“Thriving Beyond” was created with the intention of educating, uplifting, and empowering its readers. I also wanted this space to serve as a catalyst for conversations and a platform to amplify stories. Statistics provides one perspective of the narrative of maternal health in the United States. It is with personal stories and lived experiences that truly show the impact.
I am excited to share with you the “Thriving Beyond COVID” Series. These next few blog posts will focus on stories of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood.
I am humbled by the trust that these women have given me to share their story with the world. I admire their strength, and vulnerability to share some of their most personal experiences.
“Becoming pregnant is quite possibly one of the most mind-boggling experiences. However, being pregnant during a pandemic is an entirely different beast. I somehow found myself expecting a baby girl in the midst of a COVID world.
I work as a second-grade teacher and while our school is well-equipped and has the capacity to facilitate social distancing and regular hand-washing, I found myself walking into my classroom every day more nervous than the next. I was surrounded by well-intended children reaching out to hug their teacher or to find comfort. I often felt paralyzed with fear not wanting to hurt them or my unborn child. On a daily basis, I struggled with returning to work and prioritizing my health.
At the end of every school day, I would wave goodbye to my students unsure if I would see them the next day. I found it nearly impossible to plan lessons that were differentiated and intentional as I did in the past. The burden and the responsibility of maintaining the safety of children and myself became overwhelming. While my administrators advocated for teachers’ well-being and safety, it felt like an unspoken commitment. I had to keep up a façade and remain calm and positive while student facing. This felt like an impossible task. Every cough, sneeze and sniffle for my students had a debilitating echo.
There were days when I was nervous about taking my mask off in the classroom to drink water. I constantly thought about the long-term effects on my pregnancy. Each doctor visit that I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat felt like nothing short of a miracle.
When the vaccine became available for teachers and pregnant women, I was extremely hesitant due to the lack of safety and efficacy data. I felt like I was often back at square one, wondering if I would be hurting my baby. Finally, with the guidance of several infectious disease doctors and nurses, I made the decision to get vaccinated. And the truth is I still don’t know if I did the right thing.
I say all of this to simply say: since I became pregnant during the pandemic, I have prayed every day to hear my baby’s heartbeat or feel her kick. I feel nervous about the long-term effects both on my mental health and on my unborn child. I have never relied more on research, faith, and mindfulness.
On the last day of school, I waved goodbye to my students with a sigh of relief. We made it somehow.
I will be forever grateful that we were just lucky enough to have survived.”
-Sasha K, 6.21.2021
In sharing her story, Sasha touched on a few topics in public health as it relates to COVID-19: vaccine hesitancy, maternal mental health, and health of pregnant women during COVID-19.