My pandemic pregnancy: ‘If we make it through this, we’re really meant to be’

South Florida woman says being pregnant during this strange time made her fall in love all over again

Jennifer Cardenas and her family (Photo provided by/used with permission from Jennifer Cardenas)

Author’s note: This is not MY personal story, per se, (despite the “my pandemic pregnancy” headline), but a story told by our readers, week by week. Today’s is shared by Jennifer.

You might have heard that being pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or delivering right about now is strange, in this age of coronavirus. But how? In what ways? We’re going to show you. To contribute your own experience, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this article and tap the link.

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When Jennifer Cardenas found out she was pregnant, she envisioned a baby shower surrounded by her friends and family, carefree spring days filled with walks in the park, and her delivery, with her husband and her mother by her side.

But that wasn’t quite what the Davie, Florida woman got.

When the pandemic really started shutting down businesses, affecting everyday life and rocking the country, she was five months along.

“I couldn’t help but feel nervous for my baby and me,” Cardenas said. “My husband would wait for me in the car anxiously when I would go to my ultrasound appointments. I admit, I (wished) he could (have been) in the appointments with me, holding my hand.”

It was only natural to feel nervous. So much was unknown. So much remains unknown.

Cardenas did get to enjoy a gender-reveal party in February, right before the chaos set in.

At first, Cardenas said, she wasn’t even that into the idea of a gender-reveal event. But her best friend insisted, saying, “absolutely we have to do a gender reveal!”

The excitement was contagious. The party was held, and Cardenas said was glad she did it.

There would be no baby shower in the months that followed, but Cardenas maintained such a positive attitude about the situation. After all, this was her first baby. She was just glad to be pregnant.

“And I got so much support from my friends, other moms, other first-time moms (and) people checking in to make sure I was OK,” Cardenas said. “It was an overwhelming amount of support that I didn’t expect.”

Some unsettling moments, too

Don’t get her wrong: Cardenas endured some hard days leading up to the delivery of the couple’s daughter, Mia, who was born July 1.

Baby Mia (Photo provided by/used with permission from Jennifer Cardenas)

“Yeah, I went stir crazy a few times, considering I couldn’t leave the house,” Cardenas said with a laugh. “Even to go to the grocery store -- I’d beg my husband to go. And he’d say no.”

It was a mutual decision, of course, and not just up to Cardenas’ husband. But the couple agreed: Despite the temptation to get out of the house for a few hours, it just wasn’t safe, considering the risks, the germs, the spread, and all the unknowns for pregnant women as COVID-19 raged on.

Cardenas went through another day that she remembers as particularly tough.

She cried over uncertainty involving the couple’s health insurance and some financial concerns, and it was just hard not knowing what the future would hold.

“You’re just not planning for a virus to happen when you’re pregnant,” Cardenas said. “You’re planning on a baby shower, your delivery, maybe a gender reveal, all this different stuff. But not a virus.”

All the positives

Still, Cardenas had something in her voice that was so uplifting; so grateful and pure.

She and her husband, who were over the moon when they found out in November of last year about the pregnancy, actually work together -- as in, for the same employer, Hard Rock Casino, but on different shifts.

Usually, when Cardenas’ husband is getting out of work, she’s going in, or vice versa. They were accustomed to having two days off together, but not much free time as a couple beyond that.

And then they were furloughed once the pandemic set in. Cardenas tried to live in the moment and enjoy the time for what it was, whenever possible.

“Even though we were both stressed over money and the insurance, it was so nice to spend that quality time with him,” Cardenas said. “Without being able to go absolutely anywhere, we got a chance to really bond and fall in love again. Every day, he made me laugh and made me forget about how scared I was, of not only becoming a mom, but bringing a baby into the world in the middle of a full-blown pandemic.”

At some point, she said, she thought to herself, “If we make it through this, we’re really meant to be.”

They fell back on life’s simple pleasures.

Cardenas’ husband loves to walk, so they’d get up early in the mornings to do that.

They’d watch Netflix together.

They even have a small pool that they’d never used much before. But in the summer’s heat, they’d be in the pool nearly every day.

“Being around him 24 hours a day made me realize how much I really love him,” Cardenas said.

A new reality

These days, the couple continues to settle in to their new routine, enjoying their little family. They still spend a lot of time at home, but it comes with the territory, considering what’s still going on all around us.

“Initially, I thought with time, (we’d) ease up,” Cardenas said. “But now with the baby, we’re even more careful. Now even when I get groceries, I pre-order and have them loaded into the car. We’re extra, extra careful now that we have the baby.”

They haven’t gone to a restaurant in months -- since the virus arrived in the U.S., Cardenas estimated.

Cardenas returned to work the first week of June, but has since gone out on maternity leave. Her husband is back to work. The couple has been married about a year and a half, but together for five years.

Cardenas sounds like she’s soaking up every precious moment with her little girl.

Paying it forward

And that friend who insisted she have a gender-reveal party? As it turned out, she got pregnant, too. Cardenas was about three months ahead of her, but said it was nice to go through the experience with a friend, especially during this surreal time.

Cardenas said she enjoyed returning the favor for her friend, and supporting her like all the helpful people who did the same in her life these past few months.

“It was so nice to be there for someone in return for all the people who were here for me,” Cardenas said. “I really enjoyed that.”

Were you, or are you, pregnant during the pandemic? (Or TTC?) If you're open to sharing your story -- as a guest contributor or just in speaking with a journalist -- click or tap here to see what we're looking for and to fill out our form. Thank you for considering!

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