Focusing on Certainty in an Uncertain Time

I found out I was pregnant again in September. I called the doctor the next day and requested I have a blood test.The results came back and the numbers were good. Pregnancy number 4 was underway. This is considered my 4th pregnancy because of the miscarriages.

I inquired about whether I should take progesterone again because I had taken it in the early stages of Lucy’s pregnancy. As I was told before, she said, “Well, taking progesterone hasn’t been proven to save a pregnancy. We don’t believe in administering it, but if it makes you feel better we will.”

I reminded the nurse that with my previous pregnancy my progesterone had dropped within a week, so I would prefer to take it. She again said, “We don’t believe it saves a pregnancy.” Well, in my case, I beg to differ.

A week after the first set of labs, the nurse ordered another set for comparison. Sure enough, my progesterone went down within that week. When the nurse called me to give me the second set of lab reports, she told me she would put the prescription in right away.

I began taking progesterone around week 6 and by my 12 week ultrasound I saw the tiny being and heard the heartbeat. Certainty washed over me like an ocean wave. I felt empowered that once again I took control of what I could in an uncertain situation and in turn I made certain that just like pregnancy number 3, I was doing what I could to make pregnancy number 4 start off strong.

The weeks and months began to pass. Being home with Lucy and being able to focus my energy on her has helped me be more positive. When I was pregnant with her, I felt on edge for months. I had a lot of time alone with my thoughts then. This time almost ALL of my thoughts are focused on Lucy. After she’s asleep, my brain relaxes and the other thoughts I have are nonsensical.

Lucy’s optimistic outlook on the world has rubbed off on and me and helped me have an easier pregnancy. I am more aware and confident that I am doing everything I can to maintain some level of certainty. I have a stronger sense of trust in my body that is absolutely integral through this process. Or it could be that my hormones are raging so much that they’ve messed with my head completely and I’m so high on the ability to make a baby that I’m convinced it’ll all be fine. Either way, this time was starting off a lot less scary….until February.

Valentine’s Day weekend I developed a deep cough. Over the next 48 hours I began to feel awful. Extreme fatigue, body aches, low grade fever, and nausea hit me all at once. I have never had the flu before, but I knew it had to be that. I convinced myself, that this would be the scary part of this pregnancy and I would overcome it. I was knowledgeable in the fact that the flu can cause various complications for a pregnant woman. Lucy also came down with a virus at the same time, but thankfully she tested negative for the flu. God bless Zach for living with us those couple weeks and God bless my mom for helping me out. Lucy and I were not happy girls.

On Monday February 17th, I went to the local urgent care to get checked out. Being the child of medical professionals, I tend to skip the whole “go to a doctor part” and simply tell my mom and dad my symptoms and they tell me what I have. My dad said, “I think you definitely have the flu. You need to start TamiFlu right away.” Because of the pregnancy, I wanted to be sure of what was going on. Sure enough, I tested positive for Influenza A and they prescribed TamiFlu immediately. Dad was right, as always.

When I was checking in at the desk, the receptionist asked me if I had traveled to China or anywhere outside the country or come in contact with anyone who had in the last 14 days. The answer of course was no. The farthest I had traveled in the previous few months was to the Target that’s 25 minutes away. I go to that one so Lucy can fall asleep in the car on the way home.

Next to the receptionist, was a sign posted about “coronavirus” and it listed the symptoms. My eyes widened as I noticed the symptoms were similar to what I had. I had heard something on the news about it and saw some recent tweets about it, but, I figured it was contained to China.

When I sat down in the waiting area, my thumbs raced across my phone screen to text Zach.

   Me: “There is a sign about coronavirus. I have the same symptoms! What if I have that?!”

   Zach: “You haven’t been to China have you? Did you go without me knowing?”

I sent some laughing emojis and texted him a picture of myself with a mask on. When I said I had flu symptoms, the receptionist told me to put on a mask. I told Zach I felt funny wearing it because there were a few other people in the waiting room staring at me because I was the only one wearing a mask.

Fast forward about a month. I was at an OB appointment wearing a mask and gloves. I was the only one in the waiting room wearing them. My dad had begun urging all of us to wear a mask and gloves to public places. Coronavirus was in America and it had been here longer than we realized.

The last few weeks of March felt like a year long. The fear and uncertainty that circulated through the news had everyone in a panic.

