I'm 37 Weeks Into My High-Risk Pregnancy During COVID-19: Here's What My Doctors Told Me
A month ago, I was worried because my husband and I couldn't agree on a name for our third child. Our due date, April 8, was rapidly approaching and we couldn't even manage to find one we both liked. Now, I wish disagreeing over baby names was the biggest thing we had to worry about.
On Wednesday, I fought back tears while sitting with a paper blanket draped across my lap as my OB and I talked through my fears that my baby and I would die during delivery, and what the logistics of my hospital being on lockdown would mean for me when it came time to push.
This is what it's like to be 37 weeks pregnant during a pandemic.
There is never a good time to carry a high-risk pregnancy, but the absolute worst time has to be during the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak. I wasn't actually too worried about being high risk this time around. Sure, an unknown medical complication when I was delivering my first child in 2014 caused me to have a massive hemorrhage, requiring an extensive stay in the hospital and multiple blood transfusions, but my second delivery had gone off without a hitch. Based on that, and the fact that I trusted my doctors to be able to help me if something went wrong this time around, I'd felt confident.
I had such high hopes of being the zen, third time mom who spent the last moments of her pregnancy cracking jokes and keeping a level head. Instead, I find myself making frequent trips to my bedroom or the bathroom where I can cry without my kids seeing me. I am living in near-constant fear thinking of all of the potential things that could go wrong during delivery due to COVID-19.
My Fears of Delivery During COVID-19
I know there hasn't been a ton of research yet, but preliminary findings show COVID-19 may not pass from Mom to Baby in late pregnancy. The CDC also reports, "No infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus." That's a relief, and I'm also a low risk of contracting the virus. But what if my baby and I die because of the strain COVID-19 puts on the medical staff at my hospital?
I am stressing that my doctors won't even be in the delivery room with me. What if they are sick with COVID-19? What if the hospital is short-staffed when it is time for me to deliver and there isn't anyone around to help me when I start bleeding because I am alone? What if they run out of blood? (The Red Cross just announced that national blood supplies are dipping due to an inability to hold blood drives.)
These are the thoughts that run through my head as I count down to my due date. Instead of joy, each passing day brings a fresh batch of anxiety and a wave of anger.
Of course I thought of some worst case scenarios while waiting for my due date before this coronavirus—my water breaking on April Fools' Day and nobody believing I was in labor, my soon-to-be middle child not adjusting well to the loss of "baby" status, a long and painful labor that resulted in a C-section. But giving birth during a pandemic was never even a thought that crossed my mind. Now here, today, that's all I can think about. And think about. And think about.
Why I'm Keeping Calm
Even still, I'm trying to hold on to some faith. I know the medical staff at my hospital and at my OB's office are doing everything they can. They did their best to reassure me, telling me they were unlikely to have labor and delivery staff pulled to attend to other departments, since labor and delivery are in an entirely different area of the hospital.
My OB also explained how the hospital is making proactive changes, not reactive ones, by following the same procedures they used during the H1N1 pandemic, like limiting visitors and support people in the delivery room in order to prevent spread of the virus. These are policies with a history of success, and not ones they are hoping would work, she explained.
After talking to her I did feel better.
I know I'm not the only one who's scared right now. I noticed that same look of fear in the face of every pregnant woman I saw in my OB's waiting room. I saw their hidden tears, their sadness, and the disappointment that mirrored my own, and I remembered that we're all in this together. And suddenly, I didn't feel that alone.