‘Not being able to see anyone and share the fun and joy of pregnancy…is so sad’

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The coronavirus is disrupting pregnancy plans and raising anxiety for expectant mothers. Doctors say more study is needed to know the effects of the virus on a fetus and baby. (March 31) AP Domestic

For Marikje Shelmandine this pregnancy hasn’t been anything like her first. 

The Jericho native has endured sleeping troubles, a much bigger baby, Braxton-Hicks (false labor) pains, and discomfort from the baby’s position aggravating her hip dysplasia. 

And, her dad is not here. 

Her father, who passed nearly two years ago, was the “biggest baby whisperer,” according to Shelmandine. When her daughter was born 3 1/2 years ago, “we had to ask him to leave because he wouldn’t share the baby with anyone.” To this day a picture of her father holding her newborn daughter adorns their walls — it is blown up poster size and is one of their favorites because “the joy on his face is palpable.”

“We not only don’t have him, but we don’t have anyone,” Shelmandine said of how restrictions of social distancing in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the pregnancy experience.

“Last time was magical.” Shelmandine said they had eight people in the waiting room and there was lots of excitement with visitors, gifts, flowers, food and cake.

This time will be quiet. Only husband, Steve, will be allowed to accompany her at the hospital and celebrate the new arrival. “I mourned, I grieved that whole picture perfect you bring your first child in to meet the baby in the hospital moment,” she said. “We don’t get to have that.”

Still, the home isolation has created extra time for family togetherness with her husband and toddler before the baby’s arrival. She acknowledges they are in a better position than many with her husband, a restorer of classic airplanes, being able to work from home due to his boss’ generosity.

Her own work of trying to keep alive the homemade sauce business she inherited from her father may not escape the clutches of the pandemic, however.

“It’s sad to think this might be the end of something.” 

In among the endings of things, though, there is beginning. They are joyous and grateful to have something wonderful to which to look forward.

The new baby is expected April 30. Just as the desolation of winter subsides, new spring life blooms.

Contact April Barton at abarton@freepressmedia.com or 802-660-1854. Follow her on Twitter @aprildbarton.

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