Pregnant in a Pandemic: How I Am (Kinda) Keeping It Together Right Now
The Ervin Family Portrait- Coronavirus Edition
Ok. So, this is NOT how I expected to spend the last trimester of my second pregnancy. What I expected was being able to capture beautiful memories for my clients until I got too big to move: weddings, births, newborns, families, businesses. All of that is on the back burner for now. What I expected was having a set schedule of taking my son to school and then hearing all about his day when I picked him up. What I expected was being able to go on date nights with my husband before Baby #2 gets here. What I expected was seeing all my best friends at my baby shower laughing, eating, and hugging. This. This is NOT what I expected.
But I will say that this has been an experience that will change my view of life from now on. I was a history major in college and I see the historical importance of the time we are in right now. This global pandemic may be the single biggest event we go through in our lives. I am so proud to see my son take every day of this quarantine with his head up and a smile on his face. My grandchildren will ask me one day what it was like during the COVID-19 pandemic. And I can't wait to tell them how my family pulled together and made the best out of the worst world catastrophe that I can remember.
Having said all that, I am not protected from the all the feels that are happening right now. Add a dash of pregnancy hormones, and you have quite the crap-tastic feeling mama some days. Thank God my husband and 6 year old are incredibly understanding. In fact, my son brings me Blue Bell birthday cake ice cream every time I start getting teary. I didn't even train him to do that!
I cry. I worry. I make to-do lists and then do none of the things. I reach out to clients. I FaceTime with friends. I distract myself. I live on social media. I avoid social media. I read my Bible and watch church from my bed. I do home school (as best I can). I entertain the dog. I deep clean my house for the third time this week. I haven't really been outside my house in three weeks. I do all of the things that you are trying to do right now. But here are six ways that I am coping while still trying to grow a human (which God knows isn't easy when there isn't a global shut down going on!). Enjoy and be sure to drop a comment on how you are dealing with all of the crazy right now.
1. Try to have a semi-structured routine
"This is something you can control... when everything feels out of control."
There is not a lot of structure going on in my house right now, I'll admit. But if I can get up around the same time every day, get my son up at a decent time every day, and start drinking my much wanted coffee around the same time every day, then I feel like I'm at least getting the first part right. Your body needs predictability, especially when you are pregnant. This is a hard one for me since there is no school and my sessions are postponed for the foreseeable future. Just trust me, though. Don't turn off all of the alarms yet. This is something you can control in a time when everything feels out of your control.
2. Put on Normal Clothes (and maybe shower?)
"Yes, yoga pants count as real pants."
I know, I know. Who wants to do that when my pajama pants have been my jam for the last few weeks?! Don't worry. I literally just started doing this. I had a nice rotation of "day time" pjs and "night time" pjs. Can anyone relate to that? But God, does freshly cleaned hair and a clean pair of actual clothes feel amazing! You deserve a little self care right now. I think I may even paint my nails today! Before you ask, yes, yoga pants count as real pants. Let's not get crazy here. Or you could really get wild and put some moisturizer and make up on. Your next video conference attendees will thank you.
3. Your Kids Will Be Okay
"Here is what I ask myself everyday: what can he learn from our daily tasks and what character building can I help instill in him?"
For those mamas who already have little ones running around, please try not to put too much pressure on yourself right now. Here is what I ask myself everyday: what can he learn from our daily tasks today and what character building can I help instill in him? Your job as a "home school" mom right now is NOT to fret about whether your first grader can skip count by threes to 100 or perfectly pronounces all of those phonic sounds. Yes, my son's school has home learning packets for him to work on. Yes, we do those. Yes, I help him with these assignments. Yes, we read every day. But I am not going to beat myself up because my son has watched seven episodes of Ninja Turtles and is not doing a Bill- Nye style science experiment in my living room every day.
I am going to take this time to show him what compassion looks like. We talk about who the helpers are around the world right now. We go outside and create games together that are entertaining and might have some math thrown in too. We spend time talking about Jesus and what He expects from us as children of God right now. He helps me with daily chores and he actually knows how to use the vacuum and start the laundry now. What a blessing that will be when baby Conor gets here in July! And we would have never had this time together had it not been for this quarantine. So woo-sah, mama. Nobody is expecting you to do everything right now. Just take it day by day and enjoy those little ones before your crew gets bigger!
4. Social Media is a Necessary, but Overwhelming, Part of Life Right Now
"The weight of this global event is huge. Don't make it any heavier... on purpose."
