The coronavirus pandemic has brought many areas of life to a halt, but there are some things in life that keep going, no matter what. Babies come with their own timing.
“Harrison was born on March 12, that was really the infancy of COVID-19 hitting South Dakota,” Nikki Foster said.
Like many moms who are now expecting, Nikki Foster’s nine-month journey to meet her son happened to end during a worldwide pandemic.
“Really while we were in the hospital it was as if the whole world was kind of changing around us,” Foster said.
She went into labor the day Avera announced it was no longer allowing visitors into the hospital.
“Of course that’s not what we were expecting at all. We had planned on bringing in his big sister to meet him and grandparents to meet him right away, but with this policy you know of course we wanted to keep everybody safe too,” Foster said.
Foster says this hospital experience with her son was very different from when she had her daughter just two years ago.
“It’s just a lot quieter,” Foster said. “They’re trying to get families in and out as quickly and safely as possible.”
While the Foster family of four made it home quickly, the pandemic is adding further complications for moms and newborns who have an extended hospital stay.
“Who has twins during a pandemic, who does this?” April Camarigg said. “I went into preterm labor, they stopped it, I went on bed-rest and then they delivered at 34 weeks and now we are in the NICU.”
April Camarig thought the biggest shock of this pregnancy would be her initial sonogram.
“Nobody really prepares you for the news that there are two babies in your womb,” Camarigg said.
But then COVID came into the picture as April began to have late-term complications.
“My blood pressure went up, I can’t necessarily blame COVID, but it was pretty stressful at the time,” Camarigg said.
Delivering twins at 34 weeks would be stressful at any time, but the pandemic led to many more scary questions.
“My husband was panicking, and so was I, that he wouldn’t be able to be at the delivery and then at the NICU as well afterwards,” Camarigg said.
It’s a reality some families have faced during this pandemic as dads who may have the virus can’t be there for the birth of their child.
Camarigg is thankful her husband Teague was able to be their for the birth of their twin boys, Liam and Grayson. But now, after a month in the NICU, mom and dad are still the only members of the family who have met these new little lives.
“My daughters haven’t met them, my mom and dad and my mother-in-law and father-in-law, nobody has met these little babies but my husband and I and the NICU staff,” she said.
That was especially difficult when Grayson began to battle a life threatening disease.
“For three or four days we we’re just holding that little boy just praying to God that we were going to get to take him home,” Camarigg said.
Grayson is now recovering well, but both boys need more time to grow before they can safely go home to meet their big sisters.
“I wear different clothes when I get there and different clothes when I get home,” Camarigg said.
As a NICU family splitting time between their girls at home and the boys at the hospital, the coronavirus pandemic is still a looming concern on their minds every day.
“If I were to get COVID, or my husband were to get COVID, we would be quarantined for two weeks, away from our babies. And as a mom who is trying to create that bond and trying to nurse those babies as they just came into this world at this horrible horrible time, its a pretty hard thing to swallow,” Camarigg said.
Even as the boys’ health improves and the family looks forward to going home, April says the pandemic will continue to change her expectations.
“The support I was looking forward to having even outpatient, I won’t have, because the clinics aren’t doing random visits anymore, I can’t go in and weigh my babies, I can’t go into lactation support groups, I only get to go in for immunizations,” Camarigg said.
Camarigg says nearly every expectation she had for her delivery and postpartum care changed during the pandemic. Both she and Foster say it’s important for other moms who may be close to their due date to know their own expectations for their birth plan will likely be altered.
“Be flexible with your plan because things are changing all of the time. And have trust in your doctors and your care team. They’re going to be there with you through delivery and through follow up care,” Foster said.
These KELOLAND moms also say it’s important to lean on your support system and those who are offering help, even from afar, so mom and dad can stay strong too.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup,” Camarigg said. “I need to continue taking care of myself so I can take care of all four of my children.”
Another important word these pandemic moms used is trust: trust that all of the changes are there to help keep you and baby safe. They say you can also trust that postpartum services will be there for you to provide support virtually throughout the pandemic.