Originally, the idea was to write up one article about welcoming a baby during the pandemic. We put the call out on social media hoping for two or three responses, and waaaaaaay more flooded in! We realized people were feeling alone, wanted to tell their stories, and that this may be a good weekly outlet for others going through similar circumstances, and to give hope and power (even if it's through the screen) that you're not alone! Whether you're expecting, already welcomed a little one, or had to put your fertility treatment or adoption proceedings on hold due to COVID-19, we'd love to hear from you and share your story in this weekly feature on Seattle Refined. Email Kateneidigh611@gmail.com or reach out on Instagram @June.In.January to be featured.
First time parents Ryan Schmidt and McKenna Leehan who live in Port Orchard welcomed baby Ravenna in early February 2020. At the time, they thought how fun it was to have the birth date of 02/02/2020, but little did they know that 2020 would be a crazy first year for their little gal.
Seattle Refined: Ok - let’s set the stage. It’s March 23, 2020 - and the Governor just issued the Stay Home Stay Healthy Order. Where are you in your journey at that point?
McKenna Leehan: Our baby girl was already over a month old, we had been staying home and limiting visitors knowing that COVID-19 was highly contiguous. Our doctor had already warned us that we should limit interactions as much as possible. Ryan’s business closed its doors the week prior and he was laid off work - throwing a wrench into our home purchase. We had just signed a purchase agreement on a house and where looking forward to moving out of our small 2 bedroom apartment, everything was put on hold.
Take us forward from there. What kind of prep/worries did you have that you didn’t anticipate having?
We immediately told family they could no longer come visit us and the baby, in fear of spreading COVID to our new little baby. I was sad that I could not allow our family and friends to hold our little girl. I was and still am very worried that my baby is not going to be comfortable around groups of people and social environments, like grocery stores, restaurants, and parks.
Share with us what you’re willing to about the actual birth. Were partners/parents allowed in the room or to visit? What was your experience like?
On January 30th I went to my scheduled OB appointment and my doc was concerned that my blood pressure was a tad high, before I knew it I was being checked into the hospital to be induced. I was not happy, I had a birth plan and being induced two weeks early was not part of my plan! Thankfully being two weeks early meant that Ravenna was born before the hospitals changed policies about visitors!
For those with newborns at home during isolation, can you tell us about what that’s been like - both good and bad?
I am a first time mom, I expected to take my new baby to visit my friends and family, take her on walks, get her acclimated to the world! Instead baby Ravenna was acclimated to a tiny apartment and seeing family and friends through Zoom and Facetime. It was a struggle living in an apartment with a newborn baby , a blind dog, and a moody cat, with no outlet, we where literally tripping over each other. We spent most of our days held up in the apartment bonding with the baby, taking naps, and eating (my post pregnancy fitness plan was nixed). I am sure the neighbors next to us and beneath us did not enjoy the sounds of a newborn crying all hours of the day and are very happy we moved! We took turns picking up groceries and would take small walks around the block to get some fresh air.
What have been your biggest joys during this time?
We are lucky that we both where able to stay home and spend so much time with Ravenna, experiencing her first smile, laugh, and rolling over! The first months of Ravenna’s life she was with her Mom and Dad 100% of the time. Most parents don’t get that bonding experience.
What are your biggest fears/worries during this time?
We are worried about contracting COVID-19 like most people, also worried about the long term financial impact.
When your daughter asks you about what it was like having her during the Pandemic of 2020, what are you going to tell them?
At times it was great having the endless days to bond and learn about parenthood without having so many distractions, sometimes it was lonely and missed our friends and family.
Final Update: Where do things stand now? How is the entire family?
We purchased a home and moved from our tiny apartment to a home with a yard, we are both back to work, and have family and friends caring for Ravenna while we are at work. Ravenna is a very happy baby and I think it is because she was given so much love and affection the first few months of her life.
For people whose loved ones are giving birth, pregnant, bringing a baby home, or pausing their fertility treatment or adoption process right now - what can you do to support from afar?
Call, Facetime, send care packages, don’t dismiss the stress of frustration they are experiencing, or question the choices they are making to keep their family safe.
And to other families reading this, going through something like this themselves - any words of encourage, support or advice?
Enjoy the time you have with your new baby we wont get these moments back.