The pandemic is basically ruining everything from work, school, and the holidays. According to several of my friends, it’s also dashing their dreams to keep or start adding to their families. Those hoping to add “just one more” child to their family or start their first parenting journey by birth, adoption, or fertility assistance are deciding to put those plans on hold—or give it up altogether. There is a myriad of reasons why having, creating, or adopting a baby just isn’t in the cards right now, but the main hurdle is the coronavirus.
There’s a lot of legitimate grief when you realize that your baby dreams are being postponed for an indefinite period of time. Perhaps this comes across as entitled, or at a minimum, whiny, but the reality is that COVID-19 has generated a lot of risk factors for those hoping to add to their families. I’ve read and heard many hopeful parents express their defeat, confusion, and disappointment. Here’s what they’re considering.
Newborns And Children Can Get COVID-19
First, yes, newborns can get the virus. The CDC states that “infections in neonates are uncommon.” However, the majority of those who are infected are asymptomatic or have “mild disease” that doesn’t call for respiratory interventions. Before you breath a sigh of relief, know that 10% of cases are seen in kids.
According to the Mayo Clinic, children with pre-existing conditions, including diabetes, asthma, congenital heart disease, nervous system conditions, and others are at risk of having more serious illness. Furthermore, Hispanic and Black children are more likely than white children to get COVID-19. Higher-risk children are also more likely to be hospitalized. This is a factor hopeful parents need to consider if they already have other children in their home.
If children have the virus, can they give it to adults? Harvard Medicine explains that an infected child’s “viral load” — that’s the amount of virus found in their upper respiratory tracts — was typically higher than an adult’s viral load. Note that this doesn’t mean the child has more severe symptoms. They concluded, “the presence of high viral loads in infected children does increase the concern that children, even those without symptoms, could readily spread the infection to others.”
A Pregnant Person Can Get COVID-19
Yes, pregnant people can get COVID-19, and according to the CDC, “are more likely to be hospitalized and are at increased risk for intensive care unit (ICU) admission and receipt of mechanical ventilation than non-pregnant people.” What about right after the baby’s birth? The CDC shared, “Current evidence suggests that the risk of a newborn getting COVID-19 from its mother is low, especially when she uses appropriate precautions before and during care of the newborn, such as wearing a mask and practicing hand hygiene.”
Medical Offices Are Limiting A Pregnant Person’s Support
Even if a pregnant person isn’t infected, hospitals have strict guidelines about who can be at the hospital before, during, and after delivery. Multiple stories have emerged where women discuss giving birth without their partner present and missing out on introducing the child to siblings in the hospital setting. There are also the precautions in place during all the pregnancy care appointments. My friend wasn’t able to have her husband with her at any ultrasounds, including when she found out the sex of her baby. Of course, there’s technology like video chatting, but she confessed it wasn’t the same and was frankly depressing to experience a moment they wanted to experience together, alone.
Fertility Assistance Has Been Compromised
If you’re overwhelmed reading this, I get it. A few of my friends haven’t been able to proceed with fertility treatments, including embryo implantation, because medical offices have spent months scrambling to navigate the pandemic. Meanwhile, they continue to pay the monthly fees to store their frozen embryos. One friend completely abandoned the clinic she’d been working with, fed up that they were constantly changing their policies. Another decided to proceed with trying to have a second child with the help of reproductive assistance, because unfortunately, there’s no pandemic end in sight.
Adoptions Have Been Compromised, Too
Then there are families like mine who were built by adoption. Many of our procedures have been put on hold or postponed, including home inspections, interviews, and training sessions—all of which are required in order to adopt. Hospital policies, which sometimes allow hopeful adoptive parents to be present with the mother and child with whom they’re matched with, have eliminated this possibility. Adoption finalizations, a legal and final step in the process, have been delayed by months for many families.
Baby Celebrations Are Risky
Having a baby shower, gender-reveal party, or post-birth meet-and-greet (even if it’s just the grandparents) can be incredibly risky right now. Multiple stories have told the heartbreaking truth: that gatherings can potentially expose many to the virus, sometimes having devastating results. Some hopeful parents understandably desire to have these experiences but realize it’s not worth the possibility of a loved one or themselves getting sick.
Finding Childcare Is Difficult
Then there’s the issue of childcare. Several friends scrambled for months, desperate to find someone to safely watch their children. Otherwise, the parents risked losing their jobs. Many can’t rely on grandparents like they used to since the virus risks for older populations is much higher and more serious. In fact, eight out of ten COVID-19 deaths are among those 65 and older.
No matter which route you’re trying to take to add to your family, there are risks and delays from the virus. While some hopeful parents have decided “now or never,” others are watching and waiting to see when and if they can proceed. As if parenting wasn’t hard enough, COVID-19 is making the journey to parenthood much more difficult.
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.