It’s been one year since Nando and I got pregnant.  And no, we didn’t get pregnant during COVID, like people do before a hurricane. We got pregnant before this virus hit the world, but most of my pregnancy was during COVID, and I gave birth in the middle of COVID, and we are now raising our little Nandito throughout COVID. So, how has it been? How are we doing? Just fine, frankly.

We had a baby during COVID! And we are all here safe, healthy, and happy! We are surviving the hurricane called COVID.  I honestly could not stand it when people would say, “Oh my, I am so sorry to hear that you are pregnant in a time like this, in today’s world.” It was already enough pressure being over 35 and having my first baby. To be worried and thinking about COVID on top of it was just something I decided I would push away and stay positive. I was aware of the pandemic hovering over us and interfering on many levels of our lives. I would respect it. I did respect it. I was not going to let it affect my attitude and mentality during this special time called pregnancy.  So, I would reply with smiling eyes to the ‘Bless your heart-ers,’ “I am so grateful to be pregnant, which will only make me stronger.  I am excited to have a baby.” I mean, other times in history have been easier and other times tougher, a lot tougher. How could I complain? My hair was like a lion’s mane, nail game on point, and I had the most dewy glowing complexion. For sure, when I was nine months pregnant, wearing a white mumu, huffing and puffing with a mask on, trying to follow Nando around in Lowe’s, wasn’t the happiest of times. I was going around wearing the disposable gloves and safety goggles, looking like I was about to deliver someone else’s baby. Alas–it became our normal. (Following Nando around a home improvement store didn’t satisfy my desire to be thrifting or in a TJ Maxx.)

It was truly harder to satisfy cravings with restaurants and businesses shut down. I was happy to be let off the hook when it came to attending social obligations, the few there were. It was much easier to stay home “not finding something to wear” and binge-watching Schitt’s Creek. I also got out of the uncomfortable baby belly rubs that strangers always wanted to give me because of social distancing.  Hub and I were not into attending Lamaze classes with other couples in an awkward little room, COVID or no COVID, so that was also a plus. For the most part, we stayed home.  We counted our blessings that we did not have COVID. We concentrated on growing this little soul inside of me and found good outdoor alternatives to fill our time. For instance, Nando and his friend Tony repaired the dock, and I prepared them lemonade and lunches. I delivered them lakeside and picnicked with them in the sun.  

Going to the hospital was like going through security at an airport and forgetting something on the other side. If you went back out, you’d miss the flight. No missing this flight. Once Nando and I went in, we were not allowed to leave until we discharged… party of three. Speaking of planes, going into labor reminded me of when I ascended the troposphere awaiting to leap out for the first time at Jump Florida skydiving in Lake Wales. There was no turning back.

Granted, we liked the intimacy of just the two of us and no visitors allowed in the hospital room.  At 12:27 in the morning Nando, (son of Dr. Del Castillo, OBGYN) actually helped our midwife deliver the baby. The hospital was skeleton staffed, so Nando helping kind of came naturally, and so did Nandito.  I thought, “Well, we’ve made it through COVID and everything else; why not top it off with a completely natural childbirth. That will give ‘them’ something to actually say, bless your heart about!”

We continued to practice social distancing, mask whenever necessary, and washed our hands often. I enjoy waiting in the car for Nandito’s monthly checkups instead of the waiting rooms. It took a couple of months before we actually went out into the world, mainly because we had a newborn but now we’re at the six-month mark, and I missed sitting outside at Grove Roots or having a coffee at N+1. So we started to get our feet wet.  Nandito was licking the booth in Andy’s igloo the other night, which made me a little bit twitchy but, we still have to live, and he needs to develop his antibodies and tolerances. Plus, he had just gotten a great six-month checkup with Dr. Kleine!

The silver lining to having a baby during COVID is that... I am on a cushy (unpaid) extended maternity leave because, well, the film industry has been pretty much shut down and only now picking up! So I had no guilt about not getting right back to work because we couldn’t. The downside to that is there is no excuse for not getting my “mom bod” in shape. So I’m back to walking daily around Lake Howard or Lake Wailes. I am able to be here to support my friends that have their own little bundles of joy on the way. I tell them, “I know it’s a little or a lot different because it’s COVID, but you are’re having a baby!”

Xo Sally DC

P.S. Sebastien (Nandito’s Guardian Angel) always said to me, “You will see” when I would ask what something was like. So – to my pregnant friends wanting to know about the birthing experience… I will reply just that. You will see – but it is an awful lot like skydiving.

P.P.S. Come see us vending our WH Apparel with Nandito most Saturdays at the Winter Haven Farmers Market from 9am-1pm (conveniently across from Grove Roots)

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