How was this going to affect my babies? Not much was known about how coronavirus would affect a pregnant woman and her fetus. Ah, there’s that extra uncertainty I had been waiting for. The experts started out saying a pregnant woman was at no greater risk. I had just gotten over the flu. Pregnant women are at a greater risk for complications when they get the flu, so how could they not be at greater risk when getting corona, a virus that was 10 times more deadly than the flu? Didn’t seem to make sense, so I assumed I was in the “at risk” category and began taking control of what I could. Thankfully, children don’t seem to get hit as hard as others, but I wasn’t about to take any risks with Lucy either. There has been more evidence coming out that pregnant women should be more cautious and there is evidence that some children do not fare so well from it. Better to be safe than sorry.

My family has been taking every precaution my dad and brothers have told us to. The CDC originally said healthy people didn’t need to wear masks, but we wore them. And now, in most places, you can’t step foot into a store without a mask on even if you are healthy. We wore masks everywhere before it was cool! Pandemic trendsetters.

As the hours and days have progressed, more information has become available, which has eased mine and Zach’s fears. Unfortunately, the misinformation that circulated rapidly from various powerful figures has made many people skeptical of the facts. It’s obvious to me that scientific research and facts should take precedence over some crazy person’s opinion, but I guess that’s not how it is anymore in this country. When a medical expert who has spent decades studying a particular topic speaks, I’m going to listen.

The confusion spread by the misinformation could be considered just as dangerous as the virus. My family is blessed to be associated with doctors and nurses who are on the frontlines caring for people with this virus and researching every day how it can be stopped. Even though it has been extraordinarily worrisome with my dad, 2 brothers, multiple cousins, aunts, extended family, and friends exposed to this vicious enemy on a daily basis, being on the inside track has afforded us a sense of certainty in this otherwise uncertain, unprecedented time in human history.

Thank you to all my loved ones who go out every day and have to pack your own fear aside to try and save those who are suffering and prevent others from falling ill. Really, thank you. You are on the right side of history.

Sadly, we don’t thank these people enough. We don’t thank people in any area of the service industry enough, until we are in dire straits and we need them to survive. Only then are we reminded of what they do for us every day and how our lives are made safer and more convenient by their personal sacrifice. There are various fields of work that have gotten the spotlight through this pandemic. Thank you to ALL of the “essential workers” and I am sorry I/we don’t thank you more often. It’s sad that it takes hard times to open our eyes to what truly matters, but it seems to be an eternal pattern for humanity. When will we learn to appreciate all people from all occupations and walks of life? What will it take for us to change the way we operate? They keep saying life as we knew it is over and the world will be forever changed. Is that really true? Will this current change in perspective be long lasting or is it just our initial shock reaction? Will we fall back into the same ungrateful patterns when we are through with this trial?

Being pregnant during this is terrifying. I became worried from the second I learned about this virus. A majority of the reports were saying it was going to get worse before it got better. A lot of the initial reactions I heard from various people weren’t ones of alarm. They didn’t have much of a reaction at all, except for complaining about things closing and not being allowed to gather in big groups. I can understand how it didn’t feel “real” for people who it wasn’t affecting directly. Like a lot of things in life, you don’t understand a situation until it happens to you or someone close to you. It took me some time to respect that. The challenge is opening up your mind enough to embrace that it may not be “real” for you, but it’s real as hell for a lot of people all over the world. It’s like the uncertainty with pregnancy. The picture that is painted in society is that pregnancy is common and sort of easy. I didn’t understand miscarriage or even worry about it as a reality until it happened to me.

I think the pandemic felt “real” for me right away because of my family and friends in medicine. When the news said the hospitals are filling up around the country, I had firsthand reports from local doctors and nurses that this was true. I had to go to the hospital for an ultrasound on March 18th. The entrance to the main hospital was closed off. There were a table of nurses in the parking garage asking questions. When I entered the hospital they took my temperature. The atmosphere was soaked in fear and uncertainty. The closer it hits to home, the more scary it gets.

I became overly anxious and combative with Zach the first few weeks of all the news updates. I kept telling him, “People don’t understand how scary this is! Why are there so many people not listening? You don’t understand how scary this is! We need to take every precaution and we need to tell our loved ones this is real. Why is nobody listening to me?!”

Of course he understood and still understands and he was listening closely as he always does. He also understood he had to hold it together for me. I feel badly that it has been his job to keep me in check, but he’s become used to that role. Having Lucy has been a Godsend for both of us. I can’t let myself spiral like I have in the past when faced with hardship. I don’t have the luxury anymore to lie down and cry and sleep it off. Zach and I have to present a united front for her. Even though she is young, she is so perceptive of our feelings. I think we have maintained a happy and safe environment for her. I would say she has no idea the outside world is in disarray. I make sure to save my panic stricken diatribes for after she is in bed. I am grateful she is only 18months old. Major props to all those families who have school aged children and have to explain this mess to them and home school them while you are simultaneously unsure and freaking out about the future. A round of applause for teachers who are still trying to reach their beloved students in any way they can. None of you have anything to go off of to begin to understand how to operate in this new world we have found ourselves in. Nevertheless, you all have hit the ground running and never cease to amaze me. Bravo.

