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May 8, 2020

18 Ways That Living Through A Pandemic is ALSO Just Like Having a Baby

It’s been eleven years since the first time I had a baby, and in years since then, I have found that almost nothing is truly analogous to the experience. Until 2020, that is, notable for being the year I discovered not one but two analogies that were absolutely perfect. The first was when I got a sourdough starter back at the beginning of February, and I really wasn’t being facetious when I made the comparison—thought my approach was lighthearted, of course. But if I thought I was serious then, I’m really serious now, when we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s exactly the same, and now I am going to tell you why.

  1. The universe as we know it is shattered. Farewell to the distinctions between day and night, possible and not, our worst nightmares and reality. Between each day. There is grief and loss, and letting go of plans you made, the life you recognize, and the expectation of ground beneath your feet.
  2. There are no real answers, but in lieu of a world we recognize, and because we feel so vulnerable, we cling to dogma, signal virtue, and make up rituals to feel exempt from bad things ever happening to us.
  3. These rituals and signals become performative and are insufferably dull, and yet we share them on social media because we’re desperate for human connection.
  4. …but we’re also desperate for validation, to have all our biases and points of view confirmed, because anything otherwise only reminds us that the universe is shattered and that we’re all just clinging to life as we know it by the skin of our teeth,
  5. (Shhhh!)
  6. A person might wonder how a world could shrink so small.
  7. The ordinary world is rife with dangers we’d never considered before.
  8. If you look hard enough, you can find a doctor telling you what you want to hear. You will find that online community.
  9. Other people’s rituals and signals are anxiety-inducing and only underline that nobody really knows how to do this and we’re all making it up as we go.
  10. Everybody is getting snippy in Facebook threads.
  11. Obviously, there is not a lot a whole lot going on where you are.
  12. Nobody is getting enough sleep.
  13. Is this what the rest of my life is going to look like?
  14. I don’t remember signing up for this.
  15. But there are moments of light in the darkness, of grace. We’ve never had so much food dropped off on the porch, or received so many cards in the mail. We feel cut off from the world, and yet connected.
  16. We consider how the people with real problems must be faring, as we’ve been overwhelmed with fear and anxiety while sheltering safe at home.
  17. There are some days, sometimes, that seem almost normal.
  18. But that we’re still inside the storm makes it difficult to know whether or when it will ever be over.

And a hopeful addendum from my own experience, relevant if the analogy holds: one day it was.

One thought on “18 Ways That Living Through A Pandemic is ALSO Just Like Having a Baby”

  1. Jennie says:

    Yes! I’ve been saying this from the first few weeks. This feels like maternity leave all over again. Which actually gives me hope, because I barely remember it now, even though they were quite long periods of time.

    Also, going outside. I *want* to go to outside world but the amount of preparation and consideration required to do so is exhausting.

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