I am an eternal optimist. I always strive to see the light, the good, the joy that each new day brings.
Last summer, I had a miscarriage. Learning we were blessed with another baby was something that I woke up grateful for every day. It didn’t matter what tough obstacles we were faced with, I knew that beautiful memories were in our future.
My first three births were in a hospital. I have an “exciting” story for each one due to the hospital staff and the way that hospitals handle birth. I wanted this last birth to be mine. I wanted to feel in charge of my own body, I wanted to feel in control of how I brought my baby into the world. I wanted to be present- without the fog of an overly dosed epidural. I wanted a group of supportive women around me, keeping me at peace, encouraging me that this is what God created my body to do.
I wanted to lean on my husband for support, rather than have nurses in the way. I wanted to take in every moment, rather than have it all just so cold and rushed. A water birth is my dream, holding my baby in the water, bonding without being rushed… I wanted my children to be present for early stages of labor at the very least. To celebrate the miracle that is about to take place. To feel like they could help me through and be a part of it all. To witness the bond and support of my husband. These are the dreams I had for my final chapter in childbearing.
Now, as a 4th time mother and as a birth photographer, I know all too well that birth very rarely goes according to plan. This is why I said these were my “dreams” for this final pregnancy, and not my “plan”.
That being said, the place I had really dreamed of having both of my boys was Baby + Company in Nashville. With Greyson, it wasn’t yet open and I was blessed to find an incredible OB and I couldn’t imagine not being in her care when I became pregnant with Wes. For this last pregnancy, I decided that Baby + Company would be where we would deliver. A bit scary, seeing as we live and hour and forty-five minutes away, without traffic. But to me, I had full faith it would all work out. The comforting, calming environment. The support of the amazing midwives. Being able to deliver in the beautiful birthing tubs. The fact that my kids could be there, that I can have a birth photographer… it was all a very realistic dream for me.
Recently, I had received an e-mail from Baby + Company here in Nashville that they had been acquired by Vanderbilt. My due date is April 29th and the acquisition is to take place on May 1st. So as long as this sweet baby decides to come earlier/on time everything would be okay. That was the first curveball. But mentally, I stayed positive. I stayed focused on that dream vs the potential of everything NOT going according to “plan”. Days later, Coronavirus changed everything.
Before Coronavirus really became an issue here in the US, I didn’t worry too much about it. That isn’t to say that I wasn’t keeping other countries in prayer and concerned for those who were falling ill and losing their lives in other areas of the world, but I simply didn’t think it would spread so quickly here. I was ignorant to how unprepared our own country was to handle something like this. Of course, I know I was silly to think that. I think because of my anxiety, I was also partially in denial to protect myself from getting too worked up- especially with being compromised due to having chronic respiratory issues when I was younger. I had no idea just how much would change in our day-to-day lives due to this virus.
Being pregnant right now is difficult. I won’t sugar coat it any longer. I won’t slap a smile on my face anymore and pretend that it’s not something that is causing me to lose sleep. The thought of bringing a fragile, brand new life into the world during these times worries me every day. Pregnant women all over the world are carrying this extra weight. So, reach out to your pregnant friends. Pray for those you care for that are about to bring new life into the world during such a scary time. We need it.
Along with the general fears of bringing a baby into the world, along with being out of work, along with not being able to feed my family and my growing baby the way I’d like to due to shortages, I have had the “dream” in my head of this birth completely stripped away. The images in my head that I’ve held onto in the difficult times, are now so blurry. New restrictions are being put into place. I understand why, I really do. I know this sounds selfish but honestly, it’s not really something I can carry alone anymore- and anyone who knows me knows that my heart is always in a place of wanting to help and support those around me, is always considering the bigger picture and what is causing others to hurt. That doesn’t make my feelings any less valid or less important.
In the last week I have learned that Baby + Company isn’t allowing more than 2 people in their birth suites with mom (think birth partner and doula). So, I can’t have my kids there- mind you, we don’t have any family here, so that stress is overwhelming. What else does this mean? My final birth won’t be documented by a photographer. I know some of you may roll your eyes at this because it seems so small and trivial compared to the big things others are losing, like their loved ones. I understand completely that in the big picture I am blessed to be faced with looking at new life and not loss of life. Then today, I learned that if I needed to be transferred to vanderbilt, I can no longer have a team from Baby + Company continue my care. The care is now 100% in the hands of Vanderbilt. Which was the LAST thing I wanted. So here I sit, writing this, filled with the anxiety of being pregnant during this pandemic, the fear of bringing a new baby into this world with a highly contagious virus running rampant. I have the fear of work and the financial future of my family and the worry for those that I love. Icing on the cake is just my birth dreams not feeling attainable. It’s my last birth, I wanted to be 100% present, not have to worry about a camera, about Jay needing to take photos or video. I wanted to enjoy this last month and focus solely on every kick and movement, every little hiccup, every moment with my 3 children before this baby comes to join our family, to dream of the way she will come into this world. It’s all been taken. All of the good that I was clinging to in these scary, unknown times have been pulled out from under me before I could even blink. Now I am here, scrambling. Trying to decide if I gamble and still follow my current birth plan, or if I start over building trust elsewhere, in the form of a home birth. It’s a tricky thing to navigate- if you are still reading and have advice, I will gladly take it!
So again, I ask you to pray. Pray for the world right now, for those fighting for their lives, those fighting to keep their fears under control and for those of your friends and family who are pregnant. This is a scary time in our world, but the added pressure of keeping new life safe is just completely overwhelming.
Stay healthy, friends. Pray hard & WASH YOUR HANDS.
Photos in post by Middle TN Photographer Ashley Erin West of Sugar Maple Studio