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As the world battles the novel coronavirus, tries to answer the unanswered questions, and live the ‘new normal’, some found a glimmer of hope in their ‘pandemic pregnancy’.
For some, being pregnant during the lockdown was a planned choice. For others, it was a complete surprise.
This Mother’s Day, The Quint met three women who welcomed their bundles of joy.
I Really Needed This in Life: Sakshi Malik
Gurgaon-based make-up artist Sakshi Malik’s described her pregnancy as ‘perfectly timed’ and ‘something she really wanted’ at that point.
“Ours was a planned pregnancy. So, I knew I was pregnant as soon as I missed my period. I knew I had to take the home pregnancy test the very next morning. I couldn’t sleep well throughout the night and woke up super early because of the excitement and anxiety and as soon as the test came positive, I woke my husband up and I told him that I was pregnant,” Malik said, holding up a chart announcing her husband’s new role. This was in June 2020.
In March 2021, Sakshi gave birth to Anahat – at a time when India was reeling under the impact of the second wave of coronavirus infections.
"“Even during the ultrasounds, which is the most beautiful experience in pregnancy, he (my husband) could not be there for a single appointment because of COVID protocols. He could not see the development of our baby and this was something heartbreaking because this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”" - Sakshi Malik, make-up artist
But despite a chaotic year filled with uncertainty, the first-time mother wanted her daughter to know:
“This too shall pass; things will be beautiful again. Everything comes and goes and things happen for a reason. But I want to tell you that you are my reason for happiness.”
An Accidental Surprise: Sonia Elizabeth
Bengaluru-based Sonia Elizabeth, who works as a lecturer at a university, thought that a gastrointestinal problem was causing her the nausea and heartburn. When she tele-consulted a doctor, in the middle of a nationwide lockdown in 2020, she was surprised.
“So, I tele-consulted a doctor because we were in the middle of a lockdown and I didn’t want to visit a hospital at that point. I didn’t think it was major enough to visit a hospital. So, I called up the doctor and he immediately said, “Have you taken a pregnancy test?” and I’m like “Um, pregnancy test? Just give me the medicines for the nausea and heartburn,” she told The Quint.
She rues not spending enough time with her family and friends and not having had the chance to eat her mother’s cooking during her pregnancy.
"“I couldn’t spend time with friends as much, especially, again, in the first trimester when I really wanted my mum’s cooking. I had no energy to cook. I could hardly eat. There were so many things that were putting me off. I really missed mum’s food.”" - Sonia Elizabeth, university lecturer
Her husband and she also had to manage the delivery and the newborn all alone – which she describes as exciting, but difficult.
"“I think for me, the best part of being a mother is the fact that I get a front-row seat of my daughter’s life. I get to see her grow and evolve, and knowing that everyday I’m going to discover something new about her is definitely very exciting.”" - Sonia Elizabeth, university lecturer
‘My Son – A Month-Old COVID Warrior’
When graphic designer Ankita Bhatnagar Manral delivered her son at a military hospital in Delhi – no one was allowed to visit her. Even her husband was allowed to see the newborn for barely 10 seconds before he was taken back outside to reduce exposure.
“A sad thing about delivering during a pandemic is the fact that once my baby was born, nobody could really come and see him except for me. In fact, not even the father, I mean my husband got to see his own son for like, not even, maybe like, ten seconds, before the nurse took him back inside because of course they were worried about exposing him outside,” Bhatnagar told The Quint.
While her family and her managed to stay clear of the virus, the ‘happy spell’ as Bhatnagar calls it, did not last for long, as her 20-day-old son started showing symptoms.
"“I realised that he had slight fever, and there was heaviness in his breathing. I spoke to the doctors on call and they told me, “Ma’am there’s nothing to worry about it. Just seasonal flu.” But call it maternal instinct, I took him to the Military Hospital and they were kind enough to do a Rapid Antigen Test. And the entire world came crashing down for that one second of my life. I remember everything just blanked out because he was just 20 days old. How could have it happened to us?”"
But the episode, thought Bhatnagar, and her family to never lose hope. And this is something she wants her son to know as well.
“Your name, Arihant, it literally means conqueror of evil. Someone who’s conquered and is victorious over evil, and that’s exactly what you did, because you were just about 21-22 days old, when you actually caught the virus, the biggest evil in the world right now and you conquered it,” she told her son
. Read more on Gender by The Quint.Pandemic Moms: Women Who Became First-Time Mothers Amid COVID-19‘SC Order Violated’: Kappan’s Lawyer Sends Notice to UP Govt . Read more on Gender by The Quint.