I had my last baby in early January. When I first laid eyes on her, I knew she was the last piece of our family puzzle. We were complete. I was totally sure that 2020 was going to be the best year of our lives as we got to know our last teammate.
We spent the first couple months mostly at home. I was recovering from my third c-section, it was flu season, and it was freezing outside. We ventured out here and there, grabbing a meal or running an errand, but for most of January and February, we stayed in with our new bundle.
Finally, in early March, I felt confident enough to venture out alone. I took my kids to the doctor by myself. One morning, I felt especially motivated, and I took all three to the zoo by myself. It was magical. We had the best day. I felt like mom of the year. I was killin’ it. We were officially out of baby lockdown. Look out, civilization. Katie is back in business, and her whole crew is in tow.
Ha ha. Ha ha ha.
The day after that zoo trip, the news about COVID-19 came out. Scientists literally knew nothing about it yet, and we had a newborn. My family went back into self-isolation a week or so before most other people. It’s July, and we are still home almost all the time. We are sticking with it as much as we possibly can until the medical and scientific communities agree that we can go back to some kind of normal.
I literally had one glorious week of real life with my new baby before the world fell to fricking pieces. 2020 decided to be a total shitshow, and there is still no end in sight.
Now my little Amelia is six months old. She is a joy, and we adore her.
But she’s barely been anywhere. Her first year is nothing like I imagined it would be.
I’m not devastated about it. I am immensely grateful that I work part-time from home, so staying in with her has been totally doable. I am so relieved that she is healthy, growing, and perfect. Spending my baby’s first year in the comfort and safety of our sweet little home is nothing to be all torn up about, and I realize that. I am not taking all my layers of privilege for granted.
But I do have feelings, and they’re not all warm and fuzzy. I can’t spend my entire life in blissful gratitude. I’m a human being living in the weirdest time imaginable, and it’s totally fine for me to be unsure how I feel about it.
This little one is my very last baby, and I’ve had to rethink everything I had planned for her. By this age, my boys had been on vacations and day trips. They had dipped their toes in the ocean, visited zoos and aquariums, and explored nearby cities. They had met everyone we love.
My daughter been home, almost exclusively. Almost all the gorgeous little clothes I picked out for her first year have ended up staying home. I do put her in them and take pictures, but then I put them away in pristine condition. She outgrows them before anyone else can see her.
All my gorgeous baby-wearing apparatuses are on hangers in her closet collecting dust. My beautiful woven wraps will never see the light of day.
My baby hasn’t been able to visit my mom’s family in New Jersey or my dad’s in New England. I bought her a little onesie that says “wicked smaht,” so I could make my grandmother laugh when she sees her. There’s a 100% chance she will outgrow it before we get to put it on her and take her first flight to Boston. Speaking of my grandmother–she has never laid eyes on her.
My mom came here for Amelia’s birth, and left thinking she would return in six weeks. That was almost six months ago. Thanks to COVID-19, they haven’t even taken a photo together yet. We didn’t think about it in the haze of those first two weeks, but we figured we’d grab a cute photo of them together in their Easter best. That wasn’t possible.
Neither was Mother’s Day.
Or 4th of July.
We don’t know how long this is going to drag on or how much more she will miss.
It’s just a bummer.
I’m not saying everything about this is horrible. It’s not. I spend my days snuggling a healthy baby and taking a million pictures and playing outside in our big, grassy yard. We go to my dad’s pool, and we take a ride in the car a couple times a week just for a change of scenery. My baby is thriving, and we are all okay.
This is just not how I pictured my first year with my last baby. I wanted to start our adventure as a family of five, but right now, grand adventures and big plans are on hold.
Even when this COVID-19 pandemic started, I still thought that the beginning of the school year would be my chance to spend one-on-one time with my baby. It never occurred to me that it would last this long. My boys were both supposed to be in full-time school this year. Third babies don’t get a lot of one-on-one time, and this was going to be her chance. I kept holding out for that.
Instead, starting next month, I will be helping my older son complete second grade from home via distance learning. My four-year-old has autism and his team agrees that he needs a structured preschool program to get ready for kindergarten. His attendance will mean increased risk for our family—especially for him. I am working to mitigate my own anxiety about that to do what’s best for him. But it means that we will still have to work hard not to take any unnecessary risks.
We will be home for a while. This isn’t over for us.
Obviously, this year isn’t all sadness and disappointment. Even COVID-19 can’t stifle the absolute joy that comes with a new baby. I’m grateful for our health and safety, and our ability to keep our kids home until something changes.
I also know how lucky I am that my baby was born before this all began. This is probably so much harder for people who have had babies since the pandemic started. I am so lucky to have given birth in the world I already knew. Having a new baby in the COVID-19 pandemic world is another level of tough.
Having a new baby is beautiful and special. It’s just that having a baby in a pandemic means there’s some disappointment mixed into the joy. This pandemic has changed everything I imagined this year would be. I’m a little bummed about all things we have missed, and these precious months we are spending in a totally different way than I hoped.
I can see how lucky we are and be a little sad at the very same time. That’s exactly how I am feeling about having a baby during a pandemic.