Mother’s Day In A Pandemic Brings Mixed Emotions

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ENFIELD, NY (WSKG) – For new mothers having a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought some joy and some disappointment.

Lately, Elizabeth Gabriel has been taking walks around her family’s farm with her son. Aydin is almost eight weeks old.

Courtesy The Gabriels

Elizabeth and Steve Gabriel with their son, Aydin. (Photo courtesy The Gabriel Family)

Looking across her rural property, Gabriel said she can see her neighbors working on their garden and soon her family will be able to take a dip in the two-acre pond near their house.

“It’s a pretty wonderful spot to feel safe and away from the virus stuff and to be outside and take our son outside into the fresh air,” she said.

Aydin was born just a few days after New York went on “pause” because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gabriel and her husband, Steve, are first-time parents.

It was not easy for the couple to become pregnant. They tried for over two years. All that was after Gabriel survived cancer at 35. They had planned for a home birth, but Aydin had other plans. He was born almost a month early and had to spend a few days in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before coming home to the farm.

There are some things a pandemic doesn’t change about becoming a mother. Gabriel said it can be exhausting.

“And then that’s mixed with the most magical, wonderful, sweet experiences of like, you know, this, this new life, this new guy who’s so cute and special,” she said.

Theresa Murphy’s experience is similar. She just had her second child three weeks ago.

Theresa Murphy

Theresa Murphy and her husband with their three-week-old daughter. This is their second child. (Photo courtesy Theresa Murphy)

Murphy had a lot of questions this time that she didn’t need to ask with her first pregnancy. Her advice to other women about to give birth during this pandemic is to ask their obstetrician every question they have.

In New York, hospitals must allow women to have a support person with them when they give birth.

Murphy said her husband is working at home because of the pandemic and able to help out more with the children. He’s a teacher in Binghamton.

“I’m trying to look at the positive side of things with everything going on,” she said. “At least, I have my husband, we have a lot of family time.”

Every Sunday they usually have dinner with her in-laws. Those have stopped. Murphy said their 20-month-old is too young to understand what’s happening. The toddler misses her grandparents a lot, even with online video chats.

There’s always had a big Mother’s Day celebration for her mother who lives nearby. Murphy’s from a family of seven.

This year she said they’ll be gathering online. She’ll probably cook something special for her mother, but leave it on the doorstep. In addition to her new baby’s health, Murphy’s being protective of her mother, who has glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Back at the Gabriel’s farm, Elizabeth also thinks about when her son can meet their whole family. So, far she said only one grandmother who lives in the area has held him. Just for that one visit she self-quarantined for about a month.

Gabriel has only left the farm twice since her son got home from the hospital. Idyllic as she thinks it is, there is a downside.

“It’s easy to feel alone, we’re in this blissful place, with this new baby but […] I’ve literally spent the entire day nursing or pumping and eat[ing] and going to the bathroom if I get a moment,” Gabriel said.

Connecting with friends and family more online has helped. Gabriel also joined a new mom’s group that holds weekly meetings by video chat.

Aydin was born a few weeks early, but is doing fine. He’s due for a routine check up with his doctor next week.

That will be online.