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What It’s Like to Be 35 Weeks Pregnant During a Global Pandemic

Augusta Rizzardini
Yeah, the coronavirus sucks. But it especially sucks when you're due to give birth.

Are you sick of hearing about the coronavirus yet? I don’t care. We're gonna talk about something different. I am a pregnant person — a 35-weeks-pregnant person to be exact — and if you think it’s crazy figuring out life with a novel disease on the rise, you should try living through COVID-19 season with a novel being growing inside you. My hormones are as extreme and ever-changing as everyone’s opinions on whether or not we should panic.

I'm not here to give you more research, data or statistics. There will be no disease comparisons or ignorant flu-related comments. Instead, here are some mildly incoherent thoughts and concerns on what it’s like to be 35 weeks pregnant, living in Dallas and surrounded by a viral disease pandemic.

If you are not my OB doctor, it’s crazy, but I actually don’t want to hear your opinion!

Elbow to table, hand to head, please tell me more about something you read on the internet related to pregnancy and the coronavirus. In my own research, I find even trusted sources to be a little contradictory and a lot frustrating. Am I not a greater risk than any other healthy young adult or am I immuno-compromised and more susceptible to respiratory infections? My OB says it’s too early to truly know the impact and to be as cautious as possible. Your doctor or midwife may say something different.

All to say, pregnant women don’t need other people’s opinions, period, but I digress. While it’s likely that a mother who tested positive would survive and not pass the disease in delivery, it’s still anything but encouraging to consider the idea of being isolated from your newborn.

Should my birth plan change from hospital gown to at-home flower crown?

As more confirmed cases rise in DFW, so do the well-meaning inquiries from others on where I plan to deliver. I’ve joked often that my birth plan is “an epidural and pinot noir” and I’m still over-killing that joke, because that’s still my plan — but the question lingers: Should I opt for a home birth to avoid germs and God-knows-what at the hospital?

The question lingers: Should I opt for a home birth to avoid germs and God-knows-what at the hospital?

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Savannah Whitt, a 25-year-old living in Denton, delivered a healthy baby boy at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Plano on March 12, the day before President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency. She described her delivery as a positive experience with only a few new additions in light of the disease. Nurses asked if she had traveled out of the country in the last two weeks, and the front lobby workers wore face masks.

But she did have one concern. “Now that I have my baby home, my family wants to come see him and we’re not letting anyone come see him. … We’re not letting people come over.”

My husband made an “emergency” grocery run, yet I had anything but canned foods and toilet paper on my mind. Enter a scary world where panic grocery runs and third trimester collide. I added Fritos, cartons of ice cream, Flipz chocolate pretzels and Honey Bunches of Oats cereal to his shopping list. Plus fresh flowers for good measure, which he suspiciously “forgot.” May pregnancy cravings sustain me during this trying time.

Insensitive opinion alert: Coronavirus symptoms sound pretty lovely compared to pregnancy symptoms!
I’m as sympathetic as the next person to flu-like symptoms, I truly am. So it is with all due respect that I ask you the following questions in the likeness of Ken Jeong in The Hangover III:  Did something inside you just kick your rib cage, though? But did you gain 20 pounds last month? But are your nipples turning into unrecognizable creatures who laugh at your fear of them? I’m going on eight months of novel symptoms.  Shortness of breath is a way of life.

My office is requiring all employees to work from home. I! Am! So! Upset!

I know you don’t have to be pregnant to appreciate this one, but listen. I’m peeing about every 30 minutes. I can sit closer to a bathroom at my house, which means I’m not only more productive during the work day, but I’m a happier person overall. And while it’s not totally uncommon for me to wear the same maternity leggings three days in a row to work, or suddenly bust out yoga moves at my desk to stretch my tight ligaments, I prefer to do these things (as well as eat Cool Whip out of the tub) from the comfort of my home.

Not all working pregnant gals are so lucky. A local interior designer (who prefers to remain anonymous) works in an industry that isn’t built for remote execution and is forced to make the call herself.

“I’m still mostly unconcerned as of now," she says about continuing work business as usual with coronavirus on the rise. ... I guess I’d probably prefer my company give a more definitive answer. That way I wouldn’t be questioning or second-guessing my decision and trying to perfectly determine the risk factor,” she said.

Finally, it’s accepted and encouraged, if not an outright order, to not leave my house. With a newborn on the horizon, this was more or less my future whether I liked it or not. But so long as driving (and sitting upright for too long, honestly) feels like I’m suffocating the baby inside me, I’m grateful to be told I can stay home and sprawl out on my left side as much as I feel like it, and it’s not even considered lazy. It’s called “social distancing,” and I’m here to embrace it.

Where was a novel disease during my first trimester?

Last but not least, I deserve a medal for being more or less quarantined without wine. Actually, I’m super averse to wine, so a margarita (or pina colada, if we’re really being honest with our cravings) would be preferred, but the idea is the same.

The world is in shambles all around us, and mama need a drink.