Giving Birth During a Pandemic: A Local Mom Shares Her Unique Story

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Let’s cut right to it — the world is in a unique circumstance. We’re required to wear face coverings while out in public, the days of sitting shoulder to shoulder at a crowded bar are gone due to social distancing orders, and all in all the way we once interacted with the outside world is no longer the same. But, as the world would have it, life goes on — no matter what.

One such aspect of life that continues, regardless of a global pandemic, is pregnancy. New moms across the world are adapting to the new normal of being an expecting parent and having to be extra careful because of COVID-19. Those regular, physically interactive visits to their OB/GYNs are far and few between, and the actual activity of giving birth has become a rather, unique experience due to social distancing guidelines, to say the least. Shannon Marone is one Hudson County resident + new mom who had to adapt to the unique circumstances. This is her story:

shannon marone birth pandemic covid 19

About Shannon

Shannon, along with her husband Brian, is currently a Hoboken resident who has recently given birth this past April {you know, during the arguable height of coronavirus concerns}. This is her first child and well, the experience of being pregnant was essentially a breeze for this lucky mom-to-be.

“Although this was my first pregnancy, I know that I had an easy go of it – no morning sickness, no aches and pains, not even any food cravings,” she told Hoboken Girl.

But this cavalier attitude wasn’t going to last long. Enter — COVID-19.

See More: ‘I Gave Birth to My Son While My Husband Watched on Zoom:’ A Local Mom Shares Her Birth Story

“I joked with people that I was nervous that I was either going to have a difficult delivery or a difficult baby, since my pregnancy was such a breeze,” Shannon said. “And sure enough, about a month before my due date, COVID-19 made its way to New York City and turned my near-perfect pregnancy experience into a nightmare.”

COVID-19 Complications

Prior to the outbreak, Shannon had it all figured out — her birth plan was in place and ready to go.

“The hospital I was set to deliver at was New York=-Presbyterian’s downtown Manhattan location, which was only a five-minute walk from my office and about a 20-minute car ride from my apartment in Hoboken,” she said.

But, as concerns regarding the virus grew, the ideal circumstances she envisioned became blurry.

“During one of my last doctor’s visits in mid-March, I was informed that I would only be able to have two visitors {my husband and one other person} in the room when giving birth due to how the coronavirus had escalated,” she shared. “I was pretty bummed, as my husband and I contemplated who we would ask to be the one other person to be present for our child’s birth. Ultimately we decided not to have anyone else there, as choosing one person was too difficult.”

But, soon after, just like many other expectant mothers, Shannon had to come to the harsh realization that she would likely have give birth alone.

“A few days later, I was scrolling on Facebook and saw someone post in the Hoboken Mommies group asking for references for a hospital in New Jersey, because she had just found out that the hospital she was supposed to deliver at was no longer letting any visitors {including spouses} in the delivery room. ‘How terrible,’ I thought to myself as I scrolled the comments,”  she shared.  “One member of the group asked the mom which hospital had implemented this rule, and sure enough my worst fear – it was my hospital, New York-Presbyterian.”

Cue the panic.

The Reality

pregnancy resources hoboken jersey city covid19

“I was shaking. I couldn’t even believe it at first. I told my husband and he said ‘maybe she’s wrong’ as he scrolled the internet looking for reassurance. But we found a tweet from one of the NYP doctors confirming it a few hours earlier. I immediately burst into tears. This was six days before my due date,” Shannon said.

“I couldn’t decide which was worse – the fact that I would have to deliver alone, or that my husband would have to miss the birth of his first child. The thought of him not getting to meet our daughter at the same moment that I did devasted me.”

Shannon took to the one thing she could do — make a phone call.

“After I semi pulled myself together, I called Hunterdon Medical Center in New Jersey to ask if they are allowing spouses,”  she explained. “’Yes,’ they said. ‘At this time we are allowing one support person.’ I explained my situation and that I was looking to switch hospitals as soon as possible. ‘Oh, and I’m 39 weeks pregnant.’ Unfortunately, they do not take on new patients after 29 weeks. Great, back to square one.”

But as luck and lots of phone calls and research would have it, Shannon was able to successfully achieve a birth-related Hail Mary. She found a new doctor {which at 39 weeks, is a big deal} out in Long Island who agreed to deliver her and allow her husband to be in the delivery room when it happened.

“I was fortunate enough to have been able to switch hospitals five days before my due date, but I know so many people were not so lucky,” she said.

“During my appointment with Dr. Klein, he informed me that although my husband would be able to be in the delivery room with me, he would have to leave two hours after I give birth, and I would then be transported to an offsite facility across the street from the hospital for my recovery. I was bummed that I would have to spend the night alone with the baby away from my husband, but was just so relieved that he was going to be there for me during my delivery and our first moments with our daughter.”

Read More: A Local Doctor Weighs Answers FAQs on Pregnancy + COVID-19

Giving Birth

Fast forward a few days and Shannon is induced into labor and 26 hours later on April 2nd, she and her husband welcomed their new baby girl Vivienne Rose into the world.

Of course, although her husband was able to physically be there during her delivery, he had to leave a few hours later, leaving Shannon and her new baby girl alone during a very vulnerable time for any new parent {couple that with COVID-19 concerns and that’s a wicked recipe}.

“We were transported via ambulance across the street to recovery. The building had been used for Ambulatory surgery but was since converted into the maternity ward for recovering mothers, as the recovery rooms in the hospital were being used to treat COVID patients,” she told Hoboken Girl.

“The recovery center was set up like a war tent – it was a room full of beds, separated only by a curtain. Each ‘room’ was only wide enough for my bed and the baby’s crib, and I had to move the crib every time I needed to get to the back of the room to get into my suitcase. I immediately wondered how I was supposed to get any rest, as there were babies crying all day and all night, and with only a shower curtain separating us, you can imagine how loud that would be.”

Although alone in a strange, new environment, Shannon knew that it was only for 24 hours, and by the time it was over, she and her new family would be reunited.

“My husband texted and expressed how much he missed us. But I couldn’t think about how lonely he must be feeling, it would only make me feel worse. ‘Only 24 hours,’ I kept reminding myself. When he picked me up the next morning, it was the best feeling in the world – I was taking my baby home and this experience was finally over.”

The Future

shannon marone

Now that the dust has settled and Shannon + her family are back at home, like many other new moms, Shannon has the idea of expanding her family on the brain.

Given the harrowing experience she went through,  however, that dream might have to be put on hold.

“I always wanted to have more than one child. I have three siblings and love being from a big family. But after all of that, I wasn’t sure if I could bring myself to go through this again,” she said. “I hope the next time I give birth it won’t be during a pandemic, however, I don’t have the luxury of looking back on giving birth to my first child with happy, whimsical memories. Although this experience was less than ideal, I have to keep reminding myself that we came out of this with a healthy baby girl, and all of the hurdles that we went through to get her here was for our safety.”

Have a unique, pandemic-related pregnancy or labor experience you want to share? Email us at hello@hobokengirl.com!

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Written by:

Arielle is a born-and-bred Jersey girl and like a true NJ native, half her diet consists of bagels and the other half pizza. As a graduate of both American University and City, University of London, she’s been a passionate writer ever since she wrote her first “book” in the first grade. When she’s not furiously typing away at her keyboard, she spends her time ticking places off of her “to travel to” list, trying any and all new foods, and trying to stop herself from spending too much money at Zara.