I wrote this post a few weeks ago. I was inspired to share the feeling of hope I experienced when Rosalie met her grandma for the very first time. So here it is. This is how the other side of the pandemic feels to me.
And all the anxiety and hope that goes along with that…..
Back to Family
Like many of us, it’s been a year since I’ve seen pretty much anyone. Most notably, my mom. Over a year, actually. I didn’t see her my entire pregnancy and now it’s almost eight months into this motherhood thing.
Well, finally, thanks to the vaccine and new CDC recommendations, my mom was able to see us again —- and that meant meeting her new granddaughter, Rosalie, for the first time.
Here is my reflection from that day….
A Big Day
I’m sitting on my bathroom floor. Steam circles me. My body is calm and warm. The fan hums above. The tub chugs along, draining soapy water in a swirl. The door is closed. And for the first time all day it feels — quiet. I can hear my own breath.
I should quickly pull on my pajamas and get back to mom-ing. Dinner and bedtime. But instead, since my husband is playing with Rosalie, I’m holding onto this quiet for a few minutes. I grab my phone. Pull up a text pad, and start writing my thoughts about this big day we all had…
Today, Rosalie met grandma (my mom) for the first time (in person).
Baby + Grandma Meetup
The doorbell rang. Rosalie, on my hip, warmly tangled in my arms, swooped her face towards mine. I’m sure she was thinking that the doorbell meant the usual — a package, a bundle of groceries.
This time, I opened the door to a person. “Rosalie, look, it’s Grandma!” I squealed in an overly-excited way. My mom removed her mask to show off her gleaming smile, giddy face.
Rosalie’s big eyes peeled back into a wide and silent stare. What is happening?
And then, this new person, grandma, entered our home. Our cozy safe space. Our pandemic hideaway.
We have a house guest! Rosalie was shook.
As my mom moved closer to us, I cradled Rosalie tightly, rubbed her back, bounced her gently.
Rosalie’s mouth gaped open. But it wasn’t fear. It was awe. Wonder. Curiosity. Her mouth curled into a smile. And then a giggle. Her nose crinkled and her eyes brightened.
It felt like an adrenaline rush of happy. For all of us.
For me, the other side of the pandemic, has some anxiety built in.
So meeting grandma meant my anxiety needed a minute. My senses were on alert and my shoulders were tense.
Getting Used to People Again
After a year of avoiding anyone and everyone. Giving birth in a pandemic. Wearing face masks when out. And barely leaving the house for months on end. Shunning food delivery. Telling FedEx to sign for me – through the closed door. All that.
After all that, suddenly —- an unmasked person was inside our home.
Yeah, it was my mom. And yes she was fully vaccinated. But still.
I needed a minute.
I told my mom I was anxious about this. She understood. Extra hand washes. No kisses and careful hugs. All so I could ease into this a bit more comfortably.
Pandemic Muscle Memory
So why the anxiety? Well, it’s something I think we are all going to be dealing with for a while. There have recently been articles popping up about the post-pandemic anxiety wave.
“How to Handle Post-Pandemic Anxiety” – VOGUE
Call it muscle memory. Call it a 2020 reflex.
Like a bad hangover, my body was screaming, “Put on a mask and open all the windows! Where’s the hand sanitizer??” It was a hands on my cheeks, Home Alone aftershave scream sort of moment for my insides.
Well here’s the hopeful part For you!…
Back to Normal…
In this particular situation, my anxiety didn’t last. It quickly faded. Like jitters from one too many shots of espresso. It was uncomfortable, but then it passed.
And soon my pre-pandemic muscle memory kicked in! This monumental visit felt, well, incredibly normal. As if we took a time machine back to 2019.
And now, a few weeks later, we’ve been with my mom many times (she actually moved closer to us, hooray!) and it is all very normal to be around her.
Sure, that tinge of anxiety lingers, but it has mostly faded.
And Rosalie just knows one thing, she loves seeing grandma! Pandemic, who?
So yeah. Within minutes of first meeting a new person, Rosalie was back to herself.
Trying to stand up on everything.
Crawling, chasing the cats.
Pulling plugs out. (Eesh.)
Pulling at her hankies in a box.
Stuffing Sophie the Giraffe in her mouth.
Grabbing for mommy.
Laughing at all the same jokes, songs, bounces.
There was SO much pressure built up to this day and then, life went on. As it did before the pandemic.
Post Pandemic Life for New Moms
New World. New Identity.
The other side of the pandemic will be especially poignant for new moms like me. We have been through an unforgettable journey that has impacted our identity at the very core.
The world has changed and so have we.
Women go through a molding process, a weighty transition in the time they are pregnant and postpartum.
For me personally, I have changed so much.
My values. Priorities. Strength. My view of the world.
Yet also, I am still 100% me.
It’s an odd balance of losing yourself, and finding yourself all at the same time.
And none of that transition was meant to be done in isolation. It was meant to be supported by friends and family, fellow moms and best friends. So there is a lot of reconnecting that I see in my future. And not in a “lets go grab coffee and reconnect” casual way. But a, big hug, deep talk, look at this new person I am and new most important person in my life type way.
Yet even though the catch up chatter seems enormous, I know that my deeply connected friends and family will just click into place – muscle memory of pre-2020 will renew and the catchup process will be pretty much instant.
At least that is the hope I have because of how it happened with me and my mom.
How Motherhood Changes You
I recently read this article in the Atlantic about pandemic pregnancies. There’s a line about how ‘no one knows this new person I’ve become’ – on the other side of the pandemic – after having a baby.
I’m still me. Yet different. I have a softer core, yet a harder shell.
I see further and I feel harder.
I’m able to make decisions faster. My intuition is stronger. Like lightning in my chest when I need it.
I am still Kathy. But now I’m also Rosalie’s mom.
It’s A LOT. But it’s also so simple.
The other side of the pandemic..
So to close, IMO, the other side of the pandemic is actually just lot of … normalcy. Movies and hugs. Friend time and long chats. Muscle memory for all our old fave things.
I think the one thing that will get us through this transition period will be eachother. We all have healing to go through. Let’s be extra careful with each others hearts, extra kind, extra understanding. And maybe even extra honest….
Extra Honest Too..
If I find myself unable to connect with certain people or old fave things or work activities or just anything pre-2020, I will feel free to distance myself a bit. We are all a little (or a lot) different this year later. So how we interact with the world and people is bound to changed as well.
I’m going to try to be kind to myself and give myself grace to do what I need to to take care of myself and my new little person, Rosalie too. She comes first now.
So fakeness, wasted time and negativity are just all things I do not want to bring into her life. Authenticity, joy, silliness, honesty and bravery — and a DGAF attitude for living life — bring it on.
Let Gratitude Lead the Way
And lastly, embrace the gratitude for being on the other side of COVID. I know we will get there. The vaccine has brought me so much hope. It’s life changing.
I’m so excited about doing boring things like grocery shopping and going to a spa, a salon, getting a massage! I’m also so excited about big things. Disneyland and airplane travel. Hotel stays and holidays with loved ones. Gratitude is going to be the shining star in this new world. I hope I continue to recognize my gratitude in making all the old things new again.
I hope you are feeling excited about the future and I hope that the pain and loss you may have experienced during this past year will find healing —— and out of all the grief, something beautiful, new and maybe even BETTER – can be born.