Christina Rey is pregnant, an occasion that, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, calls for both joy and concern. The joy of new life is one that eclipses most things, but it’s not without its trepidations. Christina is 22, trying to finish school, and the current state of the world rests in the tiny hands of the spherical particles that cause the Coronavirus. And much like the virus, Christina’s reaction to the pregnancy is an ever-mutating thing that has left her simultaneously scared, lonely, and excited. Nurturing herself and the baby are top priorities but being pregnant during a pandemic has undoubtedly shaped that experience.
“I am 9 weeks pregnant. I found out I was pregnant a week before the precautions for the coronavirus started. Quarantine was nice at first, it gave me time to think about what I wanted to do about my pregnancy. I wasn’t sure if I was going to commit to being a young mom,” said Rey, who works full-time at Publix, which is a non-negotiable as she saves money for the future. The hours are long, and the pay is good but it’s not enough. “I have to keep working full-time to get maternity leave by November, when I am due.”
After the initial shock and eventual decision, Christina applied for resources like The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides federal grants to states for food, health care referrals, and nutrition education and Medicaid, which provides healthcare for low-income workers. It is resources like these that have helped many low-income families and gave Christina and her partner a wave of reassurance and hope for their future. It was a moment of peace before a pandemic.
Christina found out she was pregnant right as the virus hit China, a time where people were unsure how severe the effects of this blow would be. She watched as things were shut down one by one, and what little bit of reassurance that remained was taken by the words “essential worker”, which is what both Christina and her partner are. Publix offers benefits, but it also requires a morning-sickness-ridden pregnant woman to stand on her feet all day and be exposed to any and all germs that pass her by, making work both frightening and relieving. “Continuing to work was a hard decision, and my family says that I shouldn’t be working, to protect myself and the baby,” says Christina. While she needs the money, she is in a compromising position if she gets sick. Ideally, she would be able to work remotely and receive her benefits in self-isolation.
On the plus side of essential businesses, Christina is still able to attend regular doctors’ appointments that are covered by her Medicaid. The downside to this is, she must attend them alone, leaving out her partner and her family. This has alienated her partner from the experience. “The only OBGYN that takes my insurance is refusing to let anyone in the room with me when I go for appointments. Not even the baby’s father. He is going to miss my ultrasounds and I am
going to have to do this alone,” says Christina. This situation has opened the can of worms on what else she’ll have to go without in the coming months. She says, “My partner isn’t allowed to go to my appointments with me and there’s no telling when we could have a baby shower.”
Christina is living through history in one of the most challenging ways she can, and there’s no telling if things will get easier soon, let alone when the baby is born. One thing that is certain is the love that comes from the promise of new life and the diligence that Christina and her partner have when it comes to paving the way for their future.
For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected]