Welcome to our new series, “I Had a Baby During a Pandemic,” wherein we talk about a stressful situation made even crazier by COVID-19.
Our first interviewee is Peabody resident Amy Grossman, whose second daughter, Aliza, was born on April 18—a month into the pandemic. She has a toddler, Shayna, as well.
How was this pregnancy different from your first?
One of the biggest differences was my husband wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital and then come back in! He was going to go home and take care of the toddler and our dogs. My in-laws took care of the toddler [in the meantime].
Were you scared?
We were a little scared. I gave birth at Beverly Hospital, and we were told there was a separate maternity ward for COVID patients. I’m not sure how true that is. It seemed so crazy. They asked us questions when we got into the hospital, but they never tested me for COVID. I have a friend who gave birth in June. She had to have a test when she went to the hospital and was told, “If we don’t get a negative result back, we take the baby away until we do.” It scared the crap out of her!
How is life different for you now?
For us, the biggest difference is not being able to see people, how we’ve lived our lives since the pandemic. With Shayna, our whole family came to the hospital. In a way, I’m thankful nobody came right away, because it’s stressful having just given birth and to have everyone show up. Since then, very few family members have even met her. We used to take my toddler everywhere with us. She went to restaurants with us. We went multiple times a week. And we have never stepped foot inside a restaurant with my 9-month-old. My oldest has gone to a hundred restaurants!
Do you have any help?
I’m a dog trainer. I work part-time. I’m mostly home, and my husband takes care of the kids in the evenings. We’ve had family, our parents, and they have been available to take care of them. They have been our bubble. We got pretty lucky. My mother-in-law doesn’t work. My father-in-law works from home. For quite a while, my mom wasn’t working because of the pandemic. My oldest has never been to preschool or daycare. I was hoping to send her to a one-day-a-week program last summer.
Any advice to people in the same boat?
If we knew the pandemic was going to happen, we may have waited to have a second kid! But now we savor every moment.
What’s been the hardest part of this ordeal?
Being stuck at home and not being able to take the kids places. We wish we could take her to the zoo and the aquarium and stuff like that. We’re missing out on those experiences that we want, even if the kids don’t even remember them. It’s fun to do kid things when you have kids.
How careful are you?
Every once in a while we go to a store. We try to go at a time that will be less busy. It’s nerve-racking. The vaccine isn’t approved for people under 16. We’ll be fine, but the whole idea of kids getting COVID and the lasting effects is scary.
Anything you’re looking forward to once this is over?
I’m hoping our toddler will go to preschool in the summer or fall. I am imagining that when she’ll be in preschool, I can take the baby to playgroups. We went to a Jewish playgroup once a week previously, with Shayna, for little snippets of socialization.
Is there a silver lining here?
When everything was closed and I had an infant, we could take it slow. We spent every day playing in the backyard, holding the baby. I remember it as being a special time—it’s just us, and we’re OK. I was cherishing spending all that time together. Kids in general are exhausting, but not having to go anywhere during the pandemic was nice. If the pandemic wasn’t going on, I would have wanted to take my toddler to playgroups. Not having the stress of getting two kids ready and out the door is actually kind of nice. My baby has pretty severe reflux. She was projectile vomiting, and I’m glad it did not have to happen at a playgroup!