After Losing My First Baby, I'm Scared Of Delivering Alone
In 2017, Callie K. carried a child for 23 weeks before losing him. She fell pregnant two years later, in late 2019. This pregnancy has been a bumpy ride — she spent eight days on a feeding tube in her second trimester due to hyperemesis gravidarum — and then COVID-19 hit the United States. Here is how things shifted after that. As told to Jamie Kenney.
Three weeks ago, my doctor told me to prepare for the possibility that I would deliver in a strange hospital. COVID-19 has changed many things about my prenatal care and June 12 birth plan. Some area hospitals, my OB told me, may be designated "COVID hospitals" and others "Labor and Delivery." She said she and her partners would soon designate one of them to be a "hospital person," another a "clinic person," and so on, so I would soon be seeing different care providers than I'd been used to. She assured me that I would be delivered by an MD, as my previous loss, age, and hyperemesis gravidarum diagnosis label me high risk.
Three weeks ago is also when my husband was banned from my OB visits. I did panic a bit before my last ultrasound because I knew I’d be alone if there was bad news. It’s hard when you’re used to getting bad news, but my spouse has been with me every time before. Now it's very much, like, you're all alone. You're responsible for your baby and it's all on you. I was very relieved after the 20-week anatomy scan because the baby was OK. But also a bit mad at the world.
The thing I’m most scared about is delivering without my husband. My doctor told me flat-out my mom can’t be there, which felt like a big loss, but she said my husband could be, depending on what's going on in June. When my first son passed away, I got rolled back into delivery alone. The thought of doing it again is very triggering, except this time I’ll be awake the whole time.
Now it's very much, like, you're all alone. You're responsible for your baby and it's all on you.
I keep telling myself that the only option is radical acceptance — I have no control over a global pandemic so I just have to do the best I can. I’ve gone through a lot already with this pregnancy and this kid and I’ll deliver him alone with strangers if I have to. At least I let go of the idea of “fair” after my first son died. I don’t waste time with “Why me? Why my pregnancy?”
When I chose everything for this kid, it was me choosing the best. So I’d like to stay with that. I never considered a home birth; I don’t believe in home birth. When your baby dies, you learn that things can and do go wrong. The only things changing for me are things out of my control — doctor, hospital. If those change it won’t be because I changed it. I think banning spouses from the delivery does more harm than good. And I can’t have a doula now — those things upset me. But again, I will do what I have to do. I have already signed up for an epidural, though. I literally was like, write that in my chart. I got nothin' to prove.
My husband and I have benefited from a boatload of therapy. I recommend therapy with a pregnancy or child loss specialist to all loss parents. Find someone with experience. When you lose a child, people say it brings you closer or it drives you apart. And I think losing our son brought us closer. The idea of him not being there for this child’s birth is almost unthinkable. This is our baby. We did IVF together, he cared for me through my illness, we are a team.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.