I found out I was pregnant with our third child on August 28, 2020. Which means– you guessed it–this baby was conceived in the era of COVID-19 and quarantine. When we announced our pregnancy, we were bombarded with the same congratulations and excitement we received with the first two but we also received many a smirk or flat out laughter with one of these sentiments attached:
“Oh, you’re having a COVID baby!”
“You going to name it Corona if it’s a girl?”
“HAHA, a quarantine baby!”
“You know there are gonna be lots of pregnancy announcements comin’ out of this year . . . if you know what I mean.”
And I jovially chuckled along, nodding as though confirming, “Yes, yes, this baby was conceived because we were so bored while both working from home and simultaneously keeping our two small children occupied, all we did was have sex all day long for months on end. That’s of course how this baby was conceived.”
I know, I know. Our friends and family joking along with us have nothing but good intentions, and my feelings are not that fragile. Believe me, I chuckled in the same manner when finding out about our happy surprise. But the further I’ve progressed into this pregnancy, the more I’ve truly thought about what we are saying about these babies who are starting to be born into the world, and the jokes have become less and less funny.
Because these babies—the one currently kicking my insides and giving me the beginnings of heartburn and the one your friend just announced on Facebook?
They don’t deserve to be nicknamed after a disease that’s killing people at an unprecedented rate, after the pandemic that has shut down businesses and caused mental health around the globe to plummet. They don’t deserve to be joked about like they were all accidents that just happened because we were forced to be home more.
They don’t deserve it, and it’s just not true.
This article by USA Today states that the rates of pregnancies during 2020 has actually gone DOWN, and that there are estimated to be around 300,000 FEWER babies born in 2021 than usual. They refer to it as a “baby-bust” as opposed to the “baby-boom” commonly joked about.
There are many hypotheses about why this is the reality–financial stress on families, relationship strain from being home so much, families wanting to postpone bringing another life into the current state of the world, etc. All of these are valid reasons for people to choose not to get pregnant. But it just goes to show that those of us who did get pregnant, whether it be a pregnancy answering years of prayer, a stressful addition, or a happy surprise . . . these pregnancies and these babies?
These babies were conceived despite COVID-19 and quarantine—not because of it.
So, as a whole. As a society. Can we please stop calling these precious lives that have been conceived during this time “COVID Babies”?
These babies deserve more from us. These babies are special. They represent everything COVID-19 is not.
In a time of darkness and hopelessness, these babies represent hope and the future. In a time of isolation and loneliness, these babies are the result of connection and intimacy. In a time of division and side-picking, these babies can be bridge builders. In a time of pain, sickness and death, these babies will be living, breathing proof that Life with a capital “L” did not end during 2020. In fact, life could be, and was, created. These babies are a slap in the face of this virus—of the overall darkness that was the year 2020.
These babies should be celebrated.
As the weary world rejoices at the close of 2020 and celebrates the beginning of a new year that brings the hope of vaccines and hopefully a way forward, a generation of hope bringers is starting to literally be born.
Hope bringers and light shiners.
The babies conceived despite a pandemic.
Starting to be born right at the beginning of the new year.
So, for the remainder of my, probably last, pregnancy, I will defend my little light shiner. I will correct people when they say he is a COVID or quarantine baby.
Correct them and say he, along with all the other babies of his time, is a hope bringer.
A hope bringer about to be born into a world so desperately in need of hope.