Here's what it's like being new parents in Toronto during the pandemic
Two weeks ago photographer Rachel Meyer gave birth to her first child, and while it's never easy being a first time parent, the pandemic has added extra challenges and disappointments Meyer never expected.
Even before she went into labour cracks started to form in her plan. She says the hospitals implemented a one visitor limit, which meant Rachel had to cancel the photographer and videographer she had planned to capture this special moment.
And the new visitor limitations meant that her mom couldn't be with her either.
"I really wanted my mom there," Rachel said sadly.
On March 26, Rachel was called into the hospital to be induced into labour. When she arrived at the hospital with her husband, Lorne Meyer, they could only describe it as "eerie" – completely devoid of the usual hustle and bustle that hospitals have.
But despite the growing pandemic, Rachel never felt unsafe. She says the hospital took things very seriously, and described the various extra safety measures and precautions that were in place.
Finally, on March 27, after 10 hours of labour Riley Sky Meyer was born.
"Our hearts have never been so full," read the caption of Rachel's Instagram account.
But two hours after she gave birth her husband was forced to leave the hospital due to the new pandemic rules and Rachel was left alone with her new daughter.
"It was really lonely and scary and it's not what I had planned ," Rachel told blogTO in a telephone interview. "I slept a total of 15 minutes the first night."
When she was reunited with her husband the next day, she was elated to be going home.
"I was just so happy to get out of the hospital," she said.
But Riley's welcome home was very different from what Rachel had envisioned.
"When I got pregnant I thought I can't wait to have everyone there," she explained, adding that her mom was going to stay for a few weeks to help out. "However, we were strongly advised to keep our distance for 14 days from anybody, we were 'contaminated' from the hospital."
So instead of a big welcome home Rachel's parents stood on the opposite side of the driveway wearing masks holding up signs.
"Arriving back home I burst into tears as I saw my parents waiting in our driveway with “welcome home” signs. It might not have been the way I imagined it but it’s our reality and it’s only temporary," Rachel wrote in an Instagram post that showed Riley's arrival at their home.
It's been 18 days since Riley and Rachel came home from the hospital and the only interaction Riley has had with her grandparents is through a FaceTime screen or a window.
"It's heart breaking," Rachel said. "I know it's only temporary but it's definitely not what imagined. It's a shattered dream."
Despite the less than ideal circumstances Rachel and her husband have been coping.
"I think because we don't know any different we can't compare it to anything else. We haven't had any other options. We're up every two or three hours with her and it gets overwhelming but I look at my daughter and I don't care what's going. Nothing can take away the happiness that a baby can bring you," she said.
Rachel and her husband have also gained a deeper appreciation for each other through this experience.
"Being by ourselves, and being first time parents, the most important thing that we realised was we need to be very conscious about every thing we're doing for each other and thanking each other for things you wouldn't really say thank you for," said Lorne.
And like everyone, the family is eagerly awaiting the pandemic to be over.
"I'm most looking forward to a hug," Rachel said through tears. "A hug for me from my parents and seeing my parents being able to hug Riley."
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