A Qatar Foundation teacher talks about being pregnant during COVID-19 pandemic
We were just about to turn off the television and go to bed when suddenly a breaking news segment showed paramedics in personal protective equipment helping people into an ambulance. People with COVID-19.
I placed my hands on my belly, wondering: What happens if I contract the virus? Would I transmit it to my unborn child?
I placed my hands on my belly, as if to reassure my baby. Anxious thoughts began to run through my mind. What happens if I contract the virus? Would I transmit it to my unborn child?
I spent that night browsing social media pages, trying to find out how the virus might affect pregnant women. This was the start of the pandemic in Qatar, and at the time it felt like my family and I were heading into the unknown.
Just a few short weeks before this life had been so normal. My husband and I had been planning for the birth of our third child – selecting a name, booking a flight for my mother-in-law – while looking after my other children, taking them to the park, the mall, and engaging in after-school activities.
In March, the day before the schools transitioned to digital learning, my final day at work at Awsaj Academy, part of Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education, was like a beehive of activity as we made final preparations to shift online
My colleagues organized a baby shower for me to celebrate the oncoming arrival of my child, knowing we might not see each other again for many months
On this day, my colleagues also organized a special baby shower for me. Together we celebrated the oncoming arrival of my child, knowing we might not see each other again for many months. After the goodbyes, I hid my face with books so that no one would see my tears. With so much uncertainty, I felt like I was leaving part of my heart at the academy.
With the start of this new phase in our lives – and much like the rest of the nation – the home became the only space to engage with the world. After long days of teaching online, cooking, cleaning, helping my own children with their schoolwork, I would sit and wonder about the world I would be bringing my baby in to.
The doctor's clinic became the only place I could visit frequently. And during every trip, I would make sure not to sit in the waiting room, avoiding the sofas, while wearing a mask and gloves.
It was the first time I’d seen the hospital empty – no cars in the parking lot, no patients, and no emergency traffic
On May 19, my doctor told me that I might deliver my baby within a few hours. I immediately returned home, picked up the pre-packed baby bag, and I went with my husband to the hospital. It was the first time I’d seen the hospital empty – no cars in the parking lot, no patients, and no emergency traffic.
I gave birth to a little girl we named Emma. I looked at her face and thought how babies – even those belonging to the COVID-19 generation – have such beauty and innocence, and are surely a sign that the coming days will be better.
When I left the hospital, my daughter and I were accompanied by just my husband and one friend. In the past, nurses, hospital staff, and visitors would approach me to congratulate me on our new addition. But this time, it was very quiet.
Our house was also quiet, except from the screams of joy of my two daughters upon seeing their sister. No visitors offering their congratulations or blessings. No celebrations.
At night, we would chat virtually with family members, who would hide their tears, expressing their desire to embrace Emma. It was the first time that my family had missed a birth. And it was very difficult.
Today, my daughter is three months old. Schools are preparing to welcome students back while maintaining safety standards to prevent the spread of the virus, and we are on the path to recovering part of the life we lost. My child grows quickly, and with her our hopes to meet with loved ones again soon.
I know that one day – hopefully soon – we will be able to celebrate the birth of Emma, and with that, a healthy, safe world
I know that one day – hopefully soon – we will be able to celebrate the birth of Emma, and with that, a healthy, safe world.