Well, I did it! I officially delivered our second baby girl during a global pandemic. Just like many expecting moms at this time, the weeks leading up to my due date were filled with questions, uncertainty and a little (okay maybe a lot of) paranoia. No matter how much my OB and I discussed it and even after reading the constant updates from the hospital reassuring that the entire process would be smooth and as stress free as possible, I still was nervous and wondering what this experience would look like.
I knew going into my second delivery, that things would be different compared to the birth of my first child. I wouldn’t have tons of family members in the waiting room and flowers and presents everywhere. I wouldn’t be able to have my aunt/midwife there to help me through the labor process. This delivery would be limited to just my husband and I and the medical staff.
I still remember when my water broke while standing in our living room. My first thought was immediately, “oh shit…here we go!” While my husband drove us to the hospital, I couldn’t help but think that we were literally going to be walking into ground zero where the virus exists (dramatic I know, especially considering that labor and delivery at my hospital was in a completely different tower/building than all other patients). The last place I wanted to be in the months prior to my delivery was the hospital, especially since the Covid-19 numbers had been surging in my local county. Knowing that my first birth had some complications, a home birth was not an option for me, so I had to face my fears and venture into the one place I think everyone has been trying to avoid since the pandemic started.
I am happy to report that I delivered our second daughter at the end of July. The experience, staff and hospital exceeded my expectations and most importantly I felt like my family was safe and in good hands during the entire process. Huge shout-out to Hoag Hospital, my OB and the medical staff. Everyone was incredible!
Upon arriving home, I was flooded with questions from expecting moms wanting to know what the process was like. It is amazing to see that we all have the same concerns and questions. I did my best to share with each of them the positive experience my husband and I had. There is no sugarcoating it, this delivery was different, but to be honest the restrictions allowed my husband and I to grow closer and be more present since it was just the two of us.
Below are some of the topics I was asked about. Please note that things can vary from hospital to hospital so you will want to double check to see what the restrictions and policies are where you plan on delivering. I hope by sharing my experience, it will at least put your mind somewhat at ease and allow you to relax and enjoy this special moment in your life.
Be prepared to be tested upon being admitted to the hospital if you did not get a pre-op test. Unfortunately, I was lucky enough to get two tests in one day. (Hopefully you can sense my sarcasm here!) In the event you are going to be induced or have a scheduled c-section, you will be asked to go and get a Covid test completed as part of your pre-op admissions process. I had an induction scheduled for the upcoming Tuesday so the hospital requested I get a Covid test 5 days prior to being admitted. Of course, my baby had a mind of her own and decided she wanted to change the plan. I joked with my husband after my test on Thursday morning that it would be pretty funny if I went into labor now that I just had to go to Hoag Urgent Care to get a Covid test completed. The process of getting the test at our local urgent care was pretty simple. I drove up to a Covid testing line that was designated for pre-op patients only. The test took maybe 5 minutes once I arrived for my appointment and most of the time was spent confirming my information, doctor and date of my procedure.
Since my water broke a few hours later and my test results were not in yet, I had to get another Covid test when I arrived at the hospital. The test completed at the hospital is completed once you are admitted and checked in. These results come back within the hour. They did not test my husband just me. At this point, they are not testing significant others, but this could change in the future if things get worse.
Checking in and Arrival
Every hospital is different, but I will say Hoag made this process simple and easy. All pregnant women and their spouses go into a separate entrance of the hospital. Upon walking in your temperature gets checked and they ask if you are experiencing any symptoms. Me being locked down in my house for a few months and in active labor made the nurses and my husband laugh hysterically when my response to this simple question intended to be about Covid, was Ummm…yah my water broke! It had a way of lightening the mood, but the only thing on my mind was a baby is coming. We were escorted by a nurse up a private elevator to check in at labor and deliver. The only people we saw during this entire process were medical staff. We did not see a single other patient or spouse.
Everyone is asked to wear a mask while at the hospital. This is for the safety of you and those around you. When you are in your hospital room without medical staff present, you are more than welcome to take your mask off. We did. I was also allowed to take my mask of while laboring and delivering. I tried to keep mine on as a courtesy to the medical staff around me, but they seemed not to care if I was wearing it or not.
Unfortunately, visitors are a no go. Prior to delivery I was really bummed about this. It wasn’t until I checked in and the labor pains started to get intense that it was nice to not have anyone besides my husband around. When you are in labor you are in your most vulnerable state. I personally don’t like people seeing me like this. Having just my husband in the room, allowed me to feel more comfortable and relaxed compared to my first pregnancy since I could have a total meltdown in peace if I needed to.
Food for your Partner
Besides the celebration meal provided by the hospital, your partner is not permitted to order food along with your meals provided by the hospital. It is important to also note that food delivery services like Postmates, UberEats, etc. are not permitted to deliver to the hospital at this time as well. We saw this new rule in one of the emails sent out from the hospital, so we came prepared with snacks, protein shakes, etc. for my husband. Make sure to be prepared and pack extra food just in case your stay gets extended for some reason. We did not feel comfortable with my husband venturing down to the cafeteria and out of our room so make sure you bring enough food with you to last your entire visit.
Cord Blood and Tissue Pick-up
If you plan on banking your cord blood and/or tissue, the only major thing you need to know is that the courier cannot come up to the labor and delivery floor to get the kit like usual. Your spouse/significant other will have to meet them outside the hospital after the kit is prepared and ready for pick up to hand it off to the company rep.
This process was very similar to my first pregnancy. The nurse takes you down in a wheelchair while you hold your newborn in your arms. Your husband brings the car around and is waiting for you outside. The only major difference was, I did not have my family in toe, walking with me, videotaping the entire experience. We exited the hospital from the same designated entrance we arrived through. Just like when we arrived, we did not see anyone besides medical personnel. The nurse was nice and took a photo for us by the car so we could capture the moment. She watched as my husband placed our new baby in the car seat and on our way home we went.
Overall, after months of anticipation and anxiety, the entire experience was better than I could have ever imagined. There was no point in time where I felt like my husband, new baby and I were at risk. The medical staff at Hoag went above and beyond to make us feel comfortable and most importantly safe. Although dramatically different from my first pregnancy, this experience was uniquely special and for that I am truly grateful.