Jolynne and Jonathan Chapman scheduled the birth of their second little boy for Friday, March 13. Everyone teased them about the potential for bad luck in picking such a date, but as Owensboro began to shut-down due to the risk of Covid-19 over the following few days, the Chapmans realized it had been perfect timing.
On Friday evening procedures were normal, the grandparents came to gush over baby Luke. Jonathan came for a visit but then went home to tend to their toddler. On Saturday, they received word that only Jonathan could come to visit in the hospital, and by the time they discharged on Sunday, new rules were emerging that even dads could not come and go freely.
Since being home, the hardest part for Jolynne has been the guilt over keeping the grandparents from their kids. They are tempted to take the risk, but Jolynne and Jonathan just feel that with a brand new baby and her father in delicate health right now, the potential consequences are just too dangerous. Jonathan does all the errand running and they are cautious about his outings using disinfectant before allowing anything into the house. Big brother, Levi, is home from daycare and missing his friends, but everyone is adjusting to this new normal.
Megan and Jonathan Hill assumed that they were ready for the arrival of their third baby this spring. Just like her older brother and sister, baby Hannah would probably need to be induced after her due date. So there should have been at least another week to prepare. That was the plan. But babies don’t follow plans!
It was the first week of April. Due to the quarantine, Megan had already begun working from home and taking precautions to limit contact with others. At Megan’s 39 week appointment she was told that no progress was being made and so they would see her in another week. The very next morning Megan’s water broke. Having never had this happen on its own, Megan called her doctor’s office, and they encouraged her to head to the hospital. Under normal circumstances this would have been an easy bit of advice to follow, but with the threat of Covid-19 clamping restrictions onto the community and the hospital, Megan convinced the doctor’s office to allow her to come there for a check first. She did not want to risk exposure of the virus on a false alarm.
The nurses at the doctor’s office confirmed for Megan that she was in fact in labor and needed to head to Labor and Delivery. Jonathan was at home with the older children and in the surprise of the timing had to scramble to pack and to find childcare. In the meantime, Megan drove herself to the hospital to check in. As she approached, Megan realized that the hospital entrances were now rearranged so that the Emergency Room and Labor and Delivery were the same location. Nurses in full gowns and masks waited outside the entrance to meet patients as they entered. They took Megan’s temperature and asked her a barrage of questions about how she felt, where she had been, and who she had been around. Then she was finally admitted.
Meanwhile, Jonathan contacted his parents who live in Louisiana. The plan was always for them to come stay with the older kids and help in the early days when the baby came home. In preparation, they had self-quarantined themselves for the two weeks prior. They quickly packed their bags and began the long trip up.
Jonathan had to be ready with everything when he arrived at the hospital because once he came in, he was asked to remain there until Megan and new baby, Hannah were discharged. No other visitors would be allowed. Fortunately, Jonathan made it to the hospital in time. Everything went smoothly and after 24 hours or so, the family was released to go home. Everyone felt it would be safer to send them home than risk exposure in the hospital with a lengthy stay.
Since being home, the Hills are doing well. This strange time has been tricky for shopping. They try to plan ahead and purchase online to limit shopping trips, but they have found that some supplies, like certain sized diapers, are hard to find. Also, Megan’s parents, who live in Louisiana too, continue to work and so have not been able to visit due to risk of virus exposure. That has been hard for everyone.
Ivy and Matt Morris are expecting their second child in July. Ivy has a responsible but laid back attitude about the whole quarantine situation. Before the community shut down, Ivy was a hairdresser and her doctor cautioned her that this profession was one of especially high risk for exposure due to the close nature of the work. Ivy was not too worried, but now sees what a blessing being at home these last few weeks has been.
She lets Matt do the errand running to limit her contact with others. However, they do continue to visit with both sets of grandparents. They all limit their contact to the family circle so the grandparents can continue to enjoy time with Ivy’s and Matt’s older child. Their biggest prayer right now is that all of the restrictions and concerns about Covid-19 will be resolved by the time their new little one comes into the world.
Every adventure into new life is unique and special. But, the COVID-19 quarantine situation is causing many of the “normal” aspects of pregnancy and birth to be affected.
The staff of the Women’s Pavilion have made several adjustments to ensure the safety of their patients since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
More and more visits are being conducted through telemedicine.
Before in-office appointments patients are interviewed by phone to ensure they are not displaying signs of illness.
Patients are encouraged to come to the office alone and so video chat has become a regular fixture of the ultrasound experience.
All staff wear masks to protect the patients and themselves.
Once at the hospital, the staff have made the move to full masks, face shields, and gowns during delivery. “We have been very fortunate that so far we have not had any positive patients or staff members and I really think it is because we are taking social distancing guidelines very seriously,” says Dr. Angela Dawson at the time of this writing.
However, there is a comprehensive plan in place if an expectant mother does arrive for delivery with Covid-19.
“We are fortunate to have an excellent team working on this plan and are using data from other institutions where there have been several Covid-19 positive deliveries as our guide,” Dr. Dawson said.
Because pregnant women can contract Covid-19, Dr. Dawson recommends that her patients work from home if at all possible. If this is impossible, she suggests to her patients to begin maternity leave at 2-3 weeks prior to the expected due date to limit exposure during this time. This is especially important to protect the newborn baby after delivery. There are cases of newborns contracting the virus.
Some women are experiencing greater anxiety during this time and Dr. Dawson encourages those women to be open with their healthcare providers and to reach out to friends and family for support.
“Postpartum depression and anxiety can certainly be exacerbated by social isolation,” she said. “Stay in touch with friends and family via FaceTime or other social media platforms. Remember that social distancing is temporary and is meant to keep families safe.”
Despite all the inconveniences that quarantine has brought us, bringing new life into the world will always be essential. With each new life, we also see a renewed hope that we will get through this together.