First of all, baby is healthy and baby is a boy. Pregnancy number 3 sure has been different. I never thought that prior to each doctor’s appointment I would receive a call from a medical assistant reminding me to wear a mask. I never thought that I would have to be alone in an ultrasound room, sharing the sex of the baby with my husband through a splotchy video call. This pandemic has certainly taught me two things. One, life as we know it is so precious, and two, the spirit of fear is very, very real.
My baby is due in August, and people, (by people I mean the media) are already trying to tell me that I need to be scared, since I am a pregnant woman during a nationwide pandemic. Because of my careless Google searching for baby this and baby that, my Facebook, Youtube, and other Internet outlets are flooded with news articles that claim to meet my personal situation. I am bombarded with stories about babies infected with Covid-19 separated from their mothers, stories about cases on the rise in newborns, and how dangerously susceptible pregnant women are to Covid-19. I never click on any of these links. I didn’t want to believe any of it, and I certainly didn’t want it to start effecting my mental health. My mental health, by the way, was already very shaky, because I was already thinking about the future. Will my husband be allowed in the delivery room? Will I have to be separated from my family if someone in the hospital infects me? What is my trip to the hospital going to look like this time around? Are my doctors keeping things from me? Are people at the grocery store judging me when they see a pregnant woman remove her mask for a breath of fresh air? It’s a rabbit hole, right. And once you go down the rabbit hole, you forget to turn off the anxiety, think positive, and focus on the good. I honestly don’t think it is just me. You don’t need to be a pregnant woman for these fears to invade you.
For these past three months, I don’t think anyone who has an addiction to social media, yes I am confessing my addiction, can be considered mentally healthy. The fear and the depressing news is everywhere. I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone, to keep me from checking it. I honestly didn’t think that the “long way” of having to go to a browser and type in the website and manually login all of my information would keep me from succumbing to my addiction, but lo and behold, it did. Not having that simple little button on my phone, made me realize how my muscle memory has developed and solidified a very unhealthy dependence on that little blue lowercase f.
One new thing that has happened during this pregnancy is that I failed my one-hour glucose test for the first time. For those of you who don’t know how much a pregnant woman dreads a 3-hour glucose test, here is what happens: They give you a drink that is very high in sugar that tastes like a super syrupy orange soda. You have 5 minutes to chug it, then they take your blood at the top of the hour for three hours. The purpose is to determine if you have gestational diabetes. I am very thankful for the technical age that we live in, because, I was able to have my headphones and Netflix while I waited for them to take my blood. At the lab, they set up a room to put all the pregnant women in, so we wouldn’t be exposed to other patients needing lab work. All the chairs were six-feet apart and we all had masks. I knew that some women were only there for the one hour, so as an hour went by, I noticed that we all still had our masks on. I remember thinking, “we really should take a break or something,” but I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers or make anyone feel uncomfortable. I had taken a breath every now and then and I even took a bathroom break to remove my mask. After 2 hours, the two ladies that remained in the room with me were just hunched and I could feel the room still shrouded in the spirit of fear. I couldn’t take it anymore, I removed my mask and said, “Ladies! Please, if you need to take off your mask, please do so. You will not offend me. We are pregnant. We need to breathe!” To my astonishment, they looked up at me, smiled (smiling eyes, that is) and said a very grateful, “Okay.” This whole time, we all may have been trying to not offend people, or were afraid we would get reprimanded or kicked out for desperately wanting to breathe. Do you hear how ridiculous that sounds? Breathing for a pregnant woman is kind of important. My successful soapbox moment really clued me in to how easy it is to give in to how social posts, the news, and so called “experts” say you should handle yourself during a pandemic. I am by no means an expert, and I’m not about to tell someone who has health problems to shed their masks and to not be afraid. I just think that fear is the driving force behind a lot of people’s mental health and I don’t support those who manipulate people’s fears for their own benefit.
Before my one-hour glucose test all of my doctor’s visits were pretty standard. I didn’t really like all of the labels, like “high risk” or “geriatric pregnancy”. It felt like they labeled me naive as if this was my first pregnancy. Perhaps with the Covid-19 situation, maybe everything doctors know about geriatric pregnancies could be amplified in a pandemic setting. I wish they would just tell me instead of just expressing their “I’m the doctor” attitude. It is probably also true that doctors have their own personal problems, and they are more exposed to this than anyone, so they might be going down a rabbit hole of thoughts themselves. It’s their job after all to look after their patients, but isn’t there anything they can do to come off a little less insulting to a woman who has already had two children?
After my 3-hour glucose test I was told that I passed, but barely, so they recommended I monitor my blood sugar for two weeks. After those two weeks, I discovered that there had been disagreement between doctors. One said I barely passed and didn’t have GD, but another said that I did have gestational diabetes. I was not happy to be told different information and that not everyone was on the same page. Heck, I even spoke to the diabetic nutrition nurse and she said my levels looked pretty good when I was monitoring for two weeks. So, I was under the impression that everything was okay. So, cut to now…the air has cleared and, yes, I have to poke myself and draw blood four times a day, because the doctors are mainly concerned about my sugar levels first thing in the morning and I do “officially” have GD.
What is so hard to think about right now, is that because of my GD diagnosis, I have been scheduled for weekly ultrasounds and husband isn’t allowed to accompany me to any of them. As a woman who has miscarried I always hold my breath begging for that heartbeat sound to quickly make itself known. It pains me to say that that fear still grips me, even if I hang onto my mustard-seed faith. It is a very quelling feeling not having my husband with me holding my hand. making me forget that I am in a doctor’s office during a pandemic, scared and unaware of the future. I worry when I’m not pregnant and worry now that I am pregnant, and technology continues to blitz my emotions with so many things that tell me to embrace the worry surrounding my health and my new baby. Fear is reigning supreme and it needs to stop. Pregnancy comes with hormonal changes, mental mood swings, aches, pains, fatigue, to just name a few, so the last thing a pregnant woman needs is a daily (and if you have a Facebook account, hourly) reminder that sickness is everywhere.
I think about the woman who pushed through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. She was sick for 12 years, spent all of her money on treatments, and nothing worked. How many diagnoses was she given? How was she treated by doctors? Did she hear terms like “lost soul” “unclean” “high risk” every time she met with a new doctor? She was unclean for 12 years. That means 12 years of social distancing (including isolation from all of her family), 12 years of longing to be cleansed from the bleeding, 12 years of living in fear. And then it all changed. She heard about Jesus, and in her desperation, she broke the law, pushed through the crowd, (probably under the gaze of judgmental and horrified eyes) and as her fingertips caressed the fringe of Jesus’ clothes, she was miraculously healed. And what happened after she was healed? Did she run to a husband, a child, or her mother and jump into their arms with joy? Did she scream at the top of her lungs how she was healed by the power of Jesus? Did she start a bonfire with all of her unclean garments that evening and dance and praise before the Lord? I like to think that after this pandemic is over that the world will celebrate in a way like this. I am hopeful that once it ends there won’t be blame or malice, (at least for a day). I pray that it won’t turn into another Black Friday, where the memory of lives lost to Covid turns into a “holiday” weekend where we will stampede into stores to buy the junk we just proved we don’t need. I hope that instead, millions will show gratitude for the lessons this pandemic held, like what is really important in our lives. Not professional sports, not movies, not politics, not the every day grind of making a buck. May there just be relief and peace followed by joyous family reunions and a multitude of us turning to Jesus in humility and praise.
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
Luke 8:42-44 NIV
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG
Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Matthew 6:27 NLT