Boston Celtics star Gordon Hayward and his wife, Robyn, are about to welcome their fourth child. But Hayward won’t be at the birth — instead he’ll be staying in Orlando, where members of the NBA are living in a “bubble” protected from COVID and finished a delayed playoff series.
The idea of living in a bubble, with frequent testing and bracelets that alarm if you’re closer than six feet to someone else, seems far-fetched. Most people don’t have access to that type of security when it comes to coronavirus prevention. But despite the unique circumstances, the Haywards’ choice highlights the difficult decisions that many families are having to make during the pandemic.
Initially, Hayward said that he would leave the bubble to be with his wife for the birth. But that would require quarantining and having at least two negative COVID tests before he could play again. Hayward was recently out with an ankle injury and got to spend time with his wife, and during that they decided that he would stay in the bubble when the baby came.
“Robyn could be having a baby at any point in time. It’s probably something I’ll be here. By the time I get back, I might miss the birth if she goes in and she rushes to the hospital,” he said. “We discussed it and we prayed about it. I think it’s probably best if I stay here and help our team.”
Robyn herself shared an Instagram story confirming that her husband won’t be there for the birth, and asking everyone to stop asking whether she’s had the baby (why do people insist on doing that?).
“Gordon isn’t going to leave the bubble to be there for the birth so stop asking that too,” she wrote. “Thank you.”
In July, Hayward had said that he’d be at the birth, even if the Celtics were still in the playoffs.
“It’s a pretty easy decision for me on that,” Hayward said then. “I’ve been at the birth of every one of my children and I think there are more important things in life. So we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
The Haywards aren’t the only family making difficult decisions in the bubble. Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley Jr. missed the birth of his son Elijah last month. He and his wife, Mary, had planned for him to be at the birth by hopping a plan as soon as labor started.
“Labor takes a while anyways so I would think, hopefully, we’d have, like, eight to 10 hours … we feel good about the way we’re going to do it,” she said before the birth, according to PEOPLE.
Unfortunately, Mary’s labor was very quick, so Mike wasn’t able to get there in time. He was present on Facetime through, for a truly 2020 birth experience.
“Thank goodness for FaceTime, which sounds so weird to say,” Mary said. “Michael was able to be there virtually and I was able to see him and hear his voice, which was really encouraging.”
Despite missing the birth, Mike left the bubble to come meet his new son in the hospital, and help Mary with the transition to three children.
She said it was easier to let her husband go after the birth than when he first left for the bubble before it.
“I had also mentally prepared myself for him going back to the bubble after the baby was born, which helped. My heart still aches,” she said.
Mary acknowledged that many women and families are coping with pregnancy, birth and postpartum in circumstances that are less than ideal.
“When COVID first started, I felt really bad for all the women who were due to have babies during that time and you know whether their spouse couldn’t be there, or they were only allowed one person [in the hospital]. I was so grateful, selfishly, that I wasn’t having my baby in the early spring.”