The last thing mums-to-be want is to bring their child into a world of uncertainty and chaos but that’s exactly what pregnant women around the world are facing due to Covid-19. I know because I’m one of them.
Two months ago when I first found out I was expecting baby number two, I was elated. I thought to myself, “I wonder if it’ll be a boy or girl?” Turns out, the sex of my unborn child would become the least of my worries as the World Health Organisation declared the Covid-19 crisis a global pandemic due to rising rates of infection, and Singapore saw an upswing in people who were confirmed infected.
Suddenly I was forced to add a viral pandemic to my list of anxieties about having another baby. It’s a surreal time to bring a new life into the world right now. I’m worried about so much more than simply having a healthy and smooth pregnancy. Now, every niggling cough or dust-induced sneeze turns into a thousand thoughts that I won’t be alive to raise my children.
Where I was vigilant about cleanliness before, I’m currently borderline obsessive about washing my hands constantly and not touching my face. I won’t touch lift buttons anymore, instead using my elbows to get to my desired floor. I’ve also long been wearing a mask every time I step outdoors even before it was enforced by the government.
My fears were in part exacerbated by the fact that I contracted the flu shortly after finding out I was pregnant. Weeks of worsening symptoms saw me ordered by my company doctor to undergo the Covid-19 test at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) in mid-March.
An Early Scare
I spent more than three hours at their Urgent O&G centre while doctors listened to my laboured breathing, checked my oxygen levels, conducted an ultrasound to check on my baby’s wellbeing, X-ray’ed my lungs and finally, made me undergo a swab test. I was told to go home to wait out my results, which would only be released an excruciating six hours later.
Imagine… six hours alone with my anxious thoughts at home. I made use of that time by googling Covid-19 pregnancies on the Internet. Big mistake. There were stories of infected pregnant women being induced while in a coma; also, tales of babies being ripped away from their infected mothers and isolated for weeks.
Even though I’m scared – like so many pregnant mamas out there are – I know we’ll get through this together.
The more I googled, the worse I felt. I found accounts of mothers having to give birth alone without support from their loved ones due to tighter visitor restrictions in hospitals, and babies who didn’t make it after contracting the virus themselves. It didn’t make for inspired reading and if anything, left me more fearful than before.
In all the unknowns spinning through my mind, my KKH doctor called. My test came back negative. I had an upper respiratory infection, but it wasn’t Covid-19. I breathed a sigh of relief. In all the uncertainty of the past few months and especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I sometimes go back to this moment, right after I got the call. It reminds me to stop and be thankful.
There are many individuals sick with the coronavirus right now battling for their lives. There are many families who have lost loved ones and are suffering immensely during the pandemic. There are households who can’t afford enough food and basic necessities to survive Singapore’s current circuit breaker, which has been extended to June 1, 2020 putting even more strain on an already dire situation.
When looking at the bigger picture, I am so, so lucky that I get to work from home with my husband and my two-year-old – and that we’re all healthy and safe. I am also lucky that I’m expecting again and I get to carry life within me for a second time.
And even though I’m scared – like so many pregnant mamas out there are – I know we’ll get through this, together. There are everyday heroes out there like frontline healthcare staff, delivery riders, supermarket cashiers, utility providers, social workers and more who are putting their lives at risk so ours can go on as normal.
I think of these heroes when my anxiety levels get a little too high. I’m talking about those days when I feel like I can’t go on juggling work and raising my son, contending with household chores and cooking meals, all while being so tired from the pregnancy too. Days when I pretend to have a stomach ache so I have five extra minutes of alone time in the bathroom. On days like these, those heroes are my saviours. Their strength is the strength I draw on and it’s because of them, mamas, that I think my little one is going to be strong as well.
Text: Natalya Molok