The Atlantic Daily: First Came the Pandemic. Then Came New Parenthood.

Last summer, as the pandemic raged on, my colleague Sophie Gilbert became a parent. It was the hardest thing she’s ever done.

“Other than my husband, not a single person I love has really seen me being a mother,” she writes in an extraordinary essay. “This new person I’ve become since I gave birth is a person virtually no one knows.”

With the birth of her twins, Sophie joined the millions of parents who, a year into this pandemic, are raising kids at a time when access to support, such as child care or just a loved one who can lend an extra hand, remains frustratingly limited.

  • New parents face extreme isolation. “Every person who’s given birth during the past year, I’d guess, has experienced a version of the same thing—a sense of isolation so acute that it’s hard to process,” Sophie writes.

  • Around the world, women are angry. The pandemic, as feared, has been a setback for feminism, Helen Lewis reports: “The raw statistics are one thing, but what strikes you when talking with parents is their sheer exhaustion, often laced with a sense of injustice.”

A nurse administers a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in California
(PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP / GETTY)

One question, answered: How should I act if I’m vaccinated, but other people in my household aren’t?

Our staff writer Katherine J. Wu, who covers vaccines and the rollout, shares her approach:

It’s a tough question—one I’m currently navigating myself. My husband, a neurologist, received his second dose of Moderna’s vaccine in late January; I’m not expecting to be called into the vaccine queue for quite some time yet. The new CDC guidelines say my husband can mingle with a few of his vaccinated co-workers indoors, without masks. He’ll probably also board a plane—masked and distanced—to visit his parents, who are vaccinated themselves, in Michigan late this spring. (He hasn’t seen them since the summer of 2019.) I’m not planning on following suit until I, too, am at least two weeks post–full vaccination. While we’re in this state of limbo, my husband is also staying mindful of my more vulnerable position. He will shower after hanging out with his vaccinated friends; he will be making pretty much all of our grocery runs, especially after Connecticut, where we live, eases pandemic restrictions on March 19.

There are no hard-and-fast rules for us, though, and our behaviors won’t necessarily mirror those of other mixed households. My husband is now very likely protected against getting seriously sick from the coronavirus. But he is still in the minority, and that means our approach to pandemic life mostly stays the same: We’re evaluating how risky each behavior is to us and those around us, and taking it one day at a time.

For more vaccine coverage, read James Hamblin on the false dilemma of post-vaccination risk.

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved isolation activity:

Start an indoor garden. “Plant some kitchen scraps (lemon seeds, lentils, celery stalks, avocado pits) and watch new life happen in days, no extra soil or pots required,” our senior editor Shan Wang writes.

What to read if … you’d like to read about something—anything—other than the coronavirus:

This black hole probably shouldn’t exist.