It was the best of times and it was the worst of times to have a baby.
For starters, I don’t want to be a pregnant healthcare worker in a pandemic again. No thank you.
We tried to induce Baby Girl early in November when the COVID was really hitting the fan here in the Midwest and we didn’t know if it would get worse. Didn’t matter, she didn’t budge. She ended up (as her older brother) needing a for-real induction a week after her due date. After the delivery, we struggled with a retained placenta so it seemed like the never-ending pregnancy - even though we had a baby, we still. weren’t. done.
There are definitely pros and cons to taking maternity leave during a pandemic. It has been so nice to keep my entire family at home for twelve weeks, although twelve weeks at home with a fussy baby and a three year old with minimal visitors has been trying at times. I am somewhat of a germ-a-phobe with small babies even in non-COVID times, so COVID gave us an easy out of crowded holiday family gatherings. It did get lonely. We made a grandparents-only visitation rule which worked out great until one side went south for the winter and the other actually came down with COVID so stayed away. I had to be intentional about Zooming everyone from college roommates to high school besties - and I definitely found some solidarity in their loneliness as well. It’s hard for everyone here as winter in the Midwest doesn’t really lend itself to outdoor socially distanced gatherings. My husband and I don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything by staying at home with our kids - because that’s what everyone else is doing too.
I will be ready to go back to work in the next couple weeks. I’m a little nervous about jumping back in at full speed with an extra little body to coordinate, but I’ve decided to “give myself grace” (a phrase I stole from one of my patients) and remind myself that it will be messy and it will still turn out OK. I got my second COVID vaccine which is reassuring. I did decide to vaccinate and continue breastfeeding which is consistent with AAP/ACOG/Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine guidelines. The doctor in me reviewed the evidence, weighed the risks and benefits, and made the decision to vaccinate. The mother in me called my mom immediately after my first vaccination to get reassurance I was doing the right thing.
This is how I know I did maternity leave right: I rewarded myself with a post-COVID vaccine haircut (10+ inches gone! Hello mom cut!). My hairstylist asked what I’ve gotten done during my maternity leave and I couldn’t think of a single thing outside of snuggles and legos. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.