AWMoms: A Good Story – Birth During a Global Pandemic

Through the darkness of the pandemic, the idea of someday being able to tell our little boy, Wyatt, about the magic of his arrival is a thought that shines through. My parents still tell me their story around my adoption and when they took me home. It’s a reminder for us to share in happy moments, that although we can’t control what happens, we can control our narrative. Our story of Wyatt’s arrival is about new beginnings — a warming sliver of sun through some especially menacing clouds.

My husband and I were living in New York City late last summer when we found out we were expecting our first baby. Looking around our small apartment, we knew it would be the end of our time on the corner of 14th and 2nd. We had no dishwasher and, while we loved New York, the constant sirens and the noisy bus stop below our paper-thin windows helped us decide it was time to let go of our rent-controlled abode and prepare for the next chapter of our life.

So, months later, we found ourselves saying good-bye to our home for the last 14 years, and on our way to a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, where I grew up. Lucky for me, the global experience agency, Huge, where I had recently accepted a position as Head of Communications, has an office nearby.

During the weeks and months leading up to Wyatt’s birth, I experienced all the things I’d only heard about from frazzled friends. The sleepless nights, the excitement, the endless self-doubt. Do we have everything set up? Did I tie up everything at the agency? Is the house clean enough?

I created my transition plan. My home was in order. My post-pregnancy schedule was in place. To the best of my ability, I was ready for Wyatt’s arrival. After nine months, I finally felt prepared for what would come next. But of course, nothing could have prepared me for what was about to happen.

On March 10, the coronavirus exploded in Michigan. On March 11, I went to Beaumont Hospital to deliver Wyatt.

During our five days in the hospital, we were aware that COVID 19 was ramping up, but the magnitude of the epidemic wasn’t apparent to us. To us, the seriousness of it was still a bit unknown as we concentrated on Wyatt’s needs.

My parents and closest friends were allowed to join us for Wyatt’s birth on day one at the hospital. On day two, they were allowed to visit us only one person at a time. On day three, no one was allowed to see us. As the week unfolded, I was grateful that the hospital’s Mother-Baby Unit allowed me to have my support partner with me. Patients in all other units of the hospital were alone.

The nurses mostly shielded us from the news, providing minor updates about the lines at the grocery store. One gave us toilet paper to take home. Eventually, they told us that the hospital was preparing for the crisis downstairs with tables for check-in at the front doors and shelters for testing outside. We started to catch on. The TV in our room provided the missing pieces.

On day four, the hospital discharged me but Wyatt had to stay one more night. The nurses, the true angels in all of this, allowed my husband and me to stay in our room with our new baby until he was discharged to go home the next day.

I ran out of pain medicine for my c-section and, if my husband were to leave the building to fill my prescription, he wouldn’t be allowed back in. We had to make small choices like this one throughout our stay, but nothing compared to the choices that pregnant women are facing for their labor now, as we hit the peak of the pandemic.

On the fifth day, we left the hospital with our new baby boy. As we drove home and prepared to quarantine, my husband and I emerged as the strongest version of ourselves, an unstoppable team.

I am so grateful that Wyatt came into the world one week early and that we were able to leave the hospital in time for the workers to help sick patients.

I am so thankful that I have such a supportive partner and that he can be home with us every day.

I appreciate that my Dad and Mom are in self-quarantine just down the street from us. I’m glad that my brother is strong, smart and healthy in Seattle and I’m happy that my husband’s family is safe in Australia and that they’re all close together. I’m thankful for the technology that allows all of us to communicate with each other and share lots of photos of Wyatt.

I know that those who haven’t met Wyatt yet will meet him once we defeat COVID 19 – which I know we will.

I am in awe of our industry, partnering with brands to raise awareness and using the power of storytelling and creativity for good.

I am hopeful that this time allows our planet to heal and that the crisis will help us to remember the things that really matter – things like love, compassion, nature, connection, patience, courage, HEALTH.

When I was asked to write this column as the New Mom on Advertising Week’s Mom committee, I planned on writing a much different version of it. I was thinking of writing my version of things to know, things that might surprise a first-timer, some personal new mom tips. Maybe I still will.

Now, as I write the story of Wyatt’s birth, with my healthy milk-drunk baby sleeping in my arms, I realize that while expectant mothers can plan for most things, some things you simply can’t anticipate.

And when the unexpected happens, and in the weeks ahead we can all expect more and more of the unexpected, the best I can do is be grateful for my support system and all the other mothers who helped along the way.

When my mind starts to worry or I feel sadness around all of the loss, I log off from news and social media and look at my new baby. I am grateful again.