Over the last several years, many profound experiences that typically would be shared with loved ones were lost in the pandemic. Rachel Poston of Milwaukee experienced this when her husband wasn’t allowed to come with her to any of her appointments.
Poston shared her story as part of the Pandemic Pregnancy Project, which is documenting the stories of families and their babies and how they’ve been affected by COVID-19.
Editor’s note: This story contains language that may be inappropriate for some audiences.
We had a Zoom meeting with our friend group, and one of them was pregnant. And she’s just not feeling a connection, because she’s not showing yet, and doesn’t feel any movement. My husband was saying that he understood because he didn’t feel that connection with our pregnancy. It really made me think.
During my entire pregnancy, at my clinic in Milwaukee County, I couldn’t have a guest at any of my appointments. Disappointed is an understatement. I lost that opportunity to have that bond with my husband, experiencing these new milestones in our pregnancy, especially to hear her heartbeat.
When he was not allowed in, it was isolating for him, so his perspective on my friend’s lack of connection to her pregnancy didn’t surprise me. He saw the anatomy scan through a very blurry FaceTime. The realization that I’m here in the clinic with only the ultrasound tech, hearing that I’m having a girl for the first time — we both wanted a girl — there were moments when it didn’t feel as real as it could, or complete.
My husband and I got jealous because we heard other people’s partners were able to go to their appointments because they were at a different hospital or a different county with different restrictions. We were told that maybe if we went to another county, maybe my partner could come with me. Or even in Milwaukee, just switch OB’s to a different hospital or a different network. But I thought, “Why would I want to give up this OB who’s known me for years, who I trust, who I love?”
Things start to look up. At 30 weeks, although COVID was still rampant, my OB tells me that my husband can go to the growth scan after I’d already scheduled it. I didn’t know this when I scheduled that growth scan. Maybe the schedulers just forgot to tell me, or they assumed I knew that the rules had changed. So I called the scheduler to make sure this change is correct because I don’t want to bring my partner all the way downtown to find out he can’t go inside.
On the phone she tells me, “No, the rules changed. He can’t come in. He could have come to your first ultrasound. When was your first ultrasound?” My first ultrasound was in October, to which she says, “Oh, no, he wouldn’t have been allowed to come in then. The rules have changed so much.”
I know these changes were out of their hands, but it was hard to hear. I wondered, “Why are you telling a pregnant woman who’s coming in at 30 weeks, that her husband could have been there at the first ultrasound? Then to take it back and say he still cannot come and expect me to feel emotionally ok about that back and forth?”
I sat in the waiting room, called my husband and told him, “You can’t come.” He says, “Oh, it’s fine. It’s not a big deal. I haven’t been there for all of them.” Finally knowing this conversation won’t bring him here, I start to cry. As I’m sitting in the waiting room, waiting to go in for an ultrasound, I see a couple come out, a wife and husband, going on their way. I remind myself that it’s probably their first ultrasound, the rules have changed. It’s great that he can be there, that someone else can experience what I wasn’t allowed to.
My husband did get to hear her when I had a false alarm and thought my water broke. So at least for the final big moments we made it work. The world still continues. When our daughter was born, he was there. They put her on my chest and I just looked at her and said, “You’re gonna be one bad-a– b—.”
My OB was shocked. I’m part of reclaiming that word. And, my husband was there to witness this moment. After I’d done this amazing thing of giving birth, we felt bad-a–.