Pregnancy in the Time of Coronavirus

Dealing with Fear, Rage and People Who Suck

Photo by Michael Anfang on Unsplash

If you’ve been in therapy long enough, at one point or another someone will tell you that anger is a secondary emotion.

They’ll tell you anger is just a cover-up for a different emotion like fear or sadness. And sure, of course it is.

But now, as I sit here cradling my burgeoning belly in the time of a burgeoning pandemic — the emotion I feel most strongly isn’t fear and it isn’t sadness.

It’s anger. No, screw that. It’s rage. Pure, unfiltered rage.

She’s the size of a butternut squash — my daughter. Or the 33-week-old fetus growing inside of me is the size of a butternut squash. (However you want to look at.) She’s roughly 17 inches long and 4 lbs. and the only thing separating her from a world in chaos is me.

So there’s no pressure there or anything.

Thankfully, I’m luckier than most. Far luckier. Unlike other pregnant women, I have the option of working from home. Heck, I’ve worked from home for five years by choice. So none of that is new to me. I also have the time, energy and resources to get the things I need for her and myself delivered to my home.

Until I left the house for a doctor’s appointment (and just a doctor’s appointment) last week, I hadn’t left the house for 12 days and I hadn’t even noticed. I’m a social-distancing natural.

Thankfully, my husband was also able to start working from home a week ago which means we are far more privileged than other couples in the same situation. And that’s not something I take for granted. We’re lucky there. Or as lucky as you can consider parents-to-be in the middle of a pandemic.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. There are plenty of problems — and most of them are other people.

I’ve never been an optimist. But at some point in my life, I’m sure that I trusted other people and their judgement more.

Then I worked in retail and a man thrust a bag of his soiled underwear at me demanding a full refund and a large chunk of my faith in humanity fell away. At that moment, I saw, in a small way, that you never really know what another person will do. You cannot underestimate the average person’s capacity for ignorance and their complete disregard for the health and safety of others.

Never has that been more clear to me than now, when I’m at my most vulnerable and my health, and the health of my unborn child, are dependent upon other people following the rules and being on good behavior.

Which, of course, many of them are not doing.

Just when I think people can’t go lower, they say: “Hold my beer. I’m going to cough in some old person’s face during a pandemic.”

Or, they say “I know I should stay home, but I like really want to go on this trip or to this bar or to this movie or to this restaurant…yada, yada, yada…”

They make selfish, stupid choices. Again and again and again.

And despite my cynical nature and my background in retail that made me even more cynical, I’m still never prepared for it.

Each day I’m more amazed at the people who are still not taking this seriously, who think this situation is something to smirk at or belittle, simply because they don’t think it will affect them.

There is no excuse for this behavior. It is ignorant and it is cruel.

And even the supposedly “good” people do it, in less discernible ways.

They say smaller, seemingly innocuous things like, “This isn’t that different than the flu.” Or, “None of this really applies to me.” Or, “I don’t understand why people are making such a big deal out of nothing.”

News flash, it’s not nothing. People are dying and more and more people will die every day because — as has been clearly stated multiple times in multiple ways — there are a finite number of health care resources and we can’t all use them at once. There simply isn’t enough to go around.

You’d think everyone could agree this is a big deal.

I, for one, think it’s a big deal because I’m not completely inhumane so I care when people die. We should probably all care about that. That’s baseline being a good person stuff. Scratch that, it’s just baseline not being a terrible person stuff.

And number two, I also care because one of those people who dies could be me — and I could take my future daughter with me. Or, I could unknowingly give the virus to her and she could die shortly after she arrives.

Both of which seem like pretty big deals to me.

Because here’s the thing — we don’t know much about pregnancy and the coronavirus. How could we when it’s brand-new?

Most of the evidence seems to suggest that I’m not that much more likely to catch the disease than other 30-somethings and also, I’m not that much more likely to develop more severe symptoms. Also, at this point at least, research suggests that I’m unlikely to pass the virus onto her in utero.

Still, none of this is that reassuring considering it’s based on very limited research and the only things my doctor can tell me are things that I also already know, because, well, we both have the internet.

Pregnancy in the time of coronavirus is scary, because there are so many unknowns. I don’t know if I’ll need to pack surgical masks in my hospital bag. I don’t know if I can trust my health care providers to keep me safe from the coronavirus during my delivery. I don’t know if they can keep my daughter safe either.

I don’t know what a delivery in the time of coronavirus will be like. I just know it will be different and scarier than it would have been at a different time, a better time.

And the only way I can deal with this unknown and all the fear that comes with it, is by being angry at the people who are making this far harder and far worse than it needs to be.

Some might argue that this anger isn’t helpful. That it’s not the best use of my energy. But I’m telling you, it’s the best I can do right now. Because I don’t want to be told that everything will be OK. I understand the urge to do that, but please don’t. It doesn’t help me, because we don’t actually know.

What we do actually know is that social distancing, social isolation and simply washing your freaking hands helps. So if people could just do that, that would be great.

If they would just do that, I wouldn’t have to be so angry. If they would just do that, none of us would have to be so angry. If they would just do that, none of us would have to be so scared.

I’m a freelance writer and editor. I’ve written nonfiction children’s books, bar reviews, health care communications and more: https://ashleystrehlehartman.com/

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