Around my 37th week of pregnancy, my cell phone started ringing, chiming, and buzzing nonstop.
Everyone from family, to friends, to sorority sisters I hadn’t seen since college graduation wanted a baby update.
“How are you doing, Mama?” they’d say, “how are you feeeeeling?”
I’d type back a quick “Feeling good, still pregnant LOL” or force a smile over Facetime before saying that I was “Doing fine, just extra tired.”
I knew all these calls and messages were coming from a good place—but I hated them.
The truth was, ‘how I was feeling’ was a bit of a sore subject.
Back in March, I was just starting my second trimester when coronavirus hit New York City.
I had no idea what effect the virus could have on pregnancy, so every day I worried about getting sick. I was terrified to take my trash out in the hall, was barely able to go down to the lobby and pick up my grocery deliveries, and was even afraid to open my apartment windows.
With only a tiny bump, I hardly looked pregnant. Still, I was already so in love with this baby that I didn’t want to take any risks.
So, instead of celebrating my pregnancy with a babymoon or a baby shower like I’d planned, instead of hitting the department stores for adorable baby clothes, my husband and I spent our time strictly quarantined in our apartment.
Stuck inside, feeling anxious, I filled my days Googling for new research about pregnancy and coronavirus.
I watched the news a lot and checked the local infection numbers more often than I checked the time. Months passed, and while cases in New York eventually dropped, I was still nervous.
By my last weeks of pregnancy, I knew that I should have been relieved to know that the wait was almost over, that I’d gotten almost all the way through the 40 weeks without getting sick.
But as birth inched closer, my anxiety shifted to sadness.
I was sad that I hadn’t gotten to experience pregnancy as I’d expected.
Not only did I miss out on the babymoon the baby shower, the shopping trips to baby stores, and everything else I’d expected to come with my first pregnancy, but I’d also spent six months worrying.
Social distancing may have made me miss out on some of the exciting parts of pregnancy, but my own anxieties made me miss out on so much of the joy.
So, in those last weeks of pregnancy, when I got flooded with those calls and texts and Facebook messages asking for baby updates, I didn’t know how to respond.
I didn’t want to admit that I was anxious, that I was angry at myself for being anxious, or that I felt like I’d missed out on what was supposed to be such a happy time in my life.
But I also didn’t want to lie, either.
I decided that I would simply say that I was feeling fine and good, because I knew I should be.
For 40 weeks, I’ve had a healthy pregnancy. I’d been a little swollen, had some heartburn, and had some food aversions, but all in all, things had been good.
When the baby finally came, a couple days late but perfectly healthy, the texts and calls kept coming in.
Friends and family wanted to know how I was feeling and how the baby was doing.
I thought these texts would still bother me, but this time I didn’t mind as much.
Maybe the change in my hormones finally helped me relax a little.
Or maybe I was simply more comfortable, and more confidant, once I had a healthy baby in my arms.
Either way, I was suddenly so proud to tell everyone that the baby and I were both healthy and doing great. I couldn’t wait to send photos, to brag about the baby, and to share details of the birth.
Looking back on those months and months of worry, I realized that I probably should have sought out help from a therapist.
Maybe it would have helped me to have an easier pregnancy. And who knows, perhaps it’s not too late.
Maybe finding someone to talk to, even now, will help in the months ahead. After all, coronavirus numbers are still up, and I’ll have to learn to handle the stress of keeping a baby safe as the virus rages on.
Still, that day in the hospital, felt I could finally celebrate the pregnancy, and the baby, all at once. I was overjoyed and relieved, and for the first time in a long time, I truly felt so, so good.