We are almost two years into the pandemic. As a human race, we have faced a lot the past couple years. Many lost their loved ones. Many suffered under the weight of isolation during nationwide and global shutdowns. Many are still living with complications from COVID-19. It’s been a scary and dark time. The world looks a little different these days, with lockdowns no longer in place and more resources for testing and information available. My greatest hope is that 2022 is a year of healing, and moving in the right direction for our new normal.

Family visit through the door during the pandemic - birthing rainbow babies during a pandemic

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

New normal. Those were words I’ve used before. Many times, actually.

After Teddy passed away, at just 22 weeks, I was forced to recognize my new normal. Because I realized I was no longer the person I was prior to becoming a mother. Prior to my first child passing away, before I could see him open his eyes, or hear his first cry. My new normal was coping with the fact that I had become a mother to an angel, and my heart will always be missing a piece. It took me a while to get back to a place where I didn’t feel so completely numb constantly, but I got there. And with my acceptance of my grief, came two little pink lines showing I was pregnant with our rainbow baby, Nathan, in June 2019.

Nathan’s pregnancy was filled with anxiety, excitement, tears, extra monitoring, 1000+ needle stabs (progesterone and insulin). It was anything but ordinary. I was offered a new job the same day I found out we were expecting, so I was going into new territory, with new faces and no one knew what my story was. I found myself working with a wonderful team and my news was welcomed with nothing but support. In February, COVID-19 was the talk of the office, with many mixed opinions. Personally, I wasn’t worried about anything until I had to. It hadn’t even hit Ohio then. My exquisite rainbow baby shower was held on March 1st, and I went about my days, preparing for Nathan’s arrival.

Mid-March, there was office talk of moving certain employees to work from home with the growing numbers in Ohio. With my pregnancy a concern, I was one of the first. I began my setup and worked a total of two days before we found out Nathan was coming a whole month early! 34 hours of labor and a c-section later, my heart was exploding with pure joy.

Our rainbow baby had arrived, hand-picked by his brother in heaven.

After a while of admiring our newest addition, we were getting ready to go to the post-partum floor when my mom was told if she left, she couldn’t return. They were shutting the visitor list down to one support person. The day after Nathan was born, Ohio issued the stay-at-home order.

Nathan only met a handful of our family before we decided to self-quarantine, a week or so after we arrived home. COVID-19 was SO new, so unknown, and we had a preemie baby in our arms. After losing Teddy nothing in this world would have kept us from keeping Nathan safe. So we shut down and stayed home, just like the order said.

For three months, if it wasn’t a visit from the front door or in the driveway, we didn’t see anyone in person besides Nathan’s doctor.

Family Zoom during the pandemic

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

Daily Facetime calls with my mom and bestie kept me sane. It was a really wild time. I was thankful for the technology to keep in touch. There were no breaks, no running out to get a few minutes to myself while a loved one snuggled my little guy. I was missing our loved ones, our parents, my siblings, my best friend. I was mothering this little bundle of love, feeling guilty that I didn’t get to have this experience with Teddy, and feeling crazy for having those feelings at all, getting stuck inside my own head.

Nathan meets family during a pandemic

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

I FINALLY got to bring a baby home, my rainbow baby, after everything we’d been through and I couldn’t share him with the world, because the world was so terrifying. As much contact technology had brought us, it was an incredibly isolating time and I felt robbed in a sense, of the normal experience of bringing a newborn home. The world didn’t give us much of a choice.

Hugs after lockdown

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

It was the most wonderful feeling when we started seeing loved ones again. Watching family and friends begin to hold our sweet boy and give him all the love they were storing up for him. Finally hugging my own mom, after not having any physical contact since the day Nathan was born. It was worth the wait to keep him safe in a time of uncertainty, but I wish I could have the time we missed back. Time I don’t plan on missing out on with Delilah.

Nathan meets family during a pandemic

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

So here we are, just 7 short weeks away from meeting our pot of gold, our final child that we will bring into this world together.

Never did I ever think I’d be bringing home not one, but two babies during a pandemic. The pandemic may still be ongoing, but I’m so thankful we aren’t bringing her home in the same circumstances as we did with Nathan. I’m also just thankful that I’ll be bringing another baby home. I’m cautiously optimistic that Teddy’s making sure his sister comes home safe and sound, too.

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