She’s worried about shortages in her neighborhood in Brooklyn, for one thing. As people rush to batten down the hatches and stock up their homes, grocery stores are already looking barren; in the coming months, global supply-chain issues could exacerbate the problem. So Batscha, and no doubt many other soon-to-be parents, are stocking their homes with things they wouldn’t ordinarily.
“There’s a shortage, for example, with toilet paper and paper towels—so I don’t know if there’s going to be a shortage on [maxi] pads,” Batscha said. Since bodies that have just given birth tend to bleed heavily for a few weeks afterward, she’s already placed orders online for a bunch of postpartum and super-absorbency maxi pads. Before the threat of a pandemic, she said, “I took for granted that I could just order this stuff through Amazon Prime and it would arrive the next day.”
Read: The demystification of the postpartum female body
She’s also mentally fast-forwarding to the coming months of infant care—and she’s preparing for a worst-case scenario there, too. Batscha, who breastfed her first son for more than a year after he was born, has been closely monitoring authorities’ evolving advice for breastfeeding parents. At this point, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website informs readers that in the few studies that have been conducted, COVID-19 “has not been detected in breast milk; however we do not know whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk.” Because there’s uncertainty, Batscha is planning to stock her home with baby formula, in case she gets sick. She hopes she’ll never have to use it. “Ideally, nobody has [COVID-19] in this house, and this isn’t a concern. But if something happens and we need to act very quickly,” she said, “I just want to feel as if his nutrition needs are also met if I can’t meet them.”
Batscha has also seen all the plans she had squared away months ago for labor and delivery get thrown into jeopardy. Her hospital is an hour away, in Upper Manhattan, and because Americans have been advised to practice aggressive social distancing, she’s not sure who will be able to look after her son when she goes into labor. The original plan was for both the Batschas’ nanny and their best friends to have a key to their home and be on call. “But what if my nanny or my best friends get [the virus]? Who, then, comes to watch our son? Does my husband stay at home and I go to the hospital by myself?”
For now, she’s accepted that the plan could shift any day. “Every couple days, we’ll have to just be like, ‘Okay, these people are all still healthy. This is plan A, this is plan B,’” she said.
Read: Dear Therapist’s guide to staying sane during a pandemic
For now, Batscha is doing her best to adapt her month-nine relaxation plans to comply with the new guidance on staying safe—for her own health, for that of her new baby, and for that of her parents, who are planning to drive up from North Carolina after the baby is born (provided everyone stays healthy). She told me she feels a little shortchanged that she hasn’t been able to spend her last month of pregnancy relaxing and seeing friends. But on the day before we spoke, she had managed to snag a moment for herself: She walked to the park during the day with her dog, where she sat on a bench, plugged her headphones into her phone, and watched Netflix shows while she ate lunch. “I felt the sun beating down on me and it just felt refreshing—to, you know, be outside, have that fresh air, and find a little bit of mental clarity.”