Pregnant During the Pandemic: Embracing the Grief with the Good

Friend of Nyssa, Caitlin Benedetti, shares her experience of being pregnant during Covid-19. The Cincinnati-based project manager is expecting her first child in June. Here she shares her perspective and strategies to overcome fear and disappointment and maintain a positive outlook. 

"I’m ok. I’m not ok. This doesn’t seem real. Maybe if I don’t think about it, I can shake this sadness...

If I’m honest, these thoughts have found their way into my inner monologue on numerous occasions. This constant conflict between allowing myself to feel sad, but also trying to cheer myself up. A month ago, my mind was filled with the normal concerns of a first-time mom anticipating birth. Then we all became aware of COVID-19, and I realized the remaining weeks of my pregnancy would be far from normal.

This is my new normal. Most people get a different “normal” filled with baby showers, celebrations, pregnancy photos shoots, and loved ones getting to see their growing belly form. However, everyone is experiencing a new normal. Everyone is trying to cope. And while we may be putting on a brave face for our loved ones, I’ve found comfort in momentarily embracing grief (inspired by HBR’s most recent article titled “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief.”)

As a self-proclaimed outgoing enneagram 7, I have a tendency to skip over my grief to get to whatever positivity I can squeeze out of a situation. However, part of my personal growth journey is allowing myself to embrace those emotions while also balancing them with some reality testing. Mama, if you’re anything like me, you’ve had a few mental roadblocks in processing all of your emotions. Below are few of my own. My hope through this little rant of mine is that you feel encouraged through seeing a situation for what it really is, rather than what we hope or fear it might be. Grief is normal, but fear can paralyze.

My personal roadblocks:

Celebrations are canceled.

Emotion: I can’t celebrate. All of my baby showers have been canceled and I can’t see friends and family.

Reality: Celebrating isn’t an event, it’s a daily rhythm you create with your partner.  It’s recognizing the amazing gift you’ve been given and taking notice of that. Also, through technology, you can throw a virtual shower or FaceTime friends you’re growing belly. Get creative!

 

I’m uneducated. I’m unprepared. Help!

Emotion: I’m afraid. I don’t know what I don’t know. All of my hospital classes are getting canceled.

Reality: There are amazing online resources out there, mama. You can get to a point where you feel fully equipped to carry out your birth plan.

 

Did this even happen if no one is there to witness it?

Emotion: It will seem like this didn’t even happen because I have to separate myself from friends and family.

Reality: Tell your support system what you need. Ask your friends to stop by and say hello from the driveway (at a safe 6 feet distance, of course). Also, you can take all the photos you want. No, they may not be professional quality, but you’ll have something!

 

To all of my first-time mamas, I see you. I’m equally saddened for you. However, this time calls for celebration despite our circumstances. Things are different, yes. However, I hope you find encouragement through the amazing network of parenthood and with a little intentionality and creativity, you can still experience, celebrate, and capture these special moments.  And if from time to time, you have a “sad” moment – embrace it. Don’t try to hide it. When is life ever not a mix of the broken and the beautiful?"