On July 22, my wife and I welcomed our first child – a happy, healthy boy – into the world.
Despite nearly nine months of lead up, our son’s arrival was still somewhat of a surprise. He was born 18 days early – so early, in fact, that his astrological sign is completely different. This caught us a little off guard, as minor preparations we had put off suddenly had to be completed in a hurry.
I imagine giving birth to your first child is a major change no matter what the circumstances. In our case, continued precautions due to COVID-19 added an extra dimension to the experience.
Rather than deliver in Calgary, we opted to go to Olds for our son’s birth. Under the current policies at that hospital, my wife was only permitted two designated visitors during her stay. I was one, and she chose her mother as her other visitor. The rest of our families – my parents, her dad, our siblings – had to be satisfied by infrequent text updates throughout the day.
During our stay in the hospital, masks were also required. This meant I spent the entire day wearing an uncomfortable face-covering while my wife endured labour. Of course, my discomfort was nothing compared to the pains she experienced.
With a baby born as early as ours, there are certain health conditions that require monitoring. In our case, jaundice was a particular concern. While other families who gave birth at the same time were discharged, we were held in the hospital for several days to ensure our boy was healthy. Each day became a cycle of raised hopes and expectations as we promised our families they would soon meet their new grandson and nephew, followed by disappointment when we told them we still had not been discharged.
Once we were eventually allowed to return home, the pandemic continued to loom in the background. If either of us contracts COVID-19, it impacts our ability to visit the doctor for important check-ups. Because of this, and the natural worries that accompany being a new parent, we’ve taken a very cautious approach.
We make anyone who visits wash their hands thoroughly. My brother, who flew in from Regina, still has not visited his nephew without wearing a mask, as we try to protect against anything he may have picked up at the airport. Our photos of our son’s first days prominently feature masked individuals.
As we’ve looked back at those photos, we’ve remarked how odd it will one day appear to him that he came into a world where masks, hand washing and social distancing were the norms. Those photos will be a time capsule of this unprecedented period into which he was born.