OPINION: Our ‘pandemic baby’ born during arduous, magical time

Tara Jeffrey

Baby Jake, we have quite the story for you when you’re older.

We’ll tell you about when you were born, in a quiet hospital room at Bluewater Health at the peak of an unprecedented pandemic.

You’ll hear all about Leslee and Emilia, the two nurses, who, behind face shields and masks, held your scared mother’s hand, calmed her nerves and delivered you safely in the middle of the night, just minutes before the doctor arrived.

We weren’t allowed to leave the room or welcome visitors. There had been nine new cases of COVID-19 reported here the day before; six people had already lost their lives, and two dozen were in that same hospital fighting the virus in a special unit staffed by a team of health-care workers who can only be described as the ultimate superheroes.

You arrived home to the fanfare of your three older siblings, who, by day 35 of isolation, were certainly in need of something new to play with.

Those early days were hard; there was no ‘village’ to help out; grandparents met you through the living room window while baby gifts, casseroles and groceries were left on the front porch.

Your sisters spent their mornings at “school” (the kitchen table) while I struggled to recall how fractions work, feeling guilty for not thanking their teachers enough for what they do.

We’ll tell you about your Great Grandma, how she dropped off a handmade quilt and peeked at you with adoration through the glass, wishing she could hold you. She passed away unexpectedly, a few days later, and since we couldn’t gather at the funeral home, we watched her service from home, live-streamed via video — something we never could have fathomed just months ago.

She’d spent her final days sewing protective face masks for her fellow church members. You would have loved her.

Those days were hard, Jake. But they were also a gift.

Your sisters learned how to make French toast, and served up breakfast every morning. They spent hours teaching your brother to ride a two-wheeler, and how to make the most epic backyard obstacle courses. We started plants in our little greenhouse and watched them thrive in the garden.

We had no obligations, appointments or schedules; no soccer practice or hockey tryouts. Just the odd drive-by birthday parade to attend. We took family walks and Face-timed with your grandparents every evening. We even cut each others’ hair.

Our days, while not without their struggles, became a little bit magical.

As I write this, it’s been 100 days since the world around us shut down. Things are slowly starting to get back to normal, but we’re in no rush.

Patio beers sound nice, but snuggling you all to ourselves for a little longer, sounds nicer.

We’ll tell you all about it someday, Jake. When the world slowed down, and so did we.