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(Image: The Turulja Family)

Expecting During a Pandemic: The Turulja Family

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 or reach out on Instagram @June.In.January to be featured.

Based in Mill Creek, Dino and Lita Turulja have one kiddo, 3-year-old Dario, and another boy on the way (due September 25, 2020). Pregnancy, as many know, can be equal parts joyful and challenging. Ok, not necessarily even equal parts, for some! Now throw a pandemic into the mix...that's a game changer.

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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?
Lita Turulja: I am just about 12 weeks and so excited to share news with family and friends! Then...COVID hits, and that is all anyone can focus on.

Take us forward from there. Expecting moms/dad - what were you thinking/feeling? What kind of prep/worries did you have that you either didn’t have with other kids, or you didn’t anticipate having?
All the feelings, mostly how do I keep myself safe to protect my unborn baby. So little was known, so the thoughts of passing anything or the harm while pregnant was (and still is) scary. I had a relatively complicated pregnancy and delivery with my first so I was really looking forward to smooth sailing. In some ways it has been because of how little interaction I've had with healthcare providers and the general public - in other ways just new worries like, what if the second wave hits right when I need to give birth? Is it safe to go to a hospital? Will my husband be allowed to be with me? All those fun thoughts.

For those pregnant at home during isolation, can you tell us about what that’s been like - both good and bad?
Pregnant at home 24/7 with a toddler does in fact suck as**. We live in a townhome so would heavily rely on near by parks and trails to get a change of scenery and give my active toddler space to run. With things closed we have had to get creative with more indoor activities.

What have been your biggest joys during this time?
Breakfast. Pre-pandemic we would literally all race out the door with no breakfast and no time for anything. Now our schedules are so flex that we can plan to have some time to eat together as a family. Usually that means I get up before everyone, put in a few work hours, make breakfast for Dario and get to sit and eat with him before he is off to preschool. Being pregnant it is a joy to wear yoga pants EVERY DAMN DAY, or no pants should you feel inclined - instead of my normal business casual attire for work. Along those lines it is also nice to be able to work where I am most comfortable: a recliner, my desk for a few hours or in bed if it is a "feeling the pregnancy" kind of day and also nice to take breaks to go for short walks.

What are your biggest fears/worries during this time?
The expectation to return to normal life. Being in quarantine was an adjustment that took time to find out what worked and didn't. I would hope that for the sake of my routine and my child's routine that there would be more flexibility in the workplace to allow me to support the nice work/life balance I have found in quarantine. Another hurdle has been medical care. My OB is out of Evergreen Hospital, the epicenter of the outbreak. So getting appointments and feeling like I am getting the same level of care as my first pregnancy has been difficult. I have had appointments canceled, moved to tele-visits or postponed. I have also not been able to share the happy moments with my loved ones. Requirements of just myself go to my appointments has made me feel like I am in a lot of it alone. I recorded our babies heartbeat for my husband to hear since he wasn't at the visit. I also was in a car accident at 10 weeks which was right at the start of the pandemic, and shutdown. My access to providers and care has been beyond limited. Restrictions in place to protect "at risk" populations also meant that I had to go without treatment or would have to wait a very long time to get in for appointments due to other priorities.

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When your new baby asks you about what it was like having him during the Pandemic of 2020, what are you going to tell him?
You are so lucky to have been inside the belly for the rough parts, because it was an utter disaster of a time for so many people. I will tell him that for our family, we were blessed enough to not get laid off (at least as of today), we were always able to get everything we needed even when there were shortages, and that we rather enjoyed the time together at home with no obligations to attend parties, gatherings, or anything for that matter. It was quite liberating to know that you missed out on nothing since the rest of your social network was also at home doing the same thing.

Final Update: Where do things stand now? How is the entire family?
Currently we are good, 28 weeks along and getting to things prepped for baby #2. Finding it hard to decorate a nursery without going to stores and also minor inconveniences of delays in items arriving that you may want or need. But honestly feeling blessed to be employed and healthy.

For people whose loved ones are giving birth, pregnant, bringing a baby home, or pausing fertility treatments/adoption proceedings right now - what can you do to support from afar?
Don't make every conversation about Coronavirus, politics or the latest headline. Out of sight, out of mind has been huge and I think loved ones need to remember that going through a major life event without your family and friends close by can be incredibly lonely. We are missing our support system, we are missing baby showers, ... friends stopping by to help clean your house, or make a meal or just listen. A note, a text, a pie at our door is always a nice way to show you care. I have been fortunate to have some amazing friends show me their care with simple things like bread at my door or a bouquet of makes all the difference.

And to other families reading this, going through something like this themselves - any words of encouragement, support or advice?
Embrace the season. It's an opportunity to spend time mentally preparing for the next phase of your life whatever that might be. Get fresh air and don't be afraid to turn a conversation about you! It is ok to remind your circle that you are going through a major event and that you need support even if they don't see you everyday and are reminded of it.