Asheville resident Ruth Pike-Elliot is expecting her first baby, a boy, June 4. Like other pregnant women, she’s considered at greater risk of getting sick from respiratory viruses and has continued to quarantine at home, which has led to “a complete roller coaster” of emotions.
“On the one hand, [quarantine has been] really nice. On the other hand, it’s really awful,” Pike-Elliot says. “I’ve really missed people celebrating that I’m pregnant, bringing by little gifts and feeling part of that community of other pregnant people and postpartum people.”
The mom-to-be has been able to connect with her doctors through telehealth, and she and her wife, Bren, have enjoyed virtual baby showers with friends and family, though the typical games and traditions didn’t always translate. The isolation has also allowed the couple to focus on self-care and deepening the bonds between their baby and each other.
“There are fewer distractions. I have felt very strong inner connections to the baby and to Bren,” she says. “It’s been nice to kind of go deep and inward.”
As a physical therapist, Pike-Elliot knows the power of touch and says that belly rubs from friends and family are one of the things she has missed most about being pregnant during the pandemic.
“It feels surreal to have another human growing inside your body. And yes, people can see the bump, but they don’t realize he’s alive,” she explains. “When someone can put their hands on you and say, ‘I feel him,’ I think it just really brings it to life. It’s the connection between that person and the reality of this new human.”
This article is part of COVID Conversations, a series of short features based on interviews with members of our community during the coronavirus pandemic in Western North Carolina. If you or someone you know has a unique story you think should be featured in a future issue of Xpress, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.