Growing Life During a Pandemic

Tomorrow, I will be 34 weeks pregnant.

In 6ish weeks, I'll be bringing our second baby into this world - a world that is so very different and bizarre than the world that I brought my first born into. A world that is currently experiencing a pandemic that has brought "normal" life for most, to a halt.

Though a lot can change in 6 weeks, and I'm praying it will, with the issued recommendation of social isolation, life leading up to my child's arrival is just as unknown as what life will be like once she arrives.

My heart hurts for so many right now, for health professionals everywhere who are fighting right in the thick of this mess; for their families who are being completely quarantined from them, constantly worrying about their health as well as the health of those around them; for businesses everywhere, the employees, small locally owned shops, anyone who brings in an income, so many jobs lost or at least put on hold; for nonprofits and charities who solely rely on others to help them, help those, who are in need; for the elderly, who are confined and alone, hoping and praying that others will be wise for their sake; for parents, who have overnight become full-time work from home employees, while also carrying the weight of trying to meet expectations of being their child's parent AND teacher.

And though it seems trivial in retrospect to everything else going on, to all of those facing things that seem far worse than what we are going through, my heart hurts for expecting mothers.

For mother's carrying life inside them, wondering what they're going to be bringing their precious babes home to, worried about how they will possibly protect their new bundle of

joy from this pandemic that seems to surround them no matter where they go.

For the mothers who will be delivering their babies with only the help of their doctors - they won't be allowed to have the support of their spouse, their sister, their best friend, or even their own mother - their dreams of how they bring this baby into the world, crushed.

For the mothers who will hold their baby in their hospital room, alone, with just their husband. No family or friends there to welcome this new life with them.

For the mother's who won't get to celebrate this beautiful baby's arrival with a baby shower, the silly games, the creative presents, the sweet, encouraging words of wisdom, the home visits, surrounded by loved ones - feeling even more isolated than motherhood already makes you.

For the mother's who have other children, and will spend her hospital stay longing to have her other babies there to celebrate the arrival of their new sibling, but knowing it is wise to keep them out of a hospital or worse yet, being told she isn't even allowed the option, all other children are simply not allowed.

For the mother's who have just delivered and are wondering how they are even going to care for their baby, let alone the rest of their family, when wipes seem to be a luxury item, food seems to be flying off shelves and toilet paper is no where to be seen.

While we navigate this time of the unknown, just know that these feelings you're experiencing, the worries, the fear, even the sadness because you don't get to experience the normal, fun celebrations, and the guilt you feel BECAUSE you feel sad over those "trivial" things, all of those feelings, they are all valid. They are real.

And it is completely okay to feel those feelings, to be sad, to be worried, to think, "This isn't fair." Because, it's not. But, it is reality, and it is the cards we've been dealt with.

As a second time mother, my heart hurts for those who are experiencing pregnancy and birth for the first time.

Though I don't plan on having my mother in the room - this time, as she will be taking care of my other daughter, I can't imagine not having had her in my room the first time, and getting to experience bringing my own daughter into this world with her.

Though my family and friends wanted to still shower me with some gifts this time, being mostly taken care of due to lots of big sister's hand me down items, a baby shower wasn't something that was a must do on my list - this time. But as I looked back at pictures from my first born's showers, I'm reminded what special times those were to me as a first time mom.

To be robbed of so many special memories and moments, both serious and fun, to face so many worries and fears in addition to the life changing transition of becoming a mother - it's a lot to process.

So just know, you are seen. Your feelings are valid.

Let yourself feel those emotions, don't bottle them up, acknowledge them.

As much as it hurts though, I want to encourage you to not let these feelings - the fear, the sadness, the guilt - to rob you of this time with your babe. Whether it's your first baby or your fifth, this time is precious, it's unique, and it will never happen again.

Believe me, I'm preaching this to myself.

It is hard not to be overcome with bitter feelings, constant worry and a guilty sadness when everywhere we look, we either see gloomy news, or other mother's who have got to experience this part of their journey in all the ways we only wished. It's hard to not compare our past birth experiences to what we will be experiencing this time.

With each kick I feel, with each bout of tiny hiccups, the jabs in my side that leave me breathless, I'm reminding myself that there is a living, beautiful tiny human being growing inside of me. That this sweet, tiny baby will come into this world, whatever world it may be, not knowing anything that is going on, whether good or bad, all she will know is that I am her mother.

She will look up at me with bright eyes, unsure of this new environment she has entered. She will cry, that loud, newborn cry, and as I try to soothe her, she will snuggle into me as if she has known me forever, feeling safe in her mother's arms. She will wrap her tiny fingers around mine. I'll be captivated by her little features, amazed at how much she looks like my husband, wondering how something this precious and innocent could ever be ours.

And while I pray I can keep her safe, that I can keep her, as well as myself and the rest of my little family healthy, I also pray that I remember to hold everything in this life loosely, to not have clenched fists.

Because as tightly as I want to hold onto my daughter, my husband, and my soon to be newborn, I know that this earth is not my forever home, and these incredible people are not mine to keep, just as I am not theirs. Yet I have been given the greatest opportunity, to love them during their stay on this earth.

I'm thankful God has trusted me to be these two little girl's mother.

It is the scariest, most gut wrenching thing at times, yet the most wonderful, joyous experience to be able to love these little humans - never knowing when our Father will call us home, not knowing whether I or they will return home first from this earth - but for as long as I am given, I will love them - fiercely, deeply and without reserve.

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