or walks away. The only saving grace here is that most other kids her age will have been in the exact same boat. But what does that mean for her narrow generation of these kids from age 0-5 right now that are missing out on that core social development? How will that shape who they become in their personalities? Will they grow up thinking virtual school is normal? That talking to family on screens is normal? That its normal to stay in our house all the time? That its completely normal to wear masks? I often wonder when it is time to take our masks off, will our young children that have grown accustomed to it suddenly feel naked? Vulnerable? 

If you had told me last year in March that this was going to last until March 2021, I would never have believed you. And yet now who knows how much longer we have ahead of us even. Another year? Two? Three? I never thought our world could be so crippled by a virus, and I even come from healthcare. If you had described all this to me prior to last March, I woulda said you have a good idea for a plot to a movie. It's crazy how a lot of us mourn "the last fun thing" we did before we unexpectedly had to quarantine. Brian and I had a fun date night for Valentines 2020 before the shutdown. We also got to go to Florida in January 2020 and are so incredibly lucky and happy we did- despite not really having the finances for it- it was well worth it because that was our last vacation for a long, long time. It also feels so weird to me now to have a memory of being in an arena with thousands of other women. Anyone else think its weird seeing groups of people together in old TV shows or movies, commercials? 

COVID has also changed our resilience as parents, in good and bad ways... In good ways, its made us stronger in terms of staying home with our kids more, learning more about our kids, overcoming new challenges and learning from them, but also in bad ways. By that I mean that when the world returns to normal, frankly, we're going to be exhausted. Right now, after laying low and quarantining for a year, the thought of having jam packed weekends of birthdays, family parties, friends, and a week full of going to the office, restaurants, activities....sounds exhausting. Especially this time around with two children. When we had Abby we didn't know any different. Of course we were going to do all those things and bring her with us, thats what you do as people in this society. But frankly, with a newborn, its been kind of nice just staying home with him. Not having that pressure to go out and join the world is really been nice, as much as it is lonely. It's definitely a two-edged sword. 

Who knows what is in store for us as a family and for the world in the near future. After the year we all had in 2020, I think we've all become resistant to crazy and we are all just rolling with the punches. What life brings it will bring. If this last another year then so be it. 

I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy. I can't wait to start seeing you all again soon. 


The New Motherboard. 

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