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A Mother's Day Unlike Any Other

Published in Birthing Services, OB/GYN Services, For the Health of It Author: CentraCare

The birth of your new baby should be one of the most joyful and memorable days of your life. That shouldn’t change even if he or she arrives during these uncertain times around the COVID-19 pandemic.

For some insight into the challenges that new moms are facing at these days, we consulted with Jena Orzechowski RNC-OB, BSN. Jena not only has worked as a nurse to support delivering moms and assist families for the past six years at CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital’s Family Birthing Center. She also is a new mom herself.

Her and her husband, Philip, welcomed their first baby — Cecilia — into the world on March 2. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Jena, wishing you all the best during your first Mother’s Day this upcoming weekend. How are you and Cecilia doing?

Jena: Thank you! Cecilia — we call her Cece — was born about a week and a half before her due date. We are starting to find our routine. As a first-time mom, it’s really difficult to know what is “normal” or not in those first few weeks — even being an obstetrics nurse. But we are thriving and doing well. We have had our share of speed bumps during our recovery, but like all new parents we found our resources and are continuously adjusting to a new schedule and way of life. Cecilia’s personality now is starting to show more each day and that has been extremely rewarding for us.

Q: When you were pregnant, how did coronavirus (COVID-19) change your birthing experience? And how were you able to accept these changes?

Jena: At the time we delivered, the restrictions were being whispered about but had not yet been implemented. That being said, we treated our hospital stay very similar to what currently is happening: my husband was the only one present at delivery. We did not have a doula, photographer or extended family members come visit us afterwards.

It wasn’t so much of a change in plans for us as it was a mindset change. I wanted nothing more than to have a safe, healthy baby and mother —which is my mantra when speaking with and caring for my own patients, regardless of a pandemic. I knew going in that my husband and I would treat this as our own experience and that we would get through it together — and I believe we are closer than ever because of it.

All of that being said, when we entered the labor and delivery room to have our daughter, nothing else mattered in those moments. Knowing that Cecilia was about to enter our lives was all we needed — the rest of the details are simply a blur and just that: details.

Q: How did you keep your family updated on how you and your baby were doing during and after your delivery?

Jena: Lots of phone calls, video sessions and text messages. My family and friends were wonderfully supportive in many ways: encouraging words, delivered meals, doorstep gifts. I will be forever grateful for all of those things.

On a more vulnerable note, those first few weeks with a newborn are incredibly challenging. Cabin fever, post-partum blues, having a baby during isolation and Stay at Home measures has been hard.

I encourage parents to reflect on their resources available to them. Calling another mom to vent, laugh, cry, whatever it may be. Go for a walk outside. Call the lactation consultant. Take a hot bath.

Be aware of the signs of postpartum depression and make sure your partner is as well. If your baby won’t stop crying and you feel yourself overwhelmed, set the baby in a safe place and step away for a few moments to clear your mind. For us, certain moments could feel so long. But the weeks and months have gone by so fast.

Q: The Family Birthing Center is still limiting visitors and it appears this could be the case for some time yet. When you return, how do you plan to interact with families under these conditions?

Jena: I will be returning to work this month to join my amazing co-workers in these crazy times.

I plan to encourage these parents and families to see this as a time to spend bonding with their newborn and focusing on the gain —not the loss. That being said, you are allowed to grieve the experience you may have dreamed about. Perhaps you wanted your sister there for delivery or you couldn’t wait for baby’s big brother to come visit.But I once had someone tell me, “You will never get these first 24-48 hours back with your new only experience that particular time period with them once.”

When I thought of it that way, I selfishly wanted to enjoy every snuggle and moment with my new baby! I encourage mothers and support persons to soak that time in and focus on the moment for what it is. Instead of what it could have been.

Q: What would you say was the most surprising or most unexpected thing about having a baby during these times?

Jena: I think it has been realizing that life keeps going even if it seems the world has stopped around you. I have had the opportunity to be home the last nine weeks and not miss a single milestone in Cecilia’s life. I initially saw the Stay at Home orders as a burden, but am now realizing in its own way — it was a gift to us. She keeps growing and changing every day. And we are so blessed to be home and healthy.

Birthing Classes - Now Available Online!

A series of birthing classes for expectant and new parents — covering labor and delivery, breastfeeding, newborn care and more — are available as part of a live online video class.
Participants will join via WebEx with a live instructor presenting the class material.
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