‘I waddled into every appointment alone. There was no babymoon, no one fawning over my pregnant belly.’: First-time mom gives birth during pandemic, learns ‘what resilience looks like’

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“I wasn’t supposed to have a pandemic baby. I was supposed to have a pregnancy I could flaunt around, one where I could gush about my impending motherhood and soak up every minute of bliss. But sometimes things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes it feels like nothing goes as planned.

My husband and I went through 2 years of infertility treatments, three doctors, and spent tens of thousands of dollars in order to get pregnant. While going through treatments, I didn’t know if it was ever actually going to happen. If I was ever going to get to be pregnant and have my own baby. It became difficult to live that way. I suffered through friends’ baby showers, smiling and congratulating them while wondering, ‘Why not me?’ I would cringe any time I saw a random pregnant woman out in public and turn green with jealousy. I would be assaulted by pregnancy announcements while scrolling through my social media feed and feel happy for them but sad for me. It was incredibly difficult.

Our infertility is my husband’s fault. Fault? You might ask… Yup, fault. Within the infertility community, it is frowned upon to ask the question, ‘Whose fault is it?’ When it comes to the inability to conceive naturally. Most often it is no one’s ‘fault,’ many people are born with the condition that has rendered them infertile, or have survived cancer, suffered an accident, or are perhaps LBGTQ+. Not in my husband’s case. My husband was a competitive bodybuilder for years. Anyone from that world will tell you the only way to be truly successful is to use steroids. So Bradley abused steroids for years, 10 years in fact. He was chasing a dream and was willing to do anything in order to achieve it. Bradley never thought he would have kids, and he didn’t want them. He didn’t even want to get married. He was happy being single, working out twice a day, and eating chicken breast until the cows came home.

Courtesy of Brittany Goldman

This is the part where I say ‘and then he met me.’ Except that isn’t true. Bradley and I met in high school, about a decade before we started dating and we had been in each other’s lives off and on ever since. When we started dating, I knew about his steroid use and his dreams of becoming a professional bodybuilder but I didn’t know what all of that could lead to. I’d heard the stories of roid rage, acne, etc. but I didn’t know steroid use could cause infertility. It turns out Bradley didn’t really know that either. He knew it could cause azoospermia (no sperm production) but he thought it was easily reversed by some simple medication. He also thought it didn’t happen to most men that used steroids. But it happened to us.

Courtesy of Brittany Goldman

After the most grueling 2 years of our lives, we finally got pregnant and stayed pregnant. I was so excited to finally shop for clothing at Baby Gap, have a celebratory baby shower, and go on the coveted babymoon. I got pregnant at 2 p.m. on Jan 31, 2020. Los Angeles went into lockdown on a Shelter In Place order on March 13, 2020. I hadn’t even announced our pregnancy yet.

At first, we all thought this Coronavirus nonsense would blow over and I had my heart set on a trip to Hawaii in June. As time crept on, it became more and more apparent this was a full-blown global pandemic, the stuff Hollywood zombie movies are made of.

Kinsey Wilder

As a pregnant woman — one who had gone through Hell and Highwater to get there — I was taking it very seriously and hunkering down at home. I didn’t see any family for about a month and each day, my pregnancy bump grew. I couldn’t go shopping for baby clothes or nursery furniture, all the stores were closed. I didn’t get the pregnant woman’s right of passage of having strangers awkwardly touch my belly and tell me their birth horror stories. I didn’t get to have people give up their seats for me or hold open doors. I was going through this pregnancy in private, almost completely alone. It was lonely, isolating, and disappointing.

Kinsey Wilder

Then came the next blow — doctor’s offices were not allowing guests at any appointments. Brad would not be allowed to attend a single prenatal appointment. He missed every ultrasound and never met the doctor that was set to deliver his child into this world. I waddled into every appointment alone, hoping not to get bad news and hoping Brad could see the ultrasound screen well enough over FaceTime. We were beginning to stress about the possibility of the hospital not allowing him into the delivery room when our daughter was born. We knew if either of us tested positive for COVID, they would not allow him to stay with me for the birth, so we became even more stringent about being safe and not getting sick.

There was no babymoon, no shopping in baby stores, and no one fawning over my pregnant belly but I did get an outdoor, socially distanced, fully masked baby shower with 12 people in attendance. My grandparents and in-laws were not able to attend because their age put them at too great of a risk. My sister did an amazing job of putting it all together but it wasn’t the kind of baby shower most new moms dream of.

Courtesy of Brittany Goldman

As time ticked on, I prepared our home and our hospital bags for our baby’s arrival. I still had a month to go and I was secretly hoping the pandemic would miraculously be resolved by then. I really didn’t want to labor in a mask.

Then — BAM — my water broke.

Courtesy of Brittany Goldman

Yet another unexpected twist in our journey to parenthood, our daughter was coming a month early. There were a few hiccups during and after the delivery process but overall, it wasn’t bad at all. I did it fully masked and wasn’t able to have the birth photographer I had always wanted, but Brad was there and he cheered me on every step of the way. That was enough for me. Our baby girl, Kennedy, was born at a very healthy weight and didn’t have to spend any time in the NICU, which was a very pleasant surprise. After a few more days, the three of us went home as a family to the house we had been hunkered down in for 7 months.

Then, the silver lining of this crazy pandemic life showed itself…

Kinsey Wilder

Brad and I were, and have been, able to be home with Kennedy every single day. We share a closeness with her we would’ve otherwise missed out on if it weren’t for us all having to continue to shelter in place. Close friends and family are able to visit her more frequently due to the world still being mostly shut down and their time being freed up. Kennedy is getting to know those closest to us intimately and it is a beautiful thing. We also got 2 weeks alone with just her when we came home from the hospital. Since she arrived so early, no one was ready and they hadn’t been able to isolate or get their standard vaccines before she made her debut. So Brad and I got 2 weeks quietly at home with our new baby before welcoming visitors.

I wasn’t able to conceive the way I had planned on, I didn’t have the pregnancy I had hoped for, my baby didn’t arrive as planned, and the first 6 months of her life have not been the whirlwind of Mommy and Me classes and play dates I had envisioned but I have gotten something beautiful instead — real-time with my daughter, the baby I waited so long for. I have learned about my own strength and what resilience looks like.

Being pregnant and becoming a first-time parent to a premature baby in the middle of a pandemic has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. If this crazy time has taught me anything it is to cherish friends and family and to look for the silver lining in all things. It’s there if you look hard enough.”

Courtesy of Brittany Goldman

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brittany Goldman. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories about infertility here:

‘It’s not good news.’ Our hearts sank. How did I lose both of them at the same time? I didn’t know how much more I could take.’: Couple battles infertility, ‘We aren’t ready to give up.’

‘Oh my gosh, there’s a HEARTBEAT! I’m a MOM!’ The doctor looked puzzled and NOT happy.’: Couple experiences infertility, NICU, ‘I’m enjoying life as a mom’

‘Millions of dollars later, we’re finally home. I get to spend each day with the most amazing 14-pound child imaginable. Dammit, Baby B.’: Family’s amazing journey to overcome infertility

‘Why are you flying with such a young infant?’ He grinned, then walked away. My wife and I exchanged curious looks.’: Flight attendants pay it forward for adoptive couple after 9-year battle with infertility

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