Parents of newborns reflect on a year of challenges under COVID-19 pandemic

More than a year into the pandemic, life has been different for many, including new parents.

Mothers and fathers of newborns have spent the last 14 months raising their children in an age of physical distancing measures, masks, and stay-at-home orders.

FaceTime calls and Zoom sessions are the only way four-week-old Emmett Varcoe has been able to meet his family who live hours away.

“It’s been hard and I think the hardest thing is not knowing when it might change,” says mom Lindsay Jackson.

Emmett is one of thousands of babies born over the last year in Canada under the pandemic.

For Jackson, isolation from family has been one of the hardest parts.

“Nobody’s held him or seen him in person. Yeah, it’s not the way you would imagine it,” she explains in an interview with CTV News Ottawa.

Pandemic parents like Jackson have had to make several concessions this past year, which started even before their babies arrived.

In Jackson's case, that meant nine months of attending appointments without her husband. It also meant thinking about where you can go, whom you can see, and being extra cautious for the baby she was carrying.

“Pregnancy can be stressful and anxiety inducing to begin with and when you add a pandemic on top of it, it’s that much more difficult,” she explains.

Sarah Millard says she has had similar challenges this past year. She gave birth to twins Owen and Oliver in September.

“Knowing that I was pregnant with twins and then all of a sudden, bam! It’s a pandemic. Lockdown,” explains Millard. “It’s a lot of emotions.”

That meant drive-by baby showers and even juggling online learning with the twins' older sister Courtney who is eight-years-old.

Millard says it’s not what she imagined it would be.

“I thought that I could just have mat leave, and go on play groups, take my daughter to school and have time with my twins,” says Millard. “She’s at home with me, doing online learning, there’s no playgroups. It’s a lot to be stuck in the house.”

To get through it, Facebook groups and online parent communities have been a big help, says Millard.

“Knowing that you're not alone in any of it, so if you post a question, everyone asks that same question and you know you're not alone by yourself,” she says.

As the twins' first birthday approaches, Millard says she expects it to be another physically distant affair, with a drive-by for family and friends, and cutting the cake at home as a small family.

But beyond some of the changes and challenges, comes extra time with little ones during the stay-at-home order.

Moments both moms are busy taking in.

“It’s sort of given us permission to just be at home with our baby and take things slow,” says Jackson. 

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