I’ve always been a planner. I like to feel in control of my decisions and the course of my life. At only three years old, I would boss everyone around, including my best friend, while I drove around in her bright pink power wheels car. I was an active, driven, competitive child who was often a challenge for my parents, but they fostered my strengths through opportunities in sports and academics.
Fast forward a few years, a few breakups, and a close but failed attempt at making the Olympics (that’s a story for another time)–I had started my career in business, met the man of my dreams, and settled down in a small city in the span of six months. My husband and I bought a house together, my career was progressing, and I felt that once again, I had control over the direction of my life.
We had a beautiful wedding in 2019 surrounded by family and friends and decided to start trying to get pregnant right away. And although it appeared that all of my plans were falling into place, it quickly became apparent that nothing could have prepared me for what the year 2020 would look like. Fortunately, parenting is a position with plenty of on-the-job learning, so here’s what getting pregnant in a pandemic has taught me so far.
Conception is Never Guaranteed
I knew that it could take some time to get pregnant and even though I told myself it could take up to a year in order to feel more in control of the situation, I definitely had a hard time with this. Then I felt guilty for having a hard time with it when there are people in the world who legitimately struggle with infertility – oh, the complex layers of emotions!
One of my best friends had been trying to conceive for over 3 years, and after my husband and I tried for 5 months, I started to panic. All the worst-case scenario questions came racing through my mind: is something wrong with us? Will this ever happen? Did we wait too long? Was I too selfish in my 20s?
It’s really hard not get frustrated when you’re as impatient as I am. And while I struggled with not having complete control of the process, eventually, I learned to focus on what I could control—my health and mindset. Once I was able to keep everything in perspective, I was all the more thankful for that positive pregnancy test when it did finally arrive.
You Can’t Plan for Every Financial Scenario
We found out we were pregnant on January 1, 2020. It was only 10 days past ovulation (yes, I tracked my cycles like a textbook Type A person) and I was just about to hop in the shower. I knew it was more than likely too early to know if I was pregnant that cycle, but I couldn’t help obsessively peeing on sticks for the last 7 months, so I gave in and took a cheap pregnancy test. The thought that went through my mind was, “I know this is most likely negative, but I’m going to torture myself anyway, so I might as well just take the test.” Lovely, right?
I got out of the shower and saw, as the TTC (trying to conceive) community calls it, a VVVFL (very, very, very faint line). I was in shock and elated. I told my husband right away. He didn’t believe it, so we waited until the next day to confirm with another test. We were so excited, and immediately went into planning mode.
We were talking about building a house so that family from out of town could stay with us more comfortably as we start to have children. A positive pregnancy test was more motivation to put our plans into action, but it also meant careful financial planning for these big life changes. Let’s just say there were many versions of spreadsheets outlining every possible scenario.
By the time March rolled around, my husband was a week away from starting a better paying job and things were looking good. Cue: a global pandemic and unemployment. Suddenly his start date got indefinitely delayed and we were facing the one scenario we didn’t plan for: maternity leave and unemployment.
I would still recommend planning your finances, but this year has taught us all that some things are out of our hands and we just have to roll with plan B. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve adapted, made some lifestyle changes to save money, and I have confidence that we’ll be just fine.
There Will Never be a “Perfect” Time to Get Pregnant
How many times have you delayed something until you think everything will line up? In our life plans, 2020 was going to be the year where our careers were stable and we would be ready to bring a baby into our perfect little world.
But in reality, 2020 has been the furthest thing from perfect and yet, it has helped me see what was true all along—we could have had a baby at any point in our relationship and we would have figured it out then, just like we’re figuring it out now.
Your Response is the Only Thing You Can Truly Control
The stress of the pandemic and the economic situation of 2020 has been challenging for everyone. As much as it’s caused so much uncertainty and hardship in the world around me, it has also forced me to narrow my focus to my own little family unit. I can’t control everything around me—but I can control how I am welcoming this baby into the world.
I am now growing a tiny human and my mindset has had to shift from worry and fear to calm and positivity for the sake of my baby. I have never felt so peaceful in the face of uncertainty and chaos. Don’t get me wrong: I have my days, but for the most part, I have let go of trying to control every little detail and I am living much more in the moment than ever. My husband and I are in our little bubble, watching my belly grow, and choosing to focus on all the good things we have to be thankful for.
The Ones You Love Are All That Matter
I have been so amazed at how connected we have stayed with family and friends during lockdown. If anything, we have called, FaceTimed and spent even more time nourishing relationships with loved ones. It’s been hard not being able to see my immediate family during my entire pregnancy, but it has also made me appreciate all the time we’ve had and will have together when our baby arrives.
With all the lessons I have learned during my pregnancy, I am now counting down the days of the two months I have left until my due date—and staying open to the new lessons that are bound to arrive with my baby. I can’t wait to meet my daughter and learn even more from her every day. One day, I will tell her how much being pregnant with her taught me about patience and love.
And while 2020 may have not been the year I ever planned for to become a mother, I believe that children born in 2020 will have a special place in the world. Because even if they will be born into chaos, they’re a shining light of hope in such uncertain times.