The First-Time Mom Isolated with Her Newborn: ‘We’re So Cut Off from Everybody’
PEOPLE's Voices from the Coronavirus Crisis will share firsthand accounts of the people facing unique challenges during a global pandemic
Kristin Diversi, 33, is a freelance writer and content consultant based in Montclair, New Jersey with her husband Blair and 11-week-old newborn son Orion. In November, Kristin told PEOPLE of her and her husband’s grueling and costly five-year journey to have a baby. When trying naturally, going through six intrauterine insemination treatments and in vitro fertilization worked to no avail, the couple opted for embryo adoption. Happily, Orion arrived in January, but now Kristin must balance life as a new mother without the full support of her friends and family due to the stringent measures of social distancing amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Orion was born three weeks early — he’s doing great, but just because of everything going on lately, we’ve kind of been hunkered down in place. At first, I wasn’t concerned at all. Even up until a few weeks ago, we took Orion to the doctor for his two-month vaccinations. At that point, everything was pretty much fine.
With a newborn, we already weren’t going out a lot. But now, we’re missing that support. Before, my mom was coming a few days a week so that I could take a nap. I don’t think we support new moms enough as it is. Before you have kids it’s like, “Oh sure, whatever.” Then you have a kid and you’re like, “Oh my God, this is actually much more difficult than I ever thought.” And no one tells you that somewhere in the first few weeks of your kid’s life, you’re going to be so sleep deprived that you don’t know what day it is anymore.
All you want to do is take care of this tiny little human who has no way to communicate their needs other than to cry. And there’s no book you can read that really prepares you for the feeling. That support in the first few weeks of a baby’s life is so vital — to have women come around you and support you and help, even just help clean up the house because you need to be focused on the baby.
I really feel for mothers who are going to be delivering soon – or as long as this lasts. Getting the support is going to be so much harder; we just need to keep online communities as strong as we can because there is no shame in reaching out and saying, “This is hard and I need help.” Especially now that we’re so cut off from everyone else.
My in-laws were supposed to come over from Australia at the end of April to meet Orion, and the trip was obviously canceled. At this point, we don’t know when [they’ll be able to come]. Right now, we’re looking at Thanksgiving, which means he’ll be almost a year old before he meets his grandparents.
Orion doesn’t know the difference, obviously. He’s not old enough to socialize, but for us to build relationships with other new parents — those networks are so important to build as a new mom.
What we’re really missing out on right now is our connections. It’s all through social media and online communities, which can be wonderful, but can also be laced with so much misinformation and so much panic.
One thing that has been really great? If a friend or another new mom in our community is going to the store, we will text each other, “Is there anything I can grab you?” Just to kind of help limit each other’s exposure. It’s so nice to see how much people are willing to come together. It reminds me of after 9/11. In this area, everyone kind of banded together and did what they had to help each other. And it feels similar now.
When you need to go for a walk outside, people are smiling and saying hello from six feet apart. But it feels like we’re forced into this kind of community. Obviously, it’s a tragic situation, but if anything good is to come out of it, it’s that you do see that people can be so generous of heart, of spirit, of resources.
People want to help you. Everyone wants to help a new mother and a new baby. There’s absolutely no shame in reaching out for support, even if it’s just to say, “This is really hard.” I wanted to be a parent so badly, and it’s so amazing. It’s more wonderful than I ever could have anticipated, having a baby and being a parent. And it’s also a lot more difficult, a lot harder.
Every mom is different. I think at all times, but especially now, moms shouldn’t hesitate to reach out and say what they need. I think there’s this expectation that we’re supposed to be natural mothers from the very beginning and some people are, and that’s wonderful. We badly wanted a child and we’re so excited he’s here. And that doesn’t mean that every part of it is easy, every part of it comes naturally. So definitely, it’s so important for new moms and new parents in general to remember that your community is here for you.
And with this going on, it’s a lot scarier. So now, more than ever, we need to reach out to other people.
- As told to Conchita Margaret Widjojo
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