By Maria Molland, CEO of Thinx Inc.
Note: We’d like to congratulate Maria Molland, our fearless CEO, on the birth of her healthy baby born last week. Here are some thoughts she shared about preparing to give birth in these *unique* times.
I gave birth to my daughter, Inga, just before I joined the team at Thinx Inc. A significant contributor to my interest in the brand was, of course, the product, but also how Thinx was starting frank discussions about the normal things our bodies do that no one else wanted to talk about — menstruation, incontinence, aging, fertility, and more.
2-and-a-half years after I had my miracle baby, I happily became pregnant again with #2 in August of last year. Throughout my fertility journey, the one thing I never saw coming, like everyone else, was a global pandemic.
As an expectant mother with a high-risk pregnancy, I had a bad feeling about the early reports of COVID-19. Specifically, the stories coming from other pregnant people in Wuhan. I’m a single parent, and before the pandemic, my birth plan included my own parents traveling from California to where I live in New York City, to help out with Inga and my son after he was born. But as news of COVID-19 spreading around the United States broke, I knew that there was no chance I would feel comfortable asking my 71-year-old parents to get on a plane in May when I am due — so I decided to go to them.
I was still recovering from an ear infection, but rather than wait until it was safe to book a flight, I rented a car, and drove my daughter and our cat, Cali, across the country to my parents’ home in Sonoma. The journey was challenging, as I assume it would have been even if I hadn’t been eight months pregnant, but four-and-a-half days later, we reached the West Coast. Still, there are many other things about my birth plan that have changed in the last few weeks:
For example, while the regulations around having birth partners accompany pregnant people have mostly been lifted, I will still be choosing to give birth alone — I can’t ask my parents or my siblings to risk their health, that would probably just cause more stress for me than the actual birth, anyway. But I am concerned about what the birth process will look like, in terms of keeping my son and me healthy, and also what happens after we leave the hospital. How long should I wait before my parents, my brothers, and their families see him? How long will I have to self-quarantine? I still have a lot of unanswered questions.
I could not be more thankful for the privileges I know aren’t guaranteed to everyone in my situation: access to employment and parental leave, and even the ability to be surrounded by my family — but I’ll be honest, nothing really makes planning to give birth in this very specific climate less nerve-wracking. Giving birth in general comes with its own anxieties, many of which I expected, but giving birth during COVID-19 has made way for a whole slew of worries that I’ve had to grapple with.
Being pregnant during this pandemic has been a crash course for me in learning to rely on and accept support from other people — especially other new and expectant parents. I’ve been comforted by knowing that I am not alone in feeling this way. Last week, I hosted a gathering of expecting parents (on Zoom, of course), and we discussed our fears togethers. Now, when everyone is avoiding hospitals at all costs, some women were thinking about exploring options for home births. Others, like me, are planning for limited support during and after birth. No matter what any of us decide, we’re all united by navigating pregnancy and parenthood in this truly unprecedented time.
I want to continue sharing my worries, anxieties, highs, and lows with other expecting parents, and create space for them to do the same. Pregnancy is a life-changing, unpredictable experience as-is, and adding on a pandemic definitely doesn’t make it any simpler. I have no doubt that other parents and parents-to-be could use a little extra support these days just as much as me.
Are you an expecting parent? How have you been handling the challenges this pandemic has created for pregnant people? Join the conversation in the comments, and check out the Thinx Moms Room on Facebook.
Maria is the CEO of Thinx Inc.