I have now given birth to a “COVID baby,” as they say. His name is George Calhoun after his ancestors. He looks like a George, all fat and wrinkly, like an old man. He provides a perfect distraction from the anxiety of COVID life, and he made the long winter months perfectly bearable. I’m not sure we would’ve wanted to leave the house much even if we weren’t quarantined. Georgie boy has entered into our hearts forever during what feels like a very bleak time in history.
His entrance into this world was like a bursting canon. He was born within an hour of the contraction that first stirred me from sleep. It’s funny to think of him then…knocking about inside me, bidding me to get ready quickly because, “Look out!” he’s on his way! The world is about to change! Add another to the 7.8 billion! I had to call my in-laws a second time to come watch our other kids - they actually needed to get to our house in five minutes rather than 20. We thought they’d have more time to get to our home, but there was no time at all.
I could feel Georgie drop down, ready to bust out, before we reached the hospital. I called Labor and Delivery to let them know a newborn might be here in the car with us when we arrived. I stripped off my pants and underwear only to hurriedly put them back on when I saw a security guard waiting with the nurses at the hospital drop off. Even in all that chaos I cringed at the thought of being immodest.
The nurses helped me into the wheelchair and whisked me inside with a distraught husband trailing behind. I found out later he never turned off our car! As with the birth of all of my children, there was this five-minute period right before they’re out during which I experience a fight or flight response. I’m panicked and ready to bolt to do literally anything to end the pain. But a minute later he was out of me, and the terror and dread transformed instantly into the silkiest relief. The depth of that relief and love is unfathomable.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to wear a mask, or even a hospital gown for that matter. I plopped onto the table and let my prize erupt into our world before there was any time for admissions or pandemic protocols. That boy shot out in a slithery mess across the bed, and the nurse flew in to scoop him up like a ground ball. He was a blue little guy at first, but they had him breathing soon enough. A nurse squeezed my hand as they revived him across the room. That was a powerful moment for me in this Age of COVID when the touch of a stranger is especially taboo and delightful. Postpartum nurses are their own kind of goddess.
It feels good to have a COVID baby. I was nervous and uncertain at first because there were rumors that I would have to deliver him by myself, and who knew what could happen to an infant in the face of a deadly disease. Plus, the prospect of wearing a mask during labor made me shudder. But I feel better now. I’m thankful to see indications of Spring. New beginnings are around the corner, Lord willing. I’m cradling new life, like a budding flower, which serves as a tangible reminder that change is coming. Georgie gives me hope as all babies should. It seems that a “COVID baby” is the perfect kind of baby…his life is shedding sunshine and hope during a period of terror. May we always have hope in even the most devastating circumstances.