In this scary time, knowledge is power. The more information we have learned has calmed me down and afforded me some certainty that even though the world just got a whole lot scarier, Zach and I will do whatever we can to ensure the safety of Lucy and our new baby. I have to accept the fear and uncertainty with this pregnancy is bigger than my immediate family. I have no choice but to do that. It’s not all about me! What a sad realization for someone who grew up as the only girl in her family.

Everyone is afraid together, which sort of makes me feel better. Sounds sad, but they do say, “misery loves company.” We are at least in a stable situation. Zach is able to do his work from home. He is receiving a stable paycheck and it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. I was already at home with Lucy which makes us used to being “stuck around the house.” It has been a slight adjustment for us. We did used to go out a few days a week to the park, to the house of one of her cousins, my mom’s house, or a friend’s house. I guess it’s more of an adjustment for me than her. She doesn’t mind spending every day with me and her toys and seeing her dad for a few minutes here and there when he takes a break. Zach is so easy going, it didn’t take him long to find his stride with working from home. I know he struggled with it, but he’s able to see the positives quicker than I am. We have plenty of food and he’s able to get out to the store every couple weeks to restock. There are so many families who are struggling financially and can’t provide meals for their children. I can’t begin to fathom what that must be like and I’m not going to pretend I do. So while we are technically “all in this together,” we are on vastly different levels of uncertainty. I respect that and try to understand it better to allow myself to be grateful for my situation even though I am scared.

A lot of people have put up a stink about the social distancing rules and my first reaction was, “Oh my God, they don’t get that this isn’t just about them! They could have the virus and not know it. This virus is so infectious that they could spread it to somebody who can’t handle it. Why can’t people see this is bigger than themselves?” Humans are social creatures. We crave being around others.

A majority of my family lives nearby, which enables me to drive by and say hi. My one brother and his kids live across the street. I wave to them almost every day. Many people do not have this luxury and are forced to be at home alone. This allows me to understand the general distaste for the new rules. But then again, the science of it all steps in and riles me up. These rules are in place to avoid the spread! They are not in place to take away anyone’s freedom or a political ploy. It’s to save lies. If we stop the spread, we get back to normal sooner. This virus is requiring everyone to think outside of themselves and that’s really hard to do. You could have it and not know it and be fine, but you could infect someone else and that person has a family who they could infect and those people could have compromised immune systems that can’t handle it. There are still so many “what ifs” that we need to continue to take precaution. After much reflection, I have allowed myself to get it now. I do get that some just can’t understand and maybe don’t want to understand. It can be easier to shut off the world and pretend like it’s not happening. I do that on occasion. Ultimately, all I can do is protect my family. I can help inform others and they can do what they want with that information. 

I hear others say, “oh, well when this all goes away in a couple months….” I understand trying to be optimistic, but sometimes you gotta be real. It’s not going away by the deadline the state’s set. It’s not going to “magically disappear” like some individuals claim. It’s going to be here a while. It’s going to ebb and flow and we have to adjust accordingly. This thing is telling us we need to slow down and we need to be careful. Hopefully, there will be better and safer interventions in place sooner than anticipated, but it’s bigger than all of us. It is an invisible enemy and our best defense right now is staying put to avoid its wrath while the experts do their job. It’s not easy. It really is not easy, but it’s essential. The way this virus has been politicized is disgraceful and inhuman and it has distorted the reality of it all.

A major positive in this is we relearn how to “be still.” We can relearn how to live without the constant rat race we are accustomed to. I know a lot of people that like to constantly be moving or want to be traveling or have every weekend lined up with events and now they are forced to live in a completely different fashion. I get it. We are usually busy too. There’s always a party to go to or a family dinner to attend. We’ve had to adjust to a slower agenda. That’s life though. You expect your routine to continue and be able to do whatever you want whenever you want, but things can drastically change in a second and you have no choice but to adapt. We’ve been spending more time in our own yard. We sat on our driveway in chairs the other day and ate lunch while Lucy napped. It’s been different, but it has also been peaceful and refreshing. We can relearn to be grateful to be alive. There are so many perishing from this virus. So many families are being destroyed. Death was happening every day all over the world even before this outbreak, but having it surge through our own country is a wake up call. It’s a slap in the face. HEY, life is fragile, shape up and appreciate it.

