It was a slow Sunday morning, a month and a half since the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) was announced in Metro Manila, when I decided to take a pregnancy test. I didn’t know what result I was hoping for exactly when I was opening the pack, but I remember closing my eyes, saying a quick prayer, and slowly opening my eyes again. After 10 seconds, two very clear red lines formed right before my eyes. Without exaggeration, I felt my whole life change.
“Carlo, come here for a while,” I said to my husband who was eating his breakfast. He had no idea I took a test so he was completely clueless! I showed him the test stick and the next thing I knew, we were both hugging and crying inside the bathroom with so much joy and with one dominant question flashing through both our minds—“We’re pregnant, now what?”
Being pregnant for the first time (or even for the nth time) during a pandemic is far from the ideal situation. On top of learning how to properly care for a little human inside my womb, there’s also adjusting to the work from home setup, disinfecting groceries and packages, covering everyday chores, and monitoring the news for COVID-19 updates. Behind the layers of protection I put on my face and body, there seems to be nothing that can mask the worry I have for my family.
My OB-Gyn told me to do a Transvaginal Ultrasound a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Before the clinic could grant me an appointment, I had to answer an online health survey to ensure that I didn’t have any COVID-19 related symptoms. When the day of my appointment came, I was required to wear a face mask, a face shield, and plastic boots upon entering the clinic. All the doctors and technicians were also wearing their protective gears so it felt like I entered a spaceship with none of the passengers talked to each other and no one could see each other’s faces.
Of course, I was giddy inside because I’ll finally get to see the life that is forming inside my womb, but no one could tell. They led me to the ultrasound room covered in plastic. There was also plastic separating the doctor and me, as if the full PPE gear was not alienating enough. The ultrasound started and I saw a little heart beat so fast. That moment was so surreal that I fogged up my face shield. “Hi Baby!” I said out loud, wishing my husband was there with me to share the moment. No companions are allowed during any procedure during a pandemic.
My husband hasn’t met my OB-Gyn yet and I’m already in my second trimester. In the hospital where I’m consulting, companions are not allowed. I asked permission to take videos during my ultrasound so he could see his baby at least through a video recording. To be honest, this is not how I imagined my first pregnancy to be like but I’m still very grateful for the opportunity to be part of this kind of miracle.
Pre-pandemic, there are more options a soon-to-be mom can choose from if she decides to give birth inside a hospital. There was an option to do a water birth and different birthing packages were set in place to make it easier for couples. Now that we are in a pandemic, birthing packages are not available(at least for the hospital I’m consulting in), which means that couples will pay for items and services separately, making the bill slightly bigger.
If there’s one good thing this situation has brought to soon-to-be moms is that staying at home all the time really helps especially during the first trimester. My “morning sickness” always happened in the afternoon during the first three months. I would feel extra sleepy after lunch and find myself next to the toilet, face down, after an hour or so. I can’t imagine dealing with all of my pregnancy symptoms if I was reporting for work in the office.
It’s also a blessing to be at home with my husband every single day. Though he can’t be with me during my ultrasounds, he is with me during every dizzy spell, every trip to the vomit room, and during moments when I feel my body changing and transforming. I go through it and he is by my side every step of the way. For this blessing, I am very grateful.
It’s very easy to be fed by all the negativity our world is serving us for breakfast everyday. It’s daunting just to leave the safety of our homes, we pile up on protective gears, and we cancel all physical celebrations and make it seem like a thing of the past. But what is bringing me back into perspective and allowing me to stick my head above the water of worry is this tiny human being that brings all hope, not just to me and to my husband, but to friends and family as well. It reminds me that despite everything bad, there is something good and beautiful that is promised to us. Oh, I can’t wait!