I had our first child, a son, two weeks before the world shut down. I did not know the term “pandemic baby” or “COVID” when we were pregnant. Our families visited us in the hospital and stayed for a few days afterward. Then, they were gone. We were new parents with no physical support system. It was two and a half months before we saw someone again from our family. Navigating the postpartum period alone for the first time was difficult. I did not have easy access to family, friends, doctors, or lactation consultants. Google and social media accounts became my primary sources of information.
The blessing in disguise was my husband working from home. Our only option was to lean on each other, which strengthened our marriage. We decided to keep our son out of daycare until he was one year old. He is the typical pandemic baby that lived his life in a bubble for much of that first year.
We took a trip to Florida for his first birthday and started the conversations about baby number two. It took 19 months and fertility treatment to conceive our son, so we had that to consider when discussing expanding our family. Even though we were still in a pandemic, we felt we might not have the time to continue to wait. To our surprise, we got pregnant that month on our own. That pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, but it reinforced our want for baby number two.
Fast forward to June 2022, and she is here. Our second pandemic baby. This time around, everything feels different. Our family and friends have been present, and there is no quarantine. We have our village. Our newborn was at the zoo within two weeks of her birthday and traveling within four weeks. It feels like a new experience.
The most significant change for me has been the breastfeeding journey. With my son, I was home full time. We were not seeing anyone. I never needed to nurse him in front of others or public. When we started seeing people again, I was already back to work, so I was mostly pumping and bottle feeding him. I quickly needed to get comfortable nursing her in front of others this time. I am writing this article about eight weeks into her life, and I have nursed her in public a couple of times as well. That has been a bigger uphill challenge than I expect simply because of my own comfort level. Also, the lack of cute, functional, and affordable nursing-friendly clothing is shocking! I have tried many different companies and usually return most of what I ordered. If you have brands you love, please drop them in the comments for fellow mamas. I know I will need to travel when I return to work. It will be another challenge for me to figure out how to pump and store breastmilk while traveling. I upgraded to a portal pump and did more research to improve my ability to pump outside the house. This is one challenge at the moment, and it is unknown what challenges we will face in the future.
I have ongoing concerns about the effect of the pandemic on my children. Even though we are constantly sick from daycare, I can see the positive impact of social interaction for our son. A recent study published suggests lower gross motor, fine motor, and social-emotional development scores in babies born during the pandemic. We will listen to the experts but also follow the lead of our children. We do not want to become obsessed with milestone checklists and fall into the comparison trap. There is already enough of that between social media and other families.
Given the challenges so many have faced during the pandemic and our challenges with fertility, we feel fortunate and blessed to have our second pandemic baby. Seeing our children every day is the biggest joy of our lives. Welcome, baby girl.