Update To Our Story: Pregnant And Worried During COVID-19 Pandemic
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Two weeks ago, we introduced you to a couple of friends of mine here in Washington, D.C. - Mikella Hurley, she goes by Mikey, and her husband, Simon Schropp. When we spoke, they were trying to manage their anxiety about having their first baby in the middle of a pandemic. Her scheduled C-section went fine, and Mikey delivered a healthy baby girl named Lulu. But an unexpected turn of events meant that the three of them are now at home but separated.
MIKELLA HURLEY: I am upstairs in our bedroom. The upper floor is my zone for the next - well, yeah.
SIMON SCHROPP: I am in there on the ground floor and the first floor, together with baby Lulu. And I go up occasionally to feed Mikey and to bring her food and to bring down milk.
MARTIN: Mikey is in isolation because her doctors tested her for COVID-19 in the hospital, and it came back positive.
HURLEY: A C-section is a tough surgery, and as I was coming out of it, maybe an hour after, I spiked a pretty high fever, which they didn't initially suspect COVID because I had been totally asymptomatic. They thought, well, you know, out of an abundance of caution, we should probably just test you. And then it took quite some time - well, you know, it was hours. It felt like an eternity, but it was hours before the test came back.
MARTIN: And when you called to tell Simon, were you just matter of fact about it? Were you already working through different scenarios?
HURLEY: Yeah, the latter. I was definitely working through different scenarios. It was devastating. I assumed that necessarily it would mean that he was going to test positive as well, if we could even get a test for him. And what they were sort of saying at that point was, we don't know whether it's going to be safe to release the baby to either of you. And so at that point, I was feeling pretty powerless but trying to work through scenarios of who we could have to take Lulu if she came back negative.
MARTIN: Right. So we should just say, Simon's tests came back negative. The baby's test came back negative. It ended up being, I guess, the best possible scenario in that you are all under the same roof.
HURLEY: Yeah. Yeah. That's been incredibly - we're incredibly grateful that that was the way it worked out.
MARTIN: So Simon, how's it going? You are a solo parent right now.
SCHROPP: Yeah, and learning the ropes way faster than I had anticipated. I don't know what I anticipated. I think in our last conversation, I said I feel woefully unprepared. Turns out, I was woefully unprepared. We had assumed that it's going to be the both of us, and Mikey is breastfeeding. And turns out, it's just me feeding the bottle and taking care of Mikey, who is recovering from major surgery, as best as I can. So we had a - yeah, we had to hit the ground running, Lulu and I, but she's been a total trooper. She's very patient with me, and we're doing well.
MARTIN: What was the first night like? I mean, what was the sleeping situation? What was your anxiety level?
SCHROPP: The sleeping situation, very low; anxiety level, extremely high. But - and then sleeping, it was - you know, I woke up when I didn't hear a noise. I woke up when I heard a noise. So the first night was a little bit rough also because, you know, she spent some time in the NICU, so I had that in the back of my mind taking her home. Again, probably the usual, but it was exacerbated since it was only me and really no one can help us because we are under quarantine, Mikey is in isolation. Yeah, it's kind of hard.
MARTIN: Mikey, how are you dealing with that?
HURLEY: It's really hard, but it's hopeful. And I think the thing that, you know, I didn't anticipate at all from all of this, but that I'm going to be hopefully grateful for for the rest of my life, is I went into this whole situation believing that I was going to be indispensable. And that's kind of - that's kind of a little bit how I live. You know, I live my life thinking, you know, about just our relationship and my family, and it was apparent that he had this and that Lulu was going to be OK and that he was going to do a phenomenal job, even without me in the room. And so it's shattered my perception of my own indispensability, and I think that's great because she's going to really, I don't know, she's got her Dad there and she'll always be OK as long as she has her Dad there.
MARTIN: I would imagine there's also a grief in that.
HURLEY: Oh, yeah.
MARTIN: Because you want to be the one to comfort her.
HURLEY: I do.
MARTIN: You know, you want to believe that you, as the mother, have a special role.
HURLEY: Yeah, yeah. No, it's hard and it's sad. You know, at least once a day, I give myself the liberty to cry. You know, I'm of course afraid that she's not going to remember me. I don't - I think she will. You know, I talk to her on FaceTime and we sing to her together. But yeah, it's a powerful feeling of loss, but I know it's temporary.
MARTIN: What are you singing?
HURLEY: A little Lou Reed.
MARTIN: A little Lou Reed.
HURLEY: Some Townes Van Zandt, you know, all of her favorites.
MARTIN: Her favorites she doesn't even know yet.
HURLEY: A Little Grateful Dead, and she doesn't know what a bad singer I am right now. She just thinks I'm a good singer.
MARTIN: What do you want other couples to know who might be facing the same situation?
HURLEY: Oh, gosh. I would want them to know that they're going to find out that they're much stronger than they believe when they get bad news like we got, that if they have a network of friends, they should call upon those friends. We've been incredibly lucky to have a phenomenal network of friends that have banded together to, you know, bring us dinners and do so many things for us. And you'll get through it. It's really tough, but it's temporary. And at the end of the experience, if you have a healthy baby, that's what counts.
MARTIN: Yeah. Well, I got to see Lulu through the window when my husband and I dropped off dinner the other day. And she's a beautiful baby girl, and Simon was holding her, and I can't wait to meet her in person. And thank you guys for sharing what you've been going through. Mikella Hurley and Simon Schropp, thanks to you both.
HURLEY: Thanks so much.
SCHROPP: Thanks, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.