Tomorrow, I’ll be one week quarantined, and eighteen weeks pregnant. To illustrate my state of mind, I’ll admit that I knew the first, but not the second number off the top of my head.
During my first pregnancy, I knew not only the number of weeks and days pregnant I was, but also how long, top to tail, the baby was, which sense they were developing at the time, my risk in percentages of miscarriage, and what symptoms might be around the corner.
Second time around, I’ll admit things were already looking different, with an angsty toddler running the show, but I was glowing – within, if not without – with the excitement of the pregnancy, dreaming of life in three years, when we’d hopefully have two little chatterboxes sharing our adventures, asking us ridiculous questions about the world, and giggling madly.
Felix and I spent many, many hours agonising over the decision of whether we’d have another child. Do we want to bring another person into this already overpopulated, rapidly heating, terrifying world? On balance, we figured, we’d never choose to not have been born, even on the bad days (it’s been awhile since high school), and, when I experienced a sudden rush of insane hormones with the end of my breastfeeding journey, we decided, “frog it” (Elsie’s starting to pick up words, so) and got to work on number two and final.
Now, things are looking different.
The joy isn’t totally gone, but it’s diluted by fear, doubt, guilt and anxiety.
I was already less stressed about the pregnancy, this time around, barely remembering to check the toilet paper for blood during the first trimester, enjoying being bump-free and relatively indifferent to the thought of feeling kicks. I guess that’s how it is the second time around, and I’m not complaining. The lack of fear was a breath of fresh air.
Now, I guiltily repress the feelings of hope that attack me when I feel a twinge of pain in my abdomen. I find myself wondering if a miscarriage wouldn’t be better for everybody involved, especially this poor future child who will be born into a global pandemic. Every time I feel a flutter, I remember the excitement, and silently apologise for my intrusive thoughts, and for conceiving it in the first place. This, over and over again, daily.
The regular feelings of vulnerability a pregnant woman feels and highly irregular feelings of vulnerability every person feels in a pandemic are heightened and mashed together. I feel grateful that, unlike a friend, I’m not due in a couple of weeks, but rather in August, when there’s a chance this will have calmed down.
First, came the decision that Felix wouldn’t be allowed to come to our anatomy scan. Then news that no visitors could come to the hospital at the birth. Then that the other parent couldn’t come to the recovery ward. And the new restrictions keep coming.
Since we will be living with an elderly relative in the countryside, I’m giving up my anatomy scan altogether. I have to choose one or the other, and her safety and that of myself, my family, and this unborn child come above finding out the gender. I hope that was all we were going to find out, but it’s all just going to have to wait, now. I don’t expect I’ll attend any more appointments. I hope I’m lucky enough not to need them.
My parents are very likely unable to come and support us in August, since that’s Australia’s expected epidemic peak, so that’s another comfort I’d previously taken for granted almost certainly gone.
Uncertainty is plaguing everyone, in every country, every day. For me, it comes in the form of wondering if hospitals will be safe enough to give birth in, will there be enough staff, do I need to look into homebirthing, will that even be allowed, and the list goes on.
But, as I deliberately remind myself every day, I’m incredibly lucky in so many ways. To have an oasis in the country to escape to and quarantine in. To work for myself, in an industry that – so far – hasn’t been disrupted. To have savings. For my health and that of my family. To have at least a few friends and family members taking this as seriously as we are. To have a week of quarantine behind us. For our healthy sourdough starter and foolproof bread recipe.
Our pokey apartment, tax headaches and feelings of isolation due to having a toddler (HAHA!) feel a whole lot less important. Perspective has fallen like a ton of bricks, and I think it will remain for some time.
I hope we all come out of this okay. I hope it’s quick – but not too quick. I hope the world learns from this and that we replace the shitstorm that is capitalism with something that isn’t destroying all of us when the dust settles on our abandoned emergency pandemic tents.
I hope there’s space and safety for myself and my fellow pregnant pandemic participants to birth our babies and recover from it.
Because we’ve got curves that aren’t getting any flatter