Giving Birth During A Pandemic

It’s March 14th, Rach and I are celebrating our 11 year anniversary at home. We are self isolating because Covid-19 is quickly becoming a global pandemic. While we talk about how exciting and scary it is to be having a baby during this time, we take comfort in the fact that we have each other and at least we’ll be able to be together throughout the whole process.

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It’s March 25th, we’re coming home from our doctors appointment and we are quiet, sad and trying to figure out how we’re going to get through this. This was not how we imagined the birth of our first child would go. We had been informed that the hospital wasn’t allowing any visitors and only allowing me to stay for labour and I would have to leave two hours after the birth. On top of that, no one would be allowed to come over to see or help with Riley for the foreseeable future. Our doctor informed us that things would only get worse before they got better and the sooner we get this baby out, the better it would be for all of us. Rach was full term and was advised to be put on the induction list, so that’s what we did. 

We spent some time calling our parents and telling them the news, they consoled us while trying to hide their own pain and sadness. This is our first child and the first grandchild on Rachels side of the family. It was devastating for all of us to hear that the only way they could be a part of Rileys life right now would be through FaceTime or through a window. People kept reassuring us that being quarantined would be a blessing, getting to spend this uninterrupted time with Riley would be special. Everyone said it would be nice that we wouldn’t have to be constantly entertaining people and scheduling times for people to come over. The thing is, no one understands what it’s like to not have a choice. The fact that we can’t call someone over to help us if we need it is heartbreaking, but not as heartbreaking as having our friends and family come to the window to look at Riley. The feeling you get when you’re standing on the other side of the glass knowing you can’t open it is devastating. Watching our parents look through the glass at their grandchild, wanting nothing more than to hug us and the baby, tears welling up in their eyes, is almost unbearable. We are so grateful for everyone that has come to see us through the window, to everyone that has sent their love and support and to everyone who has reassured us that we are doing a good job and that they are proud of us. We are grateful for all the love in our lives and the people that have shown us that love during this time of indefinite isolation. 

It’s 10:45pm on March 26th 2020 and we get a call, it’s Sunnybrook Hospital and it’s our turn to come in and get induced. Baby Riley is on the way and despite all the uncertainty and fear that has ensued due to Covid-19, all we have is excitement in our hearts. We grabbed our bags (that we had packed weeks ago), made some sandwiches, hugged and kissed Mowgli and made our way excitedly to the hospital. In the car we talked and cried with joy, excitement and a little trepidation, we readied our gloves and masks and before we knew it we were at the front doors getting screened before entering the hospital.

 

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We walked through the main doors and were shocked at how empty the normally bustling hospital was. What was normally a sea of people was now an eerily empty building, we saw a total of maybe ten people, most of which were hospital staff. We made our way up to the maternity wing and were checked in and showed to our room where we could finally take off our masks and gloves. We breathed a sigh of relief and tried to take a minute to appreciate the situation before the nurse came in and began giving us the rundown and doing some tests. The initial tests were finished by 2am and the Pitocin was introduced to help start labour. By 2:30am contractions had started, it was dreamy and lovely, we knew this was the start of a new life and soon we would be holding our baby girl. We took pictures and videos, I rubbed Rachel’s back and snacked on pb&j sammies. Hours passed and the contractions got more intense, came more frequently and began to hurt more with each passing minute. A surprising amount of doctors switched out and came back in, which rattled me a little bit considering they were trying to limit the amount of people coming in and out of the room. Thankfully everyone that came in was super nice, helpful and in the end, made the experience that much more special. 

My beautiful wife, I’ve never been more amazed by her in my life, I’ve never thought she was as beautiful as in those moments during the contractions. It was so hard for me to watch her in pain, to sit there and not know what to do other than rub her back and tell her to breath. I wished our parents could be with us to offer support and tell us everything will be okay. Finally after 8 hours she opted for the epidural and after another hour they upped the dosage. It’s 11am now, we’ve been here for almost 12 hours and we both know that our lives are about to change forever. We managed to get a little bit of sleep while the epidural did its job. It’s 12:30am and Rach is now 10cm dilated, the doctor says it’s time to start pushing.

I have my iPad set up with Rachels dad and wife watching, and my phone set up with Rachels mom, husband and brothers, they are all cheering Rachel on while I hold her leg up during pushes and kiss her forehead while she’s resting. The baby’s shoulders are out and the doctor asks Rachel if she wants to pull the baby out, before she had finished the question, Rach had reached down and pulled Riley out. Riley Sky Meyer was born at 1:56pm on March 27th 2020 weighing 6pounds 13 ounces. They asked me to cut the umbilical chord and Rach enjoyed the first skin to skin with our daughter.

Those two hours passed by far too quickly, before I had even had a chance to hold her, the nurses were saying it was time to go. I took Riley into my arms, kissed her on the head and told her I’d be back to pick up her and mom tomorrow afternoon. I walked with Rach as far as they would let me and then went home for a much needed rest.

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I picked up Rachel and Riley from the hospital at 3:30pm on the 28th. We came home and I finally got to hold my daughter in my arms at home for the first time and I have never felt more lucky in my life. Rach and I hugged and teared up as the reality of the situation set in, we were alone with our baby and nobody was coming to help. We would need to help each other, to learn quickly and be supportive of each other now more than ever. We stayed on the couch watching tv and cuddling Riley until about 12:30 that night. We both knew this next little while would test us more than anything else in our lives but we have each other and now we have Riley and that makes everything okay. 

 

 

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