9 Ways the Pandemic is Like Your First Baby
This pandemic is like having your first baby in so many ways. Here are a few of them:
First baby: Your friends and relatives have had babies and now it’s your turn. You’ve seen babies, held babies, even babysat, but you’ve never actually LIVED with a newborn, at least not one you are solely responsible for – you have no concept of the scope and magnitude of the shitshow that’s about to hit you. They make it look so easy in the movies; your sister is a stellar Mom who is always put together and makes her own organic baby foods; your friends brag about their great sex life even though the’re still breastfeeding. It’s all a pack of lies! A newborn is exhausting and you’re lucky if you make it into the shower every other day. There’s no sex because you’re too sore and tired. You can’t wear makeup or jewellery because the baby may grab it/lick you/choke/be allergic.
Pandemic: you’ve read about pandemics, how they were dealt with previously and what will be required. Quarantining, isolating, distancing – it all sounds easy peasy. The reality of it is far harder. You’re stuck at home so there’s no point in wearing makeup or jewellery. Showering is also optional and often pointless. Sex is great for the first week, then it’s too much of a good thing and you’d rather actually watch the Netflix.
First baby: you are afraid of people. Don’t touch my baby, don’t breathe on my baby, don’t even look at my baby without asking me first. Definitely don’t come over.
Pandemic: afraid of people. Don’t touch me, don’t breathe on me, avoid eye contact. Don’t come over.
First baby: the pregnancy has left you flabby and loose everywhere except your boobs. Your nipples are leaky and shirts which don’t have baby drool on them definitely have milk stains at the nipple area. Your stretchy pants and maternity tops are your go-tos, but you don’t want to be seen in public wearing them. Your first time out of the house after giving birth is like dipping your toe into the hot tub – you’re a little scared but you really want to do it.
Pandemic: you’ve experimented with different masks and have finally settled on one which is marginally flattering and looks cute. Your first time in public with it on makes you self conscious. You avoid looking at others in case you catch them looking at your mask and flush with embarrassment.
First baby: sterilize a dropped soother, sterilize all bottles and nipples, wash your hands before you touch the baby, read every book ever written on babies, feed only organic and healthy foods, trust no one with your baby.
Pandemic: wash hands, wear a mask, don’t touch surfaces, trust no one.
First baby: what should I feed my baby? Is the baby eating enough? Do I need to take the baby to the doctor? What world will my baby be faced with when they grow up?
Pandemic: Am I eating too much? Do I need to get tested? What will the world be like when the pandemic is over?
First baby: at first people are reaching out, you hear from people you haven’t been in touch with for years because they want to congratulate you on your new baby. Then they all fade away and you are left alone with your new little family and that’s fine for a while, but then you start to miss seeing people. You join some Mommy groups but it’s awkward. You can’t go out for dinner or dancing or even to a movie because you can’t take the baby but you also can’t leave it with anyone because you don’t trust anyone with your baby.
Pandemic: you hear from people who you haven’t heard from in ages and after a brief virtual catch-up, they fade away again. You try some Zoom get-togethers but they’re awkward. You can’t go out for dinner or dancing or to a movie.
7. Leaving the house
First baby: even if it’s just a run to the store, you must have the diapers, napkins, wet wipes, soother, formula bottle, blankie, and extra nipple pads for your leaky boobs. Discovering you have forgotten one of these sends you into a panic. Leaving the house is always anxiety-inducing.
Pandemic: every time you venture out of the house you must have your mask, gloves, hand sanitizer and/or disinfecting wipes. Even a walk around the block requires a mask in case you run into a neighbour and they’re feeling chatty. Leaving the house is anxiety-inducing.
First baby: your life has changed forever. There’s no going back to what it was before. You can try, but you automatically make different choices because you have a baby who depends on you. Priorities have changed. You won’t take chances with your life or anyone else’s because your baby needs you.
Pandemic: life will never be the same. Your priorities have changed and you realize you didn’t need the gym or like those people or need that daily coffee or enjoy that job. You can try going back but it will never feel the same because you will always be aware of how close people are to you, what surfaces you have touched.
First baby: you have no idea what you’re doing and it’s all a bit overwhelming, but you are comforted by the fact that billions of others have survived it and are currently going through the same thing as you. You aren’t the first and you won’t be the last. You’re going to make it through this, and some day you’ll look back on it fondly. It was a magical time which shaped the lives of your little family. What a great and unique experience!
Pandemic: you have no idea what you’re doing and it’s all a bit overwhelming but you are comforted by the fact that billions of others have survived it and are currently going through the same thing as you. Most of us will make it through this and some day we’ll all look back on this and shake our heads. It was a strange time which shaped the social construct of the future. It was a time when the entire world simultaneously had the same experience.