As a dad-to-be, this is how I pictured the march toward our baby’s early-May due date: I’d go to every appointment, track my baby’s development right alongside my wife, and become knowledgeable enough to help ask the right questions.
And I was that guy. Then our appointment in March came, and so did the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suddenly, there were staff in full face shields posted outside the obstetrics department at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, ready to interview the one permitted and accompanying support person (read: me) about whether they have a cold. If you passed, and Purelled your hands vigorously enough, you were permitted entry.
The obstetrics department, once bustling with children and extended families free to wander as they pleased, was now limited to mothers and their partners. Medical staff certainly outnumbered patients. It made me realize how many people pre-COVID-19 didn’t really need to be there. But it didn’t really hit me that I could one day be deemed a non-essential participant, too. After all, I’m the father — one half of the offspring equation. The kid wouldn’t even exist without my contribution.
Two weeks later, non-patients were barred from attending appointments.
The reality was, Mom was keeping the baby alive. Biologically, at least, I’d been a groupie since conception.
With my wife fortunate enough to feel every roll, kick and hiccup of our little one in utero, pre-COVID-19 ultrasound visits were the strongest connection I had to something I knew intellectually would change my life forever, but still felt emotionally distant from.
I tried to make up for my redundancy by being an excellent emotional support to my wife. So much of pregnancy is a solo endeavour that’s difficult to articulate — she felt secure knowing she could dump her thoughts on me, sometimes just to hear them out loud.
COVID-19 made all those nice intangibles impossible. My wife would catch me up on what happened at each appointment, as best she...