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BORDEN-CARLETON, P.E.I. – It's the time in Sierra Barbour's life when she should excitedly be preparing for her bundle of joy by decorating the nursery with the help of family, getting together for a baby shower and celebrating her pregnancy with a maternity photoshoot.
Instead, she is trying to limit stress levels and avoid thinking of things that could go wrong as the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic continues to spread.
"Our baby girl is due at the end of June. If this (pandemic) goes into summer, we won't be able to go out and about with her."
At over 28 weeks pregnant, Barbour is trying not to think that the second half of her pregnancy has been robbed of new experiences.
"There will be no maternity shoot, baby shower, newborn pictures... I'm just trying to stay positive. It could be worse, this whole situation could get worse."
"It's stressful. And I know stress isn't good for the baby. I feel more anxious than I have in my entire life."
Barbour, 24, is thankful for the support she has gotten from her mom and her husband, Rowgan, who works in Alberta and is expected home this week.
"We'll still have to be apart even after he's home because he's going to have to go right into isolation. It's been tough in that sense because what if they cancel flights from out West before he leaves? It's nerve-wracking that something could happen and he couldn't be here."
While Barbour has been trying to limit her exposure to the continuous news of coronavirus, she's been keeping up to date as much as she can without overwhelming herself.
"It's stressful. And I know stress isn't good for the baby. I feel more anxious than I have in my entire life. (The news and social media) is in our palms all of the time. I've been trying hard not to check in on it too much."
Like the general public, expectant and new moms should follow the guidelines from Centres of Disease Control to prevent illness during COVID-19 pandemic:
- Cover your cough (using your elbow is a good technique)
- Avoid people who are sick
- Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
For new mom Courtney Aylward of Tignish, bringing her newborn daughter Annie home after a difficult pregnancy wasn't filled with hugs and smiles from loved ones but rather sanitizing surfaces, stocking up on necessities and ensuring steps were in place to protect her daughter from coronavirus.
Annie was born on March 19. By then, two positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) had been confirmed in P.E.I. Aylward was discharged 24 hours after giving birth.
"Being a first-time mom, breastfeeding and being sent home so quickly was a bit scary knowing my mom cannot come over to help, nor were we going to receive house visits from public health. It was kind of like, 'OK, you just had a baby 24 hours ago, now you need to go home and fend for yourself'. Thankfully my nurses and doctors were very informative during our first day. I know they wouldn’t have sent us home if they had any concerns, and we knew it was best for Annie to be in isolation at home," she said.
"Reality is kicking in now...it could be weeks before she gets to meet any of her family, and that just breaks my heart."
Leading up to the birth, Aylward said her anxiety grew.
"We started to quarantine before she was even born. The week leading up to her birth was when everything really started to get serious here on the Island. All I could think of was, 'how am I going to have a baby during a pandemic'? I reached the point where I had to stay off social media and avoided watching the news."
Like Barbour, Aylward tried to avoid putting stress on her and her baby.
"I told my husband we can’t talk about this virus anymore I just need to forget what’s happening in the world and we just need this baby to come into the world healthy."
Aylward was kept busy during her first week as a mom, so much so it allowed her to forget about the pandemic.
"Reality is kicking in now, though, it could be weeks before she gets to meet any of her family, and that just breaks my heart. Post-partum brings a whole new level of emotion in your life (even) when everything is normal... I’m just thankful my husband has been so great and helpful throughout all this. I could not have done any of this without him."
The family has kept to the strict instructions given to them when they left the hospital.
"Quarantine until this pandemic is over. No visitors or leaving the house unless it’s absolutely necessary and make sure whatever enters the house gets cleaned. And we maintain good hygiene as well. I’ve never seen my husband clean the kitchen so much," Aylward said.
But it's not the early days of parenthood Aylward and her husband Alex pictured.
"If you told me nine months ago 'you’re going to have a baby during a pandemic and you will be isolated from everyone you know for weeks', I probably would have laughed because all of this doesn’t seem real. It’s like a bad dream you just want to be over."