First-time parenthood during COVID-19 crisis a challenging experience for Montreal moms

First-time parenthood can be challenging in normal situations, but Montrealers raising babies for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic are finding themselves handling unique difficulties.

“There's so much happening and it's so new. For me and my partner to not have anyone really witness that except through a screen is pretty difficult,” said Hilary Bergen, who recently gave birth to her daughter Ingrid.

Like many families, they're staying connected through video chats, but Bergen said it just isn't the same for Ingrid's grandparents.

“They're missing all those little moments where she's learning new things. Every time we're on camera, they're focused on her. We're not really able to talk about anything else,” said Bergen.

Midwife Bronwen Agnew gave birth to her second child, Walter, at the end of April. She said it's normal for new moms to feel sad about missing out the little things like baby showers.

“You have a right to grieve them, to find them hard,” she said. “Just accepting all the emotions, I think is hard for a lot of people.”

For Agnew, her second time with a baby looks very different from her first. Dad is always home, juggling work and childcare and friends can't come inside to meet Walter.

“We've had some little visits where we sit at the top of the stairs and friends come by at the bottom,” she said. “We can present the baby, Lion King-style, to our friends.”

Heather de Legran said maternity leave during a pandemic isn't what she imagined.

“Just thinking about the limitations that the pandemic puts on your maternity leave is a bit daunting,” she said. “You don't have that connection, there's no mom groups happening or play groups.”

She said what's helped is reaching out to friends and family online.

“Tell them when you need to have a chat,” she said. “A socially distant walk if you're feeling brave.”

Agnew recommended touching base with other new moms to know you're not alone.

“They sort of feel like it's still a special period,” she said. “You'll never get that period back so you want it to feel special and magical.”

For Bergen, isolation has been a period of intimacy with her husband and baby.

“I feel like once we're able to great each other in the world again, we'll look back on this probably in a bitter sweet sense,” she said. “Hopefully with a lot of fondness, too.”

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