Social media is a huge part of my business and is also a necessary way to access the latest news regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. This is how I access live news conferences from government officials that tell me if I can work, what type of financial assistance is available if needed, and how the country is handling this right now. It's how I stay in contact with clients, friends, and keep up with the latest funny meme. However, I have made the decision over the last few weeks that I will not wallow in the world of Facebook. My advice is to stay informed, stay entertained with social media, but please don't go down the rabbit hole. I did that a few nights ago and man, did it throw me for a loop. I'm a little bit of a worrier anyway, so to read all of the gut-wrenching articles right now is not helping me create a safe space for my baby. I check the news once a day. I pay attention to important orders from the governor or White House, I do my best to understand the scientific aspect of COVID-19,but I am not training to be an epidemiologist right now. The weight of this global event is huge. Don't make it any heavier in your own head on purpose. Go watch something funny or play a board game with your family. That is much better for controlling my anxiety, especially when wine is out of the picture right now. PS- Carol Baskins totally killed her husband. I mean, I'm just sayin' man.
5. Create something. Anything.
"Being creative... is what makes us uniquely human."
Being a part of the creative world, I love challenging myself to come up with something that my clients love and I am proud of. For me, being creative is just as important as eating balanced meals, taking my prenatal vitamins, and exercising. It's calming for me, which makes me a better mom, wife, and baby grower-person. Photography is my way of working out my brain and I try to get better at it every time I pick up my camera. For another example, my mother is an INCREDIBLE pianist. She teaches piano out of her home and is really missing her students right now. She hadn't written any new music in a while, but the other day we did a group call with my brother and she played us a brand new tune! It felt so good to hear her play something original of hers.
You may have other ways of being creative. Maybe you are a killer hair braider and have turned your little girls into life size Barbies while stuck at home (come on, Girl Moms. I see you!). Maybe you love to bake or cook. That's how my husband relaxes and I get to enjoy all his delicious creations. Maybe you are not a world class painter or anything, but you can draw stick figures like a champ! Just spend some time right now flexing your creative muscle. You never know what you'll really get into. Sewing, drawing, music, fashion, make up tutorials, website design, basket weaving, gardening. The list is endless. Even Pinterest Fails count as being creative! I love seeing what people create. Decorating that sweet nursery is a great to be creative and productive. Plus, you get to start on that all important baby registry too. Creativity is what makes us uniquely human. Feel free to send me what you and your family are creating right now.
6. Don't be Afraid to Vent (AKA It's OK to Cry)
"In some form or fashion, we are all going through the same fears and anxieties together."
I've said it already, but it bears repeating. Pandemic + Quarantine + Pregnancy Hormones = Crazy Person. Sometimes there is no amount of self care, neighborhood walk, or weird tiger trainer shows that can take you away from the reality of it all. I get it mama. And that is okay. By holding in our worries or concerns 24/7, we are setting ourselves up for emotional failure. Plus, we are entitled to have our feelings validated, no matter what crazy, life altering situation we find ourselves in. In the immortal words of Elsa, we have to "let it go" sometimes. Talking to a partner, a parent, a pastor, or a pal really does help right now. In some form or fashion, we are all going through the same fears and anxieties together.
Pregnant mamas are in a unique position, though, because we know we eventually have to bring that baby into this weird world. I know that is one of my big worries right now. I spent all day yesterday with that hanging out in the back of my head. I finally let it all fly out at 2am yesterday to my half-awake husband. We talked about worries we both have, both financially and as expectant parents. We discussed contingency plans in case the hospital changes its policies. We both teared up because it felt good to be open and honest. It's not very often that you can get a 6'2" polar bear of a man to shed a tear, but I married the sweet and sensitive polar bear and so thankful I did! Your OB or midwife can be another great place to send your medical concerns to. Telemedicine and online contact have been a huge comfort to me lately. Not ready to put it all out there? Journaling and prayer are great ways to give your worries away without being emotionally exposed. God wants to hear your anxieties, so spend some time with Him. He's a pretty incredible listener.
I hope that I was able to give you some positive ways to handle being pregnant during this weird moment in time. Most of these can be utilized in non-pregnant people's lives (but I bet they get to have a few more cocktails to cope than us mamas do!). Nobody has this figured out. We are all just trying to make this the best experience we can for ourselves, our families, and our unborn bubs. This too shall pass. But in the mean time, give yourself some grace and enjoy all the chocolate you can put your hands on. You are doing a great job, mama. Trust me. I know it.
Copyright Julia Ervin Photography 2020
Visit www.juliaervinphotography.com for more information and to inquire about future sessions.
Julia Ervin is a family photographer based in Brenham, Texas. She specializes in newborns, families, Seniors, and weddings. She is married to her wonderful husband, Michael, and enjoys spending time with their energy-filled, silly, big-hearted son, Cormac. The Ervins are excited to be welcoming their second son in Summer 2020. She also has a very useful assistant named Otis who specializes in bone chewing, ball fetching, giving kisses, and romping across the backyard. Life is good, God is good, All is good!