‘It’s the worst possible time to have a child.’ The virus was expected to peak right on our due date.’: New parents welcome rainbow baby in the midst of global pandemic

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“As we entered the hospital to see the obstetrician, we were surrounded by the smiles of pregnant women and their significant others. When most people think about visiting the obstetrician, there are thoughts of newborn babies and echoes of giggling in the distance. For us, it was hard to think of anything but the news we were likely to receive that day. My wife’s hormone levels had not increased accordingly, and we were in the midst of a miscarriage.

The dim lighting of the room matched the bare image on the ultrasound and shortly afterward, the doctor explained to us what had happened. I couldn’t imagine what that moment was like for my wife. To feel your body changing and a life growing inside of you only to lose it so suddenly is something that truly cannot be replicated by words. We had been trying for a year and this was like seeing the finish line of a marathon, only to suddenly break a leg the last quarter mile.

For the following weeks, I played a guessing game, not knowing how to react or the right words to say. I had no idea how to support my wife through this. I knew from my research women often blamed themselves for miscarriages, wondering if they could’ve done something different. The only thing I could tell her was, ‘It’s not your fault and we’ll try again.’ Life just happens sometimes and it’s not the fault of anyone. We just have to keep our head up, eyes forward, and keep moving.

The Arrival of Baby Gabriel

When we finally got pregnant again, we were ecstatic because miscarriages can cause complications for future pregnancies. As the calendar turned to 2020 and we celebrated the New Year and the coming decade together, we, like most others, were hopeful. We hoped the new year would bring health and happiness for our friends and family, and bring us a healthy baby boy.

As March approached and our due date was a month away, the country was struck with COVID-19 and it was expected to peak right on our due date in early April. The timing of life is funny sometimes, if not ironic. You try so hard for something and finally get it, only for a global pandemic to strike. It was the worst possible time to have a child, as the virus had killed thousands of people and had yet to even peak in the United States. Signs of a recession, if not depression, were present. It was another layer to the already anxious feelings of childbirth. Life certainly seems to have a sense of humor at the worst of times, but we can only control so much in this world and the rest is left up to fate.

That being said, there are no words to express the gratitude I have for the essential workers currently fighting this pandemic and providing other services to us – whether it’s cleaning, delivering packages, or making sure people have fresh groceries. The essential workers at the hospital, from nurses to doctors and even sanitation (as they’re too often forgotten in the mix), made us feel at ease as much as they could.

We were scheduled to be induced on Thursday, April 9 at 10 p.m. The hospital, however, was backed up with medically necessary labors or women who had gone into labor naturally. After two days of checking in by phone every few hours, we were finally induced at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 11th, and baby Gabriel finally arrived on Sunday, April 12th.

Courtesy of David Cheng
Courtesy of David Cheng
Courtesy of David Cheng

The entire experience was a whirlwind and it’s something I’m never going to forget. I went from seeing the top of the baby’s head to him rushing out with his umbilical cord. And I will never forget hearing him for the first time. His first cry still echoes through my mind a few times a day, and the image I have of seeing him for the first time is burned into my brain in the best of ways. It’s indescribable to think how this human being didn’t exist a year ago and now he’s breathing, eating, and pooping (a lot!).

Courtesy of David Cheng

The truth is, nothing will prepare you for parenthood. Two weeks into this experience now, and it’s just starting to hit me that I’m a father. It was so surreal at first and you don’t quite get what it means to be a parent right away until you change enough dirty diapers and go through enough sleepless nights.

Courtesy of David Cheng

Being a new parent is really hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m not even doing the hardest work. I’m trying my best to take care of my wife while she and Gabriel try and get breastfeeding down and get some sleep in between. I don’t know how she does it. I’m honestly in awe. The less sleep I get, the more I’m amazed by all the single parents out there. I have no idea how they do this on their own. The wife and I had a discussion this week on parenting. From the moment you’re pregnant, especially in Asian culture, people are going to tell you what to do: what to eat, how much to sleep, liquids to drink (water, tea, etc), and then how to raise your kids once they’re here. There’s obviously no playbook to parenting. There are plenty of parenting books to prepare you for what a kid does (like how much babies sleep and eat) but as far raising a child, there’s no magic formula and there’s no step-by-step program to raising a perfect child. The question we want to ask ourselves is: Are we prioritizing the child’s needs before anything else? What’s best for him? Are we doing this out of love? Are we going to push him to be the best possible person? We’re new at this parenting thing but I think if we keep these things in mind, we’ll be okay. For now, we’ll take all the challenges head-on together and continue to learn something new every day. Nothing is going to prepare us for the next eighteen years.

The truth is, though, there’s nothing I’d change.”

Courtesy of David Cheng

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by David Cheng from Philidelphia, PA. 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.

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