Pandemic Days

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The day I went in for my first ultrasound with Henry was the day the first patient died in Washington at the hospital where I had given birth to Sofie and planned to give birth to Henry. I didn’t know it at the time. Two days later, I was set to fly out to San Diego with an understanding that I needed to be vigilant washing my hands and not touching my face. I spent four days in California, enjoying the sun, getting inspired by some of the best photographers in the wedding industry, planning the rest of my year, and deciding to change plans for the babymoon I thought I would have in Italy. We created a plan to travel to California instead and spend our money on a maternity session with one of my favorite photographers.

What we came back to was clouds and rain and Ben’s company telling their employees to work from home for the next three weeks. That was the first time it hit me that 2020 wasn’t going to pan out as I had meticulously planned.

After miscarrying March of 2019, Ben and I made very meticulous and cautious plans for our next pregnancy. I knew I wanted to have a baby between October and November of 2020. I knew that I wanted to go to the Bahamas for our good friends’ wedding, I knew that I wanted to have more pictures of this pregnancy, and I wanted to make sure I had that babymoon in Italy and Greece. I got pregnant exactly when I wanted to with a due date of October 4th. In San Diego, I was managing my nausea well, eating as healthy as possible when I could and drinking loads of water. I was exhausted, but it was so worth it. Italy went into lockdown while we were there, so we changed our plans, but I was still optimistic.

Three weeks after Ben’s company told them to work from home, we were issued a stay at home order by the state. Playgrounds closed. Malls closed. We couldn’t get our hair done. People were losing their jobs left and right. I was going through my first trimester, grateful that Ben was home with me and taking advantage of as many naps as I could get in. I was determined to make the most ofit.

But. Every morning I would wake up to a cloudy sky. I would lay in bed, practicing my daily rituals of writing in my journal, setting goals for the week and for the month, for the year, but I felt empty. I felt fearful. What if this never ended? Everything felt so bleak. And the weather wasn’t helping.

I made myself workout everyday. I decided to plan for the best. I started reading art history books. I played with Sofie just before her naps and spent her naptime on Zoom calls or making plans for my business. I made afternoons all about a fun and healthy smoothie, a walk outside, watching Sofie run up and down the hill near our apartment. I pushed forward. Every evening we would do a puzzle with Sofie, the same puzzle over and over. Then we ate dinner and had a dance party before bed. Nights were spent playing through Tomb Raider and binge watching Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime- whatever we could get into. I made weird little videos of my cereal and filmed the process of making lasagna. I got out my 35mm and my digital camera to make sure I kept practicing my craft. I planned my days as if the Bahamas were still happening, as if I was still going to get those maternity pictures I yearned for, as if everything would go back to “normal” soon. At least, that’s how I executed most days. Other days I took four hour naps and wished to wake up to non-mask days. I was hopeful. But I was also angry.

Things got worse when stores stopped allowing entire families to go together, and Ben had to start grocery shopping alone. Then things got worse again. Every time it felt like we couldn’t have a worse piece of news, it got worse. I felt defeated by social media and by the hatred I saw coming out of people as protests began and society crumbled into a yelling match.

The Bahamas didn’t happen. My work got canceled and postponed. More people lost jobs. People lost their lives, people became depressed. More anger spread. I didn’t get those maternity pictures done. And yet, there are moments of 2020 that come to me with such fondness that I don’t want to forget them. And here comes the list in no particular order with absolutely no full sentences.

Waking up from naps to hear Ben and Sofie playing in the other room.

Sitting on my reading chair in the corner of my bedroom having a beautiful, open conversation with a friend I made in San Diego.

Spending an extra long amount of time with my family in Texas for the summer and for the holidays.

Flying on an empty airplane for the first time in my life.

Letting Sofie paint for the first time and watching the artistry flow out of her little hands. That painting went on the fridge.

Smoothies in the afternoon, so many smoothies.

A date night at the W one week before Henry was born.

A weekend at Cannon Beach, watching Sofie play on the sand, almost forgetting the world around us.

Mother’s day: Ben made me croissants, clam chowder, shakshuka. A day at a beach in Kirkland, an afternoon imagining our future life with the windows open and a summer breeze flowing in.

Henry’s birth and spending much of my labor watching Sofie play on the security cameras because we missed her so much.

Crying my eyes out when we got home, and grabbed Sofie up into my hands after the hospital because I missed her so much.

Seeing Henry smile.

Seeing my family with my babies.

Hearing Sofie’s little voice saying “it’s a boy” with such excitement and seeing her face light up when we put him in her arms.

Hugging my parents and working out in the mornings with my sister.

So much giggling with my family.

Waking up everyday next to Ben and getting to spend the entire day working together, dancing around each other in perfect harmony and rhythm to get everything done in our small space.

My friends loving on my kids.

Late night dates in our kitchen, quietly eating our dinner by candlelight, after Sofie passed out.

Walking to the park, when it reopened, sitting on a bench with my mom while my dad pushed Sofie on the big-kid swing.

Driving to the snow.

This pandemic is far from over. I see that now. I am still angry. I feel slighted. I feel like I missed out on the things I planned. But. Oh gosh, how grateful I am to have had the year I did. I know, with every ounce of my being, that I am lucky, that I am angry about selfish things. I know this. And I know that I gained more beautiful unplanned moments than I could have ever wished for.

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