In January, my husband and I received the joyous yet slightly daunting news that we were going to be first-time parents. Less than two months later COVID-19 spread to South Africa and massive panic seemed to erupt.
South Africa was placed under total lockdown at the end of March. Though it’s not ideal to be pregnant during what feels like the “corona Armageddon”, I like the fact that I can work from home and skip the traffic. While others are hoarding up and rationing their whiskey and wine, the ban on the sale and transport of alcohol hasn’t bothered me. It’s not like I can drink anyway.
Dad-to-be instincts prove to be top-notch
The downside of being pregnant during lockdown is that my husband is extremely paranoid about me becoming sick and consequently won’t allow me to put one foot outside the front door! Although I understand that this is because he cares for me and our baby, I have begun to envy him his trips to the local grocery store. The only time I’m allowed out of the house is for the monthly check-up at the gynaecologist. I suspect if there was an option to do the sonar on zoom, he probably would have insisted we opt for that!
However, with technology not being that advanced yet, I began marking the scheduled visits on my calendar and counting the days until I would be allowed outside. When the day arrived for my 21-week check-up, I was as excited as a toddler that pulled his first tooth.
Never has the outside been so wonderful
The site of trees, houses and even red traffic lights causes me unbridled joy and I feel like a dog pushing my nose against the window and wagging my tail at the human beings in other cars. Driving into the hospital parking, I don’t object to a mask being placed over my mouth and nose. On arrival, we have to wait in the car until the doctor’s receptionist phones us and invites us in. During the lockdown, more than one couple is not allowed in the waiting room, as part of precautions to curb the spread of the virus.
We get the call and move toward the main entrance of the hospital. People are standing in a queue at the door, each a few feet apart, waiting to be admitted. We reach the front where we to fill out a form. “Have you recently returned from abroad?” “Do you have any flu-like symptoms?” “Did you recently test positive for Covid-19?” I indicate “no” to all the above and have my temperature checked. My husband gets stopped by a short, stout nurse, two angry eyes staring out from above her mask. “Only the patient,” she says. With a dejected look on his face and hunched shoulders, he turns around and heads back to the car.
Safety first, emotions later
I am disappointed as well. Although it doesn’t seem like much, there is something extremely special about seeing your very first child in the making moving on a black and white screen. After all, you are only a first-time-parent once in your life.
At the doctor’s office, I explain our predicament to the receptionist and she immediately picks up the phone and dials the number for the main reception. “No, that’s absurd. Tell him to try again. If they give him any trouble, he can just tell them he has an appointment with Dr Barnard.”
A few minutes later, after my blood pressure and weight is taken, my relieved looking hubby steps into the doctor’s office. A few drops of perspiration showing on his forehead indicates that he must have taken the steps two at a time.
I smile through my mask and get onto the bed, ready for the examination. Minutes later our baby appears on the screen. We can just make out the shape of his head and a little hand raised in what looks like a greeting. My husband and I smile at each other, sharing this rare moment and committing it to memory. It might be challenging to be pregnant during the lockdown, but at least, we’ll have tons of stories to tell.
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