Guest columnist Jen Guyuron is the author of “The Baby in the Window,” a new keepsake book and love letter for children, and for the families, who were born during the pandemic. Through beautiful and sentimental illustrations, the children’s book documents the uncharted waters of having a baby during the pandemic and gives hope to families everywhere that brighter days are coming.
In life, I’m a planner. Calendars and to-do lists are my friends. So, naturally, when my husband, Glen, and I found out we were pregnant in 2019, I began to plan for what our baby’s arrival would look like.
By the time March 2020 rolled around, I had hired a night nurse to help us get through those first two sleepless weeks. I had picked out — and packed up — outfits for me and my daughter to wear home from the hospital. I had the nursery all arranged.
And, of course, I had notified our family to be on guard for the call about our baby’s arrival. I was looking forward to having them all in the waiting room to meet our daughter for the first time.
Then COVID-19 hit. The country went on lockdown. Just like that, everything I had so carefully planned for went out the window.
Our daughter, Gigi, was born on March 16,, 2020, right as the city began shutting down. With fears of COVID, the only hugs we could receive from our family were the virtual kind. We canceled the night nurse. The only way we could have visitors safely was by having them stand outside our back-door window.
Being a first-time parent during a pandemic was hard. But there were silver linings. My husband got to witness moments with Gigi that he otherwise might have missed. We bonded as a family unit. And, of course, we had this new bundle of joy to love.
One year in, I know firsthand how unique parenting during this time is. That’s why I recently published a children’s keepsake book, “The Baby in the Window,” so other parents could feel understood during this time (and also document milestones!)
It’s also why I wanted to share my top tips for coping with a baby during the pandemic.
Accept your feelings
Yes, having a baby is one of the most momentous and joyful times in life. But it’s OK to also feel stress, anger or grief about how different your experience is. Family and friends, no matter how well-meaning, have never gone through new motherhood with COVID as a backdrop. Your feelings — all of them! — are perfectly valid and normal.
Find creative ways to connect
Early on, we realized we’d have to be creative if we wanted people to meet our baby safely. We came up with the idea of family visiting at our windowed back door. Later, when it was warmer, we’d have socially distanced outdoor visits. Those moments of connection gave us a small sense of normalcy, which all parents need.
Be firm on boundaries
Gigi’s safety, my husband and I agreed, was our Number 1 priority. We consulted our doctors for safety recommendations and stuck firm to our boundaries. This could be heartbreaking at times — our siblings have only hugged Gigi a few times (and always with a mask). But the united front makes you stronger as parents and keeps everyone safer.
Document this time
We are living in an historic moment and experiencing milestones that our children are going to want to know about. That’s why mementos and keepsakes — like “The Baby in the Window” — are so important. Soon, these moments will be memories, and you will want a visual record of this time.
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