Our Pandemic Year

Photo by Amy Harrity

This Photographer Documented 8 Women’s Pandemic Pregnancies

“It takes a village,” but in COVID, there’s no village.”

Amidst social unrest and a global pandemic, I was inspired to create images of mothers. The project, born out of my own pregnancy, became a way for me to create continuity around my private experience and the realities of our current social context.

The intimacies of mother and child, the emotional and physical contours of my subjects, and the shared experiences of impending maternity, became a balm for the disembodiment of our individual isolation. Though our shared vulnerability was constant, I was able to find hope: together our common struggles could create new life.

Nicole Stark and her son, Elliot

Nicole Stark, who says she has had countless late night messaging sessions on social media with mom friends while up breastfeeding. “Even though we haven’t all been able to gather in person, the support I’ve received and the kinship I feel is powerful. We may have had to stay apart, but there's no keeping us separate.”photo by Amy Harrity

"The instinct I had since the day I learned my baby would be joining my life was to reach out to other mothers. Postpartum, the craving for fellow moms in my life has gotten even stronger. My 5 month old is now so engaged with the world. He smiles at everyone and grabs everything he can get his hands on. I long deeply for him to have little baby peers. I would love nothing more than to sit and talk through the challenges of postpartum and insights of motherhood with friends while our babies roll around together on the rug."

Jessi M’Bengue

“He is my blessing among the chaos.”photo by Amy Harrity

"Being isolated at such an important moment of my life felt daunting, but it's also helped my partner and I bond more, and prepare ourselves together for parenthood without any added distractions. I feel like if you can survive pregnancy hormones being locked inside the house with me 24 hours a day, you must really love me."

Photo by Amy Harrity
Photo by Amy Harrity
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"Meeting with the doula, outside with masks on, was hard. It’s such an intimate thing. And laboring with the mask — you look up at your partner and you’re just like ‘What are they thinking and what are they feeling?’” You really want to see faces and read feelings and so that was hard for me."

"Postpartum, you’re used to people coming over and being like ‘Oh my gosh I can’t wait to meet him’ and holding the baby and gushing, and you get to have that moment of ‘Look at this thing that we made. And now it’s all on FaceTime and it just doesn’t hit the same.”

Aubrie Pick, whose daughter, Romy, was born in February

Aubrie Pick photographed by Amy Harrity, who said she aimed to get photos of people late in pregnancy, “But when you're in that kind of last month, it's just like you never know what's going to happen. So there were some women I was talking to where I was like, "Let's do it." And they were like, "Actually, I'm having contractions this morning, you can't come photograph me."
"There was connection, but it was at arms length."

"My husband Erik and I decided on a 6-week no visitors policy, which will hopefully give all of the grandparents time to get vaccinated before coming to visit and let Romy's immune system have some time to build up. But it's a hard boundary to set and maintain, especially after a year of relative isolation. While the danger and unknowns of the virus were scary and loomed large, it was the isolation of social distancing and quarantine that was the biggest challenge for me. There was connection, but it was at arms length."

Emma K Larsen

Emma Larsen photographed by Amy Harrity, who says, “The project was kind of born out of that grief and sadness, but for me, shooting this and meeting these other women kind of brought me to the other side of it too, and I found a lot of hope in that. I found a lot of hope in being able to bring new life into the world during such a dark period.”

"Although I love sharing all the experiences of life with family and friends, it has felt a little more private going through pregnancy during a pandemic. It’s nice to really just have a lot of time to reflect with my husband and bask in the excitement, just the two of us. Also, when work slowed down it coincided perfectly with all the bed ridden days of morning sickness so I am grateful for that.”

“Being pregnant can a lot of times feel very lonely as it's a singular experience,” says Juliette. “No one else is feeling what it’s like to fully and completely relinquish control of your body so that you can grow a human."
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"I began seeing my parents on an almost daily basis and while my community of friends may have been temporarily suspended I was able to grow very very close to my parents, which I am beyond grateful for. I seriously don’t know that I could have done the first two months [of my daughter’s life] without the help of my family, in particular my mother. She moved in for six weeks and basically guided my husband and I into parenthood.”

Marley Taylor and Jahji, who was born in September

Marley Taylor said the biggest challenge during pregnancy this year was the heightened sense of protectiveness, at a time when you're already on high alert.

"Pretty quickly my circle of people I was exposed to was just getting smaller and smaller and smaller and then it was just like pretty much people who could protect the sanctity of being pregnant. During a pandemic, you just know so clearly who's being in service to your motherhood and who's not."

Natalie Tyree

Natalie Tyree by Amy Harrity. “Shooting it was really amazing because post-pregnancy it's created this really great virtual community...We've totally done things like that, kind of shipping each other clothes or leaving out things for each other on each other's doorsteps.”

“I found out I was pregnant only two weeks before Los Angeles was shut down and it all definitely didn’t fit the picture I’d imagined in my head. My baby shower was a drive-by, no hospital visits … Even though we would do backyard visits, there weren’t the hugs and belly rubs that I really wanted. Now that my baby is born, the most difficult part still is seeing my family less. There’s the saying, “It takes a village," but with COVID, there’s no village."

Photography by Amy Harrity

Post Production by ink Retouch

Casting Support by Cast Partner

Additional reporting by Jamie Kenney