When I was 8-months pregnant with twins, my best friend, Kate, took me for lunch at a café in West Hollywood called The Sycamore Kitchen. When we were finished, she held my arm and helped me waddle down the street and around the corner to pick up my car at the valet. As we approached the valet stand, an SUV pulled up and out jumped David Beckham with his daughter. He immediately noticed my bump, quickly stepped aside to make room for me and said “congratulations!” with a warm smile. “Thank you,” I tried to reply casually while DIGGING MY NAILS into Kate’s arm. He took his daughter’s hand and walked off to the restaurant while I tried not to go into labor at the valet stand.
I’m sharing this story for 3 reasons 1) David Beckham is FLAWLESS in person 2) David Beckham officially blessed my twins 3) David Beckham is not the only stranger who wished me “congratulations” on my first pregnancy. In fact, in 2017, that happened every single day. “Twins! How exciting!” exclaimed the baristas at Starbucks. “Sleep NOW because you’ll never sleep AGAIN!” advised the librarian. “Can I touch your bump?” asked a stranger at the hair salon, rubbing my belly without permission. I used to hate the comments from strangers, the unsolicited advice, the uninhibited touching. But now, I’m ashamed to admit, I miss it.
Being pregnant during a pandemic is a lot of things: it’s scary, it’s challenging, but above all, it’s lonesome. Without the constant acknowledgment of strangers, without seeing friends or family, without moving through the world with a growing baby bump, it feels like I’m keeping a strange secret. Even after announcing my news with the world, and posting pictures and sharing videos- when I shut my camera off, I sit in silence —in my home, looking down at my belly that no one can see, getting up with a grunt that no one can hear.
I wish I was the kind of person who could find peace in this isolation. I wish I could embrace this moment in time as an opportunity to shut out all the noise and form a quiet connection with my unborn child. But I have come to shamefully acknowledge that I am not that person. As it turns out, when I’m growing a human being in my body; I need attention, I need social validation, I need to feel cute in a maternity jean. Without that, I sometimes forget that I’m pregnant, and I never take a moment to celebrate it. Even if it’s with the baristas at Starbucks.
Not only do I miss sharing my pregnancy with strangers, I miss sharing it with my husband. Sure, Evan helps me lumber around the house and listens to me complain about my back and marvels at my ability to take down a pint of ice cream. But because of Covid-19 restrictions, he hasn’t been able to come with me to a single doctor’s appointment.
I go alone. I sit on the exam table masked and alone, I listen to our baby’s heartbeat alone. I look at the ultrasound alone. I get the good news alone. I get the bad news alone. I even document the experience alone. I have started taking pictures in the doctor’s office for no one but me. Almost to prove that this actually happened. To have physical evidence that this baby actually grew in my stomach. That I actually did this, even if no one was there with me.
During my last ultrasound, as my doctor pointed out my baby’s features from behind her mask and face shield, I marveled at its tiny unmasked face, floating in its own little Covid-bubble. That’s when I was struck by the irony. During a year where we’ve all had to isolate and social distance and stay away from our loved ones, I’ve had my most beloved one with me the entire time. This pregnancy has felt deeply lonely and yet, I have never actually been alone.
And so, I’ve started to try and appreciate my little companion, to hold this baby through my belly when I feel alone and think about him or her as I move through the world on my own. I’m trying be ok with it when no one is there to feel the kicks, or take the photos or say “congratulations” at the valet. I’m trying to feel content in the uniqueness of this experience, and above all, to look forward to the magic that has yet to come.
Like all of us, it’s been over a year since I’ve had any physical contact with my loved ones. It’s been over a year since I’ve hugged my mom, rested my head on my dad’s shoulder, or linked arms with my best friend, Kate. But in a matter of months, when I deliver this baby, he or she will be one of the only people on earth that I will get to hug. That I will get to kiss. That I will get to hold in my arms- tightly, fearlessly, never letting go. And surrounded by masked doctors and masked nurses, after a year of moving through the world alone and experiencing pregnancy in isolation… in that moment, I know I won’t feel so lonely anymore.
Thank you for being here and sharing in this journey with me- I’ll be keeping you updated, right here at newmomwhodis.com, and in my newsletter (sign up HERE) on ALL THE THINGS, ALL ALONG THE WAY. I am so grateful for the love and support of this New Mom, Who Dis? Community and I can’t wait to do this whole New Mom thing all over again, with you by my side. xo jessi