I got lucky that Baby K was born right before the pandemic shutdown began. But even when pregnant during the end of 2019 and early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic was becoming more and more scary, and masks were given at my doctor’s visits. When Baby K was born in early February after my emergency c-section, I decided I wanted to self-quarantine with just my little family of three but I wasn’t thinking about the possibility of getting the virus. Instead, I was thinking that just a few weeks would be just the time we needed to bond as a family, learn the ropes of taking care of a newborn, and to recover without the added stresses of friends and family coming to visit.
I never expected that a worldwide pandemic would extend those few weeks into 7 months of quarantine. For Kelvin and I, getting the hang of parenthood without any outside support was really tough at times, but also one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences ever. I had always been nervous about what I would be like as a mom, and being the eternal Virgo perfectionist, alway afraid to fail. But we managed to make it through the toughest times (which imo were the hospital days and our first 2 weeks home), some rough times (like sleep regressions and hourly feedings), and cherish the great times!
Now our little squish is super happy and healthy, rolling over, sitting up, smiling, babbling, and brings so much joy to our lives. And while we are still dealing with the everyday stresses from the Covid 19 pandemic AND raging California wildfires that have covered the air with smoke, we are making the most of it and trying to stay as safe as possible.
Here are my top tips on how to keep your sanity as a new mom during a pandemic.
Create a Flexible Schedule
The first few weeks were a blur. With a newborn, you are in survival mode, and we were responding to Baby K’s cues (hunger, sleep, diaper changes) on demand and that’s pretty normal. But by the second month or so, the one thing I figured out that works great for babies is to have a schedule. And by month 3, we had created a nap/play schedule that wasn’t rigid, but it allowed us to carve out time for naps and play time. I also tried to close my eyes and nap during those times too because sleeping is rough when you have a new baby!
Reserve Time For Yourself
Sometimes it could be the smallest thing like asking your partner to watch the baby so you can take a shower and have 20 minutes of time to yourself. I know that it doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you are so sleep deprived and barely even have time to brush your teeth, it can make a huge difference. As a new mom, we tend to forget about ourselves, but in order to have a happy healthy baby, we have to be happy and healthy too! Often partners don’t realize that you need help unless you ASK.
Getting fresh air and exercise can be a great stress reliever and wonderful for your physical health. And it’s also the perfect activity to maintain social distance. Being in a relaxing environment and enjoying nature is not only therapeutic for you, but also great for baby! I’ve discovered Baby K’s love for nature and his natural ability to observe his surroundings with curiosity and excitement. Being able to get out of my tiny apartment has definitely helped with feelings of anxiety and stress and into a better mindset of optimism and happiness. And I love being able to spend time with my baby in a healthy and safe way!
Whether it be signing up for a food delivery service, hiring someone to help clean, or even hiring a postpartum doula, if you can afford it, I would really recommend getting help. Because of the pandemic, we ended up getting a food delivery service because it was the easiest and least contact for us. It made a huge world of difference because carving out time to cook can be tough, but moms and dads need to eat! But several mom friends whose babies were born around the same time hired a postpartum doula, and they raved about the experience. Being able to learn from a seasoned professional, have help with the baby, and someone to allow both mom and dad to nap was definitely a game changer!
Video Chat With Friends and Family
Even if you can’t see them in person, being able to video chat with those closest to you is important. Most of us have friends and family who are sad to be missing out on the new baby, but staying connected is the best way to share milestones and feel more connected. Our closest friends and family started doing Zoom chats with us to keep in touch and watch Baby K grow. We even had a fun little 6 month Zoom half birthday celebration!
Know that it’s OK to feel different emotions at different times
Feeling different emotions, whether they be sadness, loneliness, anxiety, or anger is completely normal. This pandemic has affected so many people in different ways from losing touch with their loved ones, to losing jobs, and just feeling sad that life is so different now. Especially with a new baby, it’s OK to feel all of these emotions and feel disapointment that you are now unable to do many of the things you planned. Rather than bottle up your emotions, it’s always great to have an outlet for them. Whether it be keeping a journal, blogging, talking to a friend, or just having a long cry — know that your emotions are normal.
Sign up to work with a mental health professional
Baby blues or postpartum depression is very real, and even if you don’t have it, talking to a mental health professional can make a world of difference. Often, we are so focused on our emotions that we are unable to manage our every day lives, and that’s where a mental health professional can step in and create ways of coping to ensure that you and baby are taken care of. For example, my good friend Vida is a psychotherapist that works with many postpartum women. She is able to help them overcome their feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image post delivery, hopelessness and much more so that they can live happy and fulfilling lives even amidst a world that has entered seemingly dark and uncertain times. She views mothers and women as individuals that must learn to love and empower themselves with the right tools so that they can be strong and emotionally available for their children at every age and stage. And cultivating and building a woman’s self-esteem and resilience is key to getting into a better mental space.
Motherhood is a whole new world we need to learn to live and thrive in. It is indeed possible to survive motherhood within a global pandemic with the right motivation, determination, learned skills, and inner wisdom that can be acquired along the way. Caring for ourselves, including physical health, mental health, and emotional well being, is an important consideration as we begin and end our day loving and caring for our babies from the minute they are born.
While the future is uncertain, things will get better. Remember that you are doing an amazing job, and you and your baby are lucky to have each other. Hopefully we will all look back on this time as a brief moment in history, and this too, shall pass.