I believe it's fair to say that the coronavirus hardly left anyone untouched. Whether it impacted you directly because you suffered from the disease or Long Covid, or even lost someone to the deadly virus; whether you've lost your job, your company closed, or you simply couldn't go to work for a few months, like my dad, for example. The impacts of the pandemic were global and, in many instances, harsh. Isolation, financial insecurity, health issues, resulting mental issues, and so on and so forth...it was surely not an easy time for most of us.
And yet...I also want to look at the positive impacts the pandemic had on my life. This is a personal account and I don't mean to diminish the suffering others have experienced. It just occurred to me and my husband that, ultimately, we both benefitted more from the pandemic than we suffered.
I am quite a restless person. It's difficult for me for things to stand still, my mind to quieten and to stay at home. Before I got pregnant and the pandemic hit, I used to be in a constant flutter, nervous to be still for too long, not wanting to deal with my issues, joy-threatening thoughts and future prospects. After finding out I was pregnant, a part of me worried about not being able to find calm and quieten my mind for the pregnancy and once the baby was here. I didn't want to be a mum who dragged her child everywhere because she couldn't be alone with her thoughts.
In the course of my pregnancy, I did lots of things to quieten my mind - meditation, visualisation, breathing techniques, the works. However, what ultimately helped me was the enforced lockdown in March 2020 when the whole world, it seemed, came to a standstill. There were no aeroplanes, no cars, the village to which we'd just moved had become quiet - the only soundtrack composed by twittering birds, some ambling villagers and the odd tractor in the distance. Apart from the obvious benefits for the environment, this new setting was also incredibly healing for my own mind. There was no possibility of distraction - no bars, cafes, cinemas, shops, not even family gatherings. Everything was still.
It was during this time that I first managed to quieten my mind. That the hectic little people in my head stopped dancing for once and I embraced being home. It is something I have returned to struggle with, but now that I know what it feels like, it is a place to return, not to find.
Another factor in which the pandemic played into my hands was my choice of therapist. Shortly before I found out I was pregnant, I chose to see a psychotherapist. I was in a very low point in my life and didn't know how to be happy anymore. However, I started therapy in Vienna, and a few weeks after we decided to move to Tirol, in the west of Austria. Had it not been for the pandemic, I would have had to choose a different therapist, as therapists are usually not allowed to do online sessions. This may sound trivial, but for me the change of therapist would have meant starting from step one again. The almost two years of therapy have helped me incredibly to overcome some of my issues - or at least to name them so I can work on them. I am grateful that I could end the journey with the same therapist I started it with.
When Lily was born, life was almost back to normal. It was August, everything was open - and yet, there were strict Covid procedures at the hospitals. Regardless the severity of the situation, I have always criticised hospitals not letting husbands join the birth of their baby. I think it's cruel for both parents. As a birthing mother, you need support - from your husband or any other person you choose to take with you. As a father, you have the right to be present when your baby is born - pandemic yes or no.
Thankfully, Jakob was allowed to attend the birth and could stay far longer than the allocated visiting hours; however, he was the only one allowed to visit. While I can understand that it was hard for my family to not see Lily in the first days, I cannot deny that it was a precious time, just the three of us in the hospital. Giving birth is quite overwhelming for most mothers, I assume (it certainly was for me), and the calm after the storm is a far more precious concept than I feel most consider.
Lily's first six months were more or less spent in lockdown. I couldn't drag her to any classes or many outings, for which I am grateful. I know it sounds selfish to be thankful for a pandemic imposing on me the calm to stay at home with my little baby, but that's just how it was for me. My restless self, once more, could find the calm I probably wouldn't have mustered so well in normal times. Jakob, again, was working lots from home during Lily's first six months, which was great for the bond between them. Also, I had much more help with cooking, laundry and the general workings of the household.
Finally, now that everything opens up again. I am grateful that I can appreciate the crowds and happenings much more. I feel I am in a better place to show Lily the wonders of the world because, due to the lockdowns, they are somewhat marvellous to me too again.
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