COVID-19 Global Diaries: 'What it's like having a baby in a pandemic'

New mum Dora Kránicz lives in Hungary and admits the first few weeks with a newborn is a sort of quarantine itself, she also reveals living under the threat of the coronavirus makes even this very different

For three days after my daughter’s birth on 22 February, my partner wasn’t allowed to visit us. The coronavirus panic was peaking, and with hindsight it was probably not the best idea to immerse myself in the articles, but I did exactly that.

It all seemed quite distant from my hospital bed, and in those early days it actually was, at least geographically. So my reaction was similar to the one I have when reading about shocking news that doesn’t really concern me: immediately after putting my phone aside I’d forget about the whole thing.

But as the days passed, I found myself reading one coronavirus-related article after the other, with growing unease, paying extra attention to cases involving babies. Of course it somewhat reassured me that the virus mostly spares children but I was fully aware that my less than a week-old daughter was just in the process of building up her immune system. Not to mention the fact that in my post-caesarean, heavily sleep-deprived state I didn’t consider my own immune status very satisfactory.

baby in a pandemic

Dora Kránicz when she was pregnant

Still, I was really looking forward to finally going home and starting my new life as a mum. I’d hadn’t planned anything apart from resting and expecting the first visitors to arrive. I was really looking forward to my visitors, to showing off my baby girl. But as the crisis grew more and more urgent, in the enclosed space of our small flat I felt defenceless. When news broke of the first cases in Hungary, I’m not embarrassed to say that I was afraid, so we started to cancel our would-be visitors.

My own mother visited us wearing a face mask, and after a careful hand-sanitizing session she was able to look at my daughter, her granddaughter – from a distance of two metres. It was bizarre and sad. She’d been waiting for so long for this special precious moment and she couldn’t even hold her first granddaughter in her arms.

For some time I didn’t want to admit that this whole situation had taken such a toll on me, although I think being locked inside a flat played an important part in this. Of course we would’ve spent the first few weeks in the flat anyway, except everybody in Hungary is doing the same. Hello pandemic, you’ve really transformed motherhood for me.

I knew being a new mum would be both mentally and physically exhausting. I knew it would be stressful. But I never knew I would have to embrace motherhood without the physical presence of my family and friends to help show me the way (my baby girl will be least three or four months old when she’s held by others). And without the freedom of going out whenever I desired. From now on I’ll worry about the virus. And maybe even after it has been defeated, I’ll keep on worrying. This is my reality of having a newborn in a pandemic. This is my introduction to motherhood.

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