If you recall the situation in May: No mandatory mask, Europe and New York were on fire with Covid-19, and the economy was in a forced lock-down. The maternity wards were being kept safe, in some cases we had to give birth there alone, without our husbands, and with a mask on. Hospital rules changed daily as our nation struggled with a rising case count.
After dropping me off at the hospital, my husband has to wait in the parking lot since he was not allowed in the hospital until I was admitted. We live over 40km from the hospital and to our surprise we learned that May is the month with the highest number of births at our hospital.
After receiving my first dose of medications I was told to walk around to help start labour, but since we were in a pandemic I could only walk around my stretcher in triage. Throughout the morning my blood pressure rose and at 1pm just before the second dose of medicine I was admitted. Finally, my husband could join me. I had felt no contractions during the day the nurses warned us we were in for the long haul. She explained the procedures for a C-section as a precaution, but told us that it really wasn’t necessary in our case. When I was given the second dose of medication at 2pm, the doctor came in and said “I don’t like this, it’s time to go to the operating room.” And with those words 8 nurses and 2 doctors came rushing in the room. By 3:03pm Ela was welcomed into the world. We had a great time with 48 hours in the hospital and we left with our tiny (5lbs 10oz) healthy baby girl.
48 hours after discharge we had to go back to the hospital for the routine “healthy baby check” due to covid my husband could not come in so they needed to call a porter to come help me bring the baby up to our appointment. It was less than 4 days since I had a c section and I couldn’t carry the car seat. Baby was sleeping so the nurse and I were talking about eating, sleeping, car seat safety, and all the things you go over with a sleep deprived, emotional, and post opt mom. We were doing things “okay” but each point was like well that’s okay, but you should be doing it like this. I now see she was trying to be helpful, but at the time I felt like the worse mom ever! And I didn’t even have my husband to help me deal with any of this.
Then the nurse examined baby Ela and asked if she always had the bump on her cheek? I thought she just had cute chubby cheeks? She quickly left the room and the doctor who assessed her after delivery was there and explained that she did not have this at birth and how could I have not noticed this? Again, felt like I had failed her! However, 3 nurses and a doctor hadn’t noticed this either. Ela had her first ultrasound at that appointment to see what the lump was. Being hormonal and sleep deprived I was doing my best to update my husband by phone as he was still in the parking lot. Once the ultrasound was complete, the doctor comes in and says Sick Kids in Ottawa or Toronto, you need to pick now. So, I call my husband and we pick Ottawa, we have no idea of the time frame and didn’t know if she being air lifted out today or was this an appointment in the future. Was a wreck at this point and for the fifth time I pleaded for my husband to join me. They told me “it’s not that serious he doesn’t need to be here” The doctor finally comes back in and says “well good news it’s not cancer” I was stunned and had no idea that was even something that was being considered. Ela has Lymphangioma which is common and compared to a birth mark.
The cell reception was terrible, I couldn’t keep him updated and we had no idea this whole process would take hours.
She is so small they don’t even have a gown that will fit her.
Ela turned 2 months old in the hospital and we were so excited for her to finally be able to be held by her grandparents without a mask. Ela was sent home with some meds to help stop the Lymphangioma from coming back that wipe out her immune system. So now we have to be even more cautious. Unfortunately, grandparents still to this day have to wear a mask. This medication requires antibiotics and monthly fasting blood work so we still spend a lot of time at the hospital. This also comes with so much concern for her health we are constantly on high alert. Being a new parent is hard but thankfully there are many who have come before you. But being a new parent in the beginning of a global pandemic with a sick baby is uncharted territory. All we are trying to do is make the best decisions for our baby with the information we have. Fortunately, Ela is responding really well to treatments and it such a happy wonderful little baby!
So, if you know somebody who has given birth in the pandemic or is pregnant please send them a virtual hug and don’t question their decision. They are doing the best they can in this new and scary world.
Written by: Krystan Pinard
Photo by: @ljeanphotography