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I Didn’t Plan To Have A Baby Just Before The World Began Collapsing

What I've learned about raising a newborn in a pandemic

I’m a planner. I keep calendars, and I make to-do lists, and I prep ahead for worst-case scenarios. This planning comes from a place of control- it comes from me thinking I have some kind of illusion over my future.

Like almost everything I do, I planned for my son. I began tracking my ovulation, and I fell pregnant quickly. I was overjoyed, and I was scared, and I was able to start planning even more.

Planning for a baby is both overwhelming and fun. We agonized over strollers and funny onesies (click here for some of my favorites) and cribs. We made and edited (and edited and edited) the baby registry. We spent hours discussing baby names. Over nightly walks, we envisioned what our new family would look like.

The idea of motherhood excited me as much as it terrified me. I’d always prided myself on my fierce independence, on my many non-kid-friendly passions and adult relationships. I worried how my new identity would impact my career, how it would change the way I spent my free time.

Our son was born on an unseasonably warm afternoon in November. As we held him and loved him and took in that intoxicating newborn scent, I remember thinking that we were going to figure this all out. That, no matter what it took, I was going to keep my little one safe.

COVID-19 With A 4-Month Old

I started feeling anxious about COVID-19 at the end of February before the crisis hit America. I told my husband “something bad could happen.” I suggested we start stocking a few essentials in the house. At the time, we were in the middle of planning a move.

Neither of us could really prepare for what happened next. And that’s the crux of it. Who prepares for something like this? There’s a reason the media keeps using the word, unprecedented. None of us knew the world would shut down.

It’s now the end of June. The virus is spreading, and it’s spreading fast. We’ve just hit 500,000 deaths worldwide, although researchers postulate this number is likely higher.

My baby will be eight months next week. He can almost crawl. He likes babbling loudly. He finally sleeps through the night. He loves bananas and cherries and cheese and chicken. Peekaboo always guarantees loud giggles. He adores our dogs. His favorite place to be in his carrier, strapped to my chest, taking a long walk.

He learns new skills every single day. I’m watching his entire personality develop. It’s one of the most beautiful transformations I know I’ll ever see.

He doesn’t know what’s happening in the world. He hasn’t been able to see much of his family, but he doesn’t know. It’s a bittersweet paradox- knowing that he’s so precious and so innocent and also knowing that he’s being raised in such uncertain and frightening times.

I wonder what he’ll ask me one day. I wonder what I’ll tell him.

Control Is Always An Illusion

It was never mine. Not really, anyway. Control is a just false promise often sold to us by advertisements and other gimmicks. Who knew that 2020, the year that sounded so futuristic, would be a year full of travesty?

And yet, he doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s my reprieve in the fear, the sunshine when things feel dark and hopeless. And for that reason, 2020 will always bring mixed feelings.

t’s the year just after I become a mother, and the year the world felt like it was about to fall apart.

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