• Swati Gautam

Becoming a Mother during a Pandemic

Photo credit: Liv Bruce/Unsplash

While my husband and I were nervous about the approaching arrival of our baby, our families back in India were counting down days to meet their first grandchild. As soon as they got the news, they had their visas processed and the tickets booked. Little did any of us know what lay ahead.

Once other parts of the world started to shut down, we decided to get our parents’ travel preponed as well. However, the very next morning Australia also announced its border shutdown, leaving hardly any time for our parents to make it. We all were left heartbroken.

Then I was told that my husband cannot accompany me to my doctor’s appointments. As if pregnancy wasn’t hard enough, the burden of all these unforeseen circumstances was making life more stressful. The thought of all that would have happened if the rest of the family was here was afflicting. My mother was planning to do a Gode Bharai ceremony (Indian baby shower) for me here which of course didn’t happen, among other things that we had planned so enthusiastically.

Soon, it was time. After spending a sleepless night counting contractions, we left for the hospital. The baby didn’t budge for a whole day and his heart rate was getting slower. The doctor advised a caesarean section. Once in the operating theatre, I shivered like never before, although I’m not sure if it was the extreme air conditioning or my nerves. I started reciting Durga Chalisa (a prayer). Soon later, the baby arrived.

I was given a few seconds to look at him before he was whisked away for checks. I didn’t realise I was in tears until the anaesthetist started wiping them and asked me how I felt. I was speechless.

After spending time in recovery, I saw my husband, worried rather than elated. The baby was in special care due to respiratory distress. I asked to be wheeled over to him and there he was, curled up in a transparent box. It broke my heart to see this tiny human with a tube running down his nose. He was to be monitored. Thankfully, all his reports were positive.

After recovering, we went home -an empty one. The first few months with the baby are a blur to me. I was unkempt, sleep-deprived, and drained. There were moments of panic and fear in the beginning. I remember breaking down from exhaustion too.

They say it takes a village to raise a baby. When we migrated, I knew I would not have my village, but I never imagined that we would not even have our parents by our side. First-time grandparents who lost the opportunity to hold their tiny grandchild, to hear his cooing and grunting, to see him smiling in his sleep. We were hoping they would get to meet him by his first birthday at least but that doesn’t seem likely either.

My heart goes out to all parents who are doing this alone. We’ll sure have a story to tell these ‘Pandemic Babies’.🔥


Apart from being a mom to a sweet little boy, Swati Gautam is a Project manager by profession and a bookblogger by passion. Swati is an avid reader and reviews books regularly. Read more from Swati @theliteratibox (on Instagram and Facebook

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