Below is the full text of a submission detailing the experience of one mother who gave birth in the early days of the Covid era, in March of 2020. Please contact Covid Stories Archive if you would like to use or reproduce this essay, in whole or in part, for your research or writing. Also, please consider sharing your own stories for preservation in our archive.
I was due with my 5th child [the last week of March], 2020. I will never forget the fear I felt as we heard news of mothers being forced to give birth without support in other states & how I begged my OB to induce me so my husband can come with me. We were also hearing stories about mothers who were forced to separate from their child because of suspected covid.
In the end, [state name redacted for privacy] declared that moms can have one support person.
I went into labor Saturday morning & gave birth a few hours later. I was forced to labor and push in a mask and they told me I could not remove my mask even if I was in my room alone and sleeping.
The baby nursery was closed so I spent half the night suctioning my newborn with those tiny little blue suction devices as she kept choking on amniotic fluid.
After the Jewish sabbath was over my husband had to leave to pick up my children from where he had left them with a family member. I was fortunate that she agreed to stay with them because there were many people who did not have anywhere to leave their other children with because many people were afraid at that point to be in contact with any other human beings other than their immediate household.
The kosher pantries were closed and my husband asked if he could come back to bring me food and they told him that he was not allowed back in once he leaves. He then asked if he could order me food and send it upstairs as many people had been doing for nurses and doctors but they said absolutely not. In the end he begged a maintenance worker to find me some fruit to eat and for the next 26 hours I subsisted on a box of grapes.
But I think the worst part came when I was discharged. As soon as they did newborn testing 24 hours after birth they kicked me out. It was pouring rain outside and they did not allow my husband to bring in the baby’s car seat which had a coat attached to it. They wheeled me to the inner door and then left me to walk outside in the 40 degree weather and pouring rain with a one day old baby without any winter gear, to the car waiting at the curb.
And once we got home and I tried to make an appointment with my pediatrician they refused to see her for six weeks. She got no vaccinations and when I was worried about an infection at her umbilical cord site they ‘helped’ me over the phone without even being able to see it.
Until this day, when I hear about someone else giving birth my throat closes up and I feel like I cannot breathe.
I am fortunate that I did not catch covid and that my family is all healthy and for my beautiful baby who is now 14 months is happy and thriving.
But the mental and emotional scars that I have from during that time will stay with me for a very long time.
Again, please consider sharing your own stories for preservation in our archive.