Avery Nicole Alfred was born via planned cesarean delivery at Oakville hospital on March 20, 2020, weighing 9.6lbs. I was blessed to give birth to a healthy baby girl. She let out a huge cry when I birthed her from my belly, and the first thing I thought was that she looked so much like Ares, her older brother.
Our baby was born a week after the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic. These times have been unprecedented, uncertain and very scary.
I prepared so much for this birth mentally and physically and wanted to feel very empowered-which I did. This was the best birth experience I could have asked for, even though I had to give up any plan I had for birth and postpartum (it wasn’t easy).
On the morning of delivery, we found out our OBGYN was unable to attend our birth because she was isolated after travelling out of the country. The new OBGYN who filled in for her seemed like such a happy person. He listened to all my concerns and birth wishes. He talked me through the whole surgery and let me know when our baby was about to be born. It was so important to me to feel like I was apart of the birth process and that it wasn’t just a surgery. I also got to hold our baby skin to skin right away while they closed up my womb. The nursing staff was so friendly and introduced themselves to me before birth. The anesthesiologist was very kind and made sure to replenish the warm blanket she laid on my chest and arms to keep me comfortable during the initial stages of the surgery. I felt that they were creating a caring environment for me to give birth to our daughter and my husband, and I am so thankful for that.
The most memorable nurse we had in postpartum had such caring energy and reminded me of my mom. She took me to the bathroom and washed me with a cloth on my neck, upper back, chest and face. I have never experienced something so nurturing from a health practitioner before. It was such a simple gesture, wiping me with a warm cloth, and yet it gave me so much dignity, and I felt human again.
Recovering in the hospital was great (other than the food). We felt like we were in a safe bubble. Although I wish I could have had our son with us, it was so beautiful to bond with our new baby girl. Leaving the hospital was a little eerie. The hospital hallways were busy when I was at an ultrasound just a few weeks before. That day, it was empty.
We had no visitors at the hospital, and I knew we wouldn’t have any visitors at home either due to social distancing. I made sure to dress Avery in the cutest outfit and showed her off to all the nurses and staff guarding the doors of the hospital before we left. Seeing a new baby gives people hope, so I wanted to show her off to as many people as I could (from a distance, of course!)
Our son was dropped off by my parents soon after we got home, and I instantly felt so much love. Ares, our son, who is almost six years old, was finally a big brother, and my heart was so full.
The recovery after this cesarean delivery has been amazing. I have been up and walking outside since week two and getting back into my regular activities slowly. I feel like I was prepared for recovery this time and gave my body all the tools it needed to heal quickly.
We may not have had the same kind of support from family and friends as we wanted in postpartum due to social distancing. Still, we are so thankful that we have had so many people check in on us and best of all, we have each other.
I believe Avery was born during a pandemic for a reason. It has made me stronger and more resilient. I learned that trusting my instincts is so important, especially when there is little healthcare available in person. I realize how little I prioritized the simple things in life like a hug from a parent or friend. We need to make the best of our situations and find happiness in things that did go the way we wanted.