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It takes a village to raise a child – but what happens when that village disappears?
From the cradle to the grave, the global pandemic more commonly known as COVID-19 has changed our way of life and will continue to do so well into the future. It’s also left expectant and new mothers without some family supports they would normally have before outbreak.
Haley Feener and Zak MacNevin from Charlottetown, P.E.I., became first-time parents on April 15, when Feener delivered twin girls at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Scarlett weighed 3 lbs, 6 ounces, while Everleigh tipped the scales at 3 lbs, 15 ounces. The babies were cared for in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
MacNevin was present for the births and stayed with Feener during her three-day hospital stay.
After she was discharged, the babies’ parents could visit the newborns every day. However, they could not leave and come back. They often stayed with the babies for eight or nine hours a day.
“It was really hard and stressful. I was really angry … We could stay as long as we wanted (during visits) but it was just really hard after a caesarean (delivery). I was still in a lot of pain…
I understood why they did what they did, but it was still pretty upsetting,” she recalled.
After a two-week hospital stay, the babies were strong enough to come home.
Feener said it was hard for her and her partner in the first weeks at home but she was lucky to have a lot of support from her own mother. But, she said, there are still many family and friends waiting to meet the twins.
Overall, Feener said, giving birth and caring for her daughters has been a great experience.
“It’s been pretty amazing,” she said.
Jessica Gosse and Charlie Parsons of Paradise, N.L., were overjoyed on April 20 when Gosse gave birth to the couple’s third child. They named their daughter Madelyn. The couple also have two sons: Myles is eight and his brother Easton is two.
When Gosse found out she was pregnant, her plan was to include her mother in the delivery. Her own mom had been present for both the boys’ birth, Gosse said.
“We knew this was going to be our last (baby). We didn’t find out the gender and we knew it was going to be a big surprise. And I was so excited for Mom to be part of that,” Gosse recalled.
As her pregnancy progressed, Gosse soon realized her plan would not happen.
She was told that protocols surrounding labour and delivery were being changed and updated on a regular basis.
Gosse’s biggest fear was that her husband wouldn’t be allowed in the delivery room. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. However, other restrictions were still in place at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s, where baby Madelyn was born. The restrictions apply to all Newfoundland regional health authorities.
“Charlie had to wait until they deemed I was in active (labour) before they let your support person come in … so I had to walk into the hospital myself and then there was this screening process when I got to the door.”
Gosse was given a mask and proceeded to the floor. After an assessment, she was told she was indeed far enough into the labour process for her husband to be with her.
“Charlie was waiting on the parking lot (for the call),” she said during a phone interview.
Parsons was with Gosse in the delivery room and was permitted to stay with her for four hours once she was on the maternity ward.
After those four hours, he wasn’t permitted back into the hospital until Gosse and the baby were ready to come home, two days later.
“Once again, he had to wait for that phone call … he wasn’t allowed back in the hospital room, but he could meet us at the ward doors.”
The nurse was helpful as she prepared to leave the hospital, she said.
Gosse said while the entire experience was far different than her first two deliveries, the biggest disappointment was not having her mother present for the birth.
“And it was really different with Charlie not being allowed to stay,” she said.
Looking at her glass as half-full rather than half-empty, she said having no visitors gave her extra time to bond with her baby.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Gosse’s parents are the only ones who have met the new baby.
“Madelyn is the first granddaughter on both sides of the family. So, it’s really hard (not having both sets of grandparents spending time with the baby). But we understand why the policies are in place. We’ve been doing drive-bys and they have been coming by and looking at Madelyn through the window. We are just trying to make the best of it,” Gosse said.
Liane Bradbury and Colin VanBuskirk of Halifax, N.S., are the proud parents of a baby girl they named Ruby. The baby was born April 8 at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.
“When we went (to the hospital) on April 7, you were only allowed to have one person with you in the delivery room. We weren’t allowed to have any visitors after the baby was born and when we went in, we had to bring everything with us … Colin couldn’t go back to the car to get anything,” Bradbury explained.
While the initial plan was to have Bradbury’s mom present for the birth, Bradbury said she understood why the restrictions were in place.
“That was disheartening because it was my first baby and I didn’t really know what to expect …
"But Colin stayed with me the whole time.”
The couple brought their baby home about 24 hours after the birth. Bradbury said she felt well cared during the hospital stay.
“The nurses and doctors were attentive. They did their procedures with masks on all the time.”
Once settled at home, the couple used FaceTime and other social media to share pictures of Ruby with family and friends.
“Colin’s family and my family would come out to see (Ruby) through the door or be six feet distanced but no one could come in the house,” Bradbury said during a phone interview on May 22.
Nova Scotia has since approved double-bubble gatherings with two households now permitted to meet without social distancing.
While her mother has been in her home since the double-bubble was approved, she has yet to hold the baby, as the new parents are still being cautious.
“I have had my mom in but still no one else has held the baby yet. I’m waiting to speak to my doctor to find out what her thoughts are on it,” Bradbury said.
- Making books, stories and storytelling a part of your baby’s daily routine will help nurture a love of reading. Even very young babies love picture books and it’s helpful to make story time a part of your baby’s routine.
- Use rhymes, games and songs. Babies respond to them almost from birth.
- Talk about what’s going on. Whether you’re changing a diaper, bathing your baby or taking a walk, use words that describe the actions and the things around your baby.
- Babies babble. It’s how they learn to make sounds with their own voices. Repeat these sounds and turn them into real words. You’ll help your baby recognize which sounds form language.
- For newborns and very young babies, try rhymes that involve gentle touch, such as patting their feet or giving them a little bounce while you’re talking.
- Reward your baby’s first tries at making sounds with smiles and hugs.
- Once your baby starts talking, help them find the words for the things around them.
- Ask questions. When you say, “What’s that?” and name the picture in a book, it teaches your baby that things have names.
- Encourage your baby’s involvement. Babies like to put books in their mouths, so be sure your baby has access to sturdy and clean board books.
- Sing songs. Music makes the words easier to remember and is a fun way to make language come alive for you and your baby!
- Young children learn best from face-to-face interactions with caring adults. For children under two years old, screen time is not recommended. Turn off background screens (TV, smartphones, etc.) so you’re not distracted from speaking with your baby.
- Keep books visible and accessible around your home – not just on bookshelves – so your baby can explore them anytime.
- Have fun! Cuddle, gaze at each other’s eyes, use silly voices as you enjoy books and conversations with your baby.
Source: Canadian Pediatric Society
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