My pandemic pregnancy: ‘I wanted to celebrate my rainbow’

Kayla and her son (Photo provided by Kayla Molina)

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 Kayla Molina.

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 tell you. To contribute your own experience, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this article and tap the link.

When Kayla Molina found out she was pregnant, like many mothers and moms-to-be, she felt filled with excitement, hope and optimism.

After suffering a miscarriage in July 2019, she and her husband celebrated the fact that their rainbow baby was now on the way.

“(But) I wanted to celebrate my rainbow with my friends and family," Molina said.

The coronavirus pandemic made that really hard.

To rewind a bit, Molina was about 9 weeks along in her previous pregnancy when she started bleeding “out of nowhere” and later learned she had indeed lost the baby.

“Everyone kept saying we’d get pregnant again soon, and we conceived William (probably a month or two) later,” Molina said.

William, by the way, just recently hit the 4-month mark. He’s a happy and healthy baby. William was born May 6.

His parents are so happy to have him. But beyond that, it’s been a busy time for the San Antonio family.

William (Photo provided by Kayla Molina)

A student and a mother

Molina, 21, is a first-time mom and a full-time student, studying pre-nursing at Palo Alto College. She’s on track to graduate this semester, and hopes to get accepted into a nursing program so she can continue her education.

Molina spends an incredible amount of time on her schoolwork. She’s a dedicated student, wife and mother. So dedicated, in fact, that she actually completed one of her final college exams at the hospital in the days after her emergency C-section for William.

Molina’s coursework had just switched over to remote learning, so she got out her school things at the hospital and finished up what she could manage. She gave birth to William about a week before the semester ended.

Molina was also laid off from her job at a dessert restaurant when she was six or seven months along in her pregnancy. At first, it was because the eatery was embarking on a remodel, which ended up taking longer than expected. Then coronavirus arrived in the United States, so the restaurant went on hiatus for longer than intended.

These days, school remains online for Molina, although she said she does have to go in physically about three times this semester.

“It’s still scary because I don’t know who my classmates are,” she said. “I could bring (coronavirus) home to my son.”

The pregnancy itself

Being pregnant during a global pandemic? Well, it wasn’t ideal.

Following the miscarriage and during the start of the COVID-19 situation, Molina was relieved to learn that her husband would be permitted to accompany her to most appointments, but she was told there would be temperature checks and a face mask requirement, along with some other precautions.

“I mean, no one could have predicted this,” Molina said.

In her original birth plan, Molina indicated that she wanted to have her husband and her twin sister in the room for William’s delivery.

But at some point, the nurses at her obstetrician’s office informed her she’d only be allowed one birth partner.

“When I told my sister, we both burst out crying,” Molina said. “That’s just not what we had planned.”

Then, about a month before William’s arrival, she found out she had pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure. In fact, she missed her own drive-by baby shower due to the blood pressure situation.

First, her shower was supposed to be held April 5 at a local park. But Molina received a call saying the event was no longer a guarantee, because this was right around the time stay-at-home orders went into effect.

She and her loved ones had all the decorations and food ready to go. But they opted for a refund instead, because it seemed like that was the only option at the time.

It was sad -- to go from a pregnancy loss to feeling like no one could celebrate this new baby.

But Molina found some silver linings. She said the couple registered for baby shower presents on Amazon, and having gifts slowly trickle in almost felt like Christmas every day, getting to open or unwrap something new.

Kayla and her husband (Photo provided by Kayla Molina)

It was Molina’s sister who planned the drive-by baby shower.

She has no idea Molina would have to be admitted to the hospital that same day; meaning Molina wasn’t even able to attend the shower in person. She did pull up the event on cellphone video, but it wasn’t the same.

Still, she had a bigger issue at hand: The health of little William.

“Yeah, it was because of my blood pressure,” Molina said. “It was the weekend before I had my son. It was scary because they gave me a shot to develop (William’s) lungs.”

If the baby had come that day, he would have been born at 35 weeks, so doctors wanted to help give him a boost, so to speak, just in case.

“It’s really scary when they talk about induction, and the nurse tells you what’s going to happen, and then they swab you for COVID -- as if that’s not scary enough,” Molina said.

Luckily, William managed to stay in utero just a little longer.

The birth

On May 5, Molina went to the hospital. Her OB had set a threshold: If your blood pressure spikes higher than a certain number, come in.

Molina asked her brother to drop her off that night -- she thought she’d receive some medicine and call him back when she was all set.

It just so happened that it was Molina’s doctor on call, so he was especially familiar with her circumstances.

The doctor asked Molina how she was doing, and she told him: She had a raging headache and she felt miserable.

“So he said, ‘I’m going to C-section you this morning,’” Molina recalled.

She was surprised -- and a little unprepared.

But her blood pressure was dropping low and then spiking and repeating that pattern. Molina’s husband was working overnights back then, so a nurse tried to stall as much as she could during surgery prep to buy him some time to arrive at the hospital.

“I only had a few minutes to call my family and try to get ahold of my husband,” Molina said.

And it kind of felt like choosing sides again -- confirming that it would be her husband in the room instead of her twin sister, Molina said.

But the decision had been made.

In the end, Molina’s husband arrived about 10 minutes before nurses took Molina into the operating room.

That was a relief.

These days

Now, the couple is happy to be settled into a bit of a routine with their son. They’ve been married since December 2018, and would like to expand their family eventually, but Molina said they’d like to wait until the pandemic has cleared.

“That way, hopefully, we will get to experience a typical baby shower (and) maternity pictures," she said. “The only thing we got to do was a gender reveal back in November. ... I felt so cheated out (of) my pregnancy and all the experiences that came with it.”

It’s OK, and new motherhood has been really nice.

Still, “those are days I’ll never get back,” Molina added.

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!