toddler wearing yellow ribbon close-up photography
Photo by Gift Habeshaw via Unsplash

During this season of Coronavirus, COVID-19, my father’s side of the family has two new members. Two of my first cousins have welcomed baby girls within nine months of each other. The first was born in January of this year and the second was born during this month, October. For my baby cousin born this past January, I had planned to visit my hometown of Savannah, Georgia in mid-March, but that is when this global pandemic showed us what it could do and the first round of restrictions was put in place not too long after.

I am fond of new life. I am a fan of witnessing the births of babies and showering them with trinkets and necessities upon their arrival. Being that I am five hours away from my hometown, traveling home was always a one to two times per year investment, however, those tables have turned drastically. I have not or will probably not be home for the foreseeable future which cuts me out of witnessing the growth of these two bundles of joy unless . . . it’s through digital devices and photographs.

I am blessed to be able to watch various stages of each take form by way of digital media or hear about their constant shifts in life through the voices of their parents. Had this not been a resource to use, I would be completely in the dark. And I don’t think I’d like that at all.

As much as I appreciate the gift of new life, giving birth during a global pandemic–must be five times more stressful than without one. I have so many questions for women who are pregnant or those new to motherhood. How did you manage to stay safe? What additional precautions are you taking/have you taken? What will you do to ensure your newborn doesn’t contract the Coronavirus, COVID-19? Will you allow any family to visit and if so, whom?

Rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection in neonates do not appear to be affected by mode of delivery, method of infant feeding, or contact with a mother with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. All neonates born to mothers with suspected or confirmed infection should be considered as having suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection when test results are not available.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 3, 2020.

Hospitals and outpatient facilities in most states test their patients prior to any invasive procedures or surgeries, so it’s safe to assume that any woman going into labor has been tested prior to delivery and will be tested again before leaving the hospital. All precautions are in place for both baby and new mom, but how can we be sure?

According to Woloshin, several recent studies have highlighted a significant rate of false negatives, particularly if the test is administered soon after exposure to the virus. In these cases, tests may not capture viral material because there is not yet enough virus in the person to be picked up. It’s also possible that poor testing technique can miss any virus that is there.

Laurie Saloman, ContagionLive, August 14, 2020

These false negatives spring up a fear in me that did not reside there before learning about them, but knowing that my family relies on these testing methods just as many more do as well, lends significant room to that fear. I want to believe in modern medicine just as I believe in the digital methods provided to us by way of technology advancement over the recent years. I have faith in modern medicine.

I won’t be able to celebrate these two beautiful additions to our family in person, at least, not right now and maybe not in the next several months. But I do have the capability to communicate with them in what has become the most practical way: through the digital world.

Keeping my distance from others, respecting my city and state’s guidelines, and taking all precautions so that one day, I’ll be able to travel home to connect with these babies is of the utmost importance. I am satisfied with this form of connectivity. It’s the only thing I can use to remain informed.

And for now, I will cherish it.