It’s inspiring to see on the news that people are picking up old hobbies such as playing an instrument, baking, making funny videos with their families, or simply reconnecting with their partner through conversation. Parents have to come up with more activities within the house or their yards, so it’s helping families become more creative with their children. My mom told me the other day she’s been enjoying her time with my dad. He isn’t going to the office as much, various grandchildren aren’t parading around their house every day (as much as they love that, they needed a break). They are finally spending time alone. Zach and I are getting to spend more time alone with Lucy with no interruptions. Life is going to change drastically for her in a few weeks. This time we have alone with her is precious.

It’s interesting talking to people outside of our homes during this time and it’s not just because that it’s mostly on the phone, video chat, through a car window, or at least 6 feet away on a sidewalk. I am finding there has been an air of awkwardness in conversations that would otherwise be easy. There are many silences where in normal times there would be so much talking I didn’t know if I breathed or not. It is harder to try and figure out what to talk about. There isn’t much in the news other than virus news. Nobody is able to go to new restaurants, concerts, or anything public. There are no sports on. We all have corona weighing on our minds, but you don’t want to be the person to bring it up and drag the other person down. It’s like everyone is avoiding talking about the elephant in the room. You have to be creative and focus on positive things and find new hobbies to talk about or talk about the show you binge watched. But there only so many shows you can talk about before reality weighs in. I find myself thinking the whole time I’m talking to someone, “so how about that pandemic that’s throwing our world into absolute chaos?” The longer we live like this, the easier the conversations have gotten. But those initial few weeks, it was tough not to want to express all of my fears to everyone.

I think the thing I miss most through this social distancing era are hugs. I miss picking up my nieces and nephews and tickling them or tossing them around like they have come to expect Zach and I to do. I miss my mom’s hugs the most. I am really missing getting to spend time with her in person with Lucy as we prep for this new baby. I miss our lunch dates and occasional dinners at her house. I’ve realized how fortunate I have been to have her to lean on. Of course, I can still call her, FaceTime her, and drive by to see her. I am still spoiled. But I really am craving a “mom hug.” She gives the best hugs. Her hugs fill you with a sense of calm and comfort that leaves you believing everything is okay. I have to hold it together until the day I can get that mom hug without worrying I am going to pass a contagious virus to her or vice versa. I am grateful though that I get to give mom hugs to Lucy and I’ll get to give a mom hug to this new baby soon. I feel like I have been hugging Lucy more often than ever.

I am bummed my mom won’t be able to be in the delivery room with us this time. It was such a special experience for us when she saw Lucy be born. We can’t have anyone in the waiting room either. When Lucy was born, the waiting room was packed for us. While I am disappointed it is going to be way different, I am beyond grateful I will be able to have Zach with me. I have no idea how some women have given birth without their support person. I don’t think I could get through that without Zach. When I had Lucy, he stood up by my left ear and held my hand. There were times when I was pushing and the only thing I could hear was his voice. I am grateful to have a few more weeks to go. What pregnant woman says they are grateful to have more time being pregnant? A woman pregnant during a pandemic, that’s who.

I had said to Zach in the beginning of this pregnancy, “Man, I hope this birth isn’t as scary as Lucy’s was.” Thanks, corona.

At least with Lucy’s birth, I was able to connect with others who had babies have the same thing happen to them. The last time there was a pandemic was over 100 years ago. I don’t personally know anyone that was pregnant and delivering during the Spanish flu! God bless them, though. At least we have advanced maternal care in place in these times.

I am delivering at Lankenau again and so far they have good precautions in place. I have heard through the grapevine of a few women who have delivered there recently and it’s all been good reviews. Sounds like if your birth is uncomplicated they get you in and out pretty quickly. I’m glad this is my second baby and hopefully I can pop this one out quick. My heart is heavy for those first time moms. First time delivery is scary enough without doing it during a pandemic. Chances are, I hope, the closer I get to delivery the more knowledgeable the staff will be and the better the conditions at the hospital will be.

So, amidst the worldwide uncertainty, what certainties can I rely on going into this delivery? I have the love and never-ending support of my husband and our extended families. I have reliable doctors and nurses who will guide me through as my new baby enters the world. I have my healthy baby girl who will be waiting anxiously at home for her new sibling. I have a team of medical experts that I am closely related to that I can call on at any moment if I run into any issues at home. I am doing my best and will continue to do my best to provide for my family a safe, happy environment in which to dwell until the outside world is safe again. Life will continue as it always does. Of all that, I can be certain.

1 Comments on “Focusing on Certainty in an Uncertain Time”

  1. Thank you Kate. This is as usual, carefully crafted and beautifully written. You seem to be wise beyond your years. I love you. 😍❤️
    Clare

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