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Opinion | We Were Promised a Village: A Year in the Life of Pandemic-Baby Parents

It’s an odd thing to admit, but having a baby has provided a radical simplifier for life during a pandemic. — Bryan Boyer, Detroit

My second child was born early on in the pandemic. Time has mutated: creeping and galloping in the same hour. What strikes me is that becoming a family used to be a social act; friends and community shaped our family. This was certainly the case with my first child, who sparked endless conversations, went many places and was held by so many people in her first year. By contrast, my second child has been held by immediate family only, has seen friends and neighbors through masks and has never been in a restaurant, bus or child care center. Our world, and his, is much smaller. I’m hopeful that we can gradually begin to grow back. — Ashley Telman, Chicago

My wife, a social worker at a hospital, tested positive for Covid in March when she was 33 weeks pregnant. When her symptoms worsened, doctors recommended that she have a C-section, and our son was born that evening. I was not allowed to be with her in the hospital. I don’t think I have ever been as scared as I was that evening, fearing the worst and not being able to do anything about it.

The C-section was successful in taking pressure off my wife’s lungs and she recovered and was able to come home four days later. Our son was in the neonatal intensive care unit for the next 22 days. Neither of us was allowed to visit him. The nurses did their best to help, sending pictures and making Zoom calls, but it was still a very difficult time.

He is now 1, and happy and healthy. But the circumstances of his birth affected us profoundly. — Christopher Brown, Covington, Wash.

Having a baby during the pandemic was very stressful and isolating — I wasn’t sure if the hospital was safe; I wasn’t able to have my mother as my doula. But it was also healing. No visitors there or later at home meant no stressful visitations, hurrying to get dressed or trying to host. I was able to heal physically much quicker than after my first pregnancy.

My baby was a salve to the grief of the pandemic. I often cried over him, and when my husband offered to take him, I’d clutch him close. His love was pure, his smile without fear, his needs simple. That said, I was in weekly therapy for a while to help manage my postpartum depression. — Diane Kerstein, Seattle

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