All pregnancies are unique, but being pregnant amid COVID-19, is particularly different. Hey Tiger's Chief Brand Officer Mirte van der Lugt is one woman experiencing this. She’s 16 weeks pregnant with her first child (a boy!), and her husband wasn’t allowed into the hospital at her last ultrasound. Instead, he sat in the carpark and watched via FaceTime. Not getting to carry out your pregnancy the way you had envisioned - dealing with the stress of a serious health threat that could affect you or any of your loved ones, on top of all the usual pregnancy stress - is enough to warrant a fully realised breakdown. Instead, Mirte is cool as a cucumber (almost). “In the beginning, I was freaking out,” she says. “There’s a lot of unknowns and it’s tough! But then I thought about how all that stress and anxiety isn’t good for my boy. Everything I feel, he feels and I don’t want him to think of the outside world as a worrying place. I knew I needed to let it go.”
Maybe it’s because she works for a social enterprise that makes delicious chocolate (and does serious good in the coco industry), maybe it’s because she’s Dutch, or maybe it’s because she’s taken the time to really think it through (probably that one), but Mirte has decided exactly how to she wants to handle her pregnancy-amid-pandemic. She will be rational, grateful, positive and community-minded, so we hit her up for some advice.
It’s OK to grieve, stress and worry (a little).
“Today, I’m good! I went through a period of feeling really worried. We’re building a house in Daylesford, which was meant to be more of a weekend place, and we’d keep our apartment in Melbourne city for living in during the working week, but now, well, we have to finish the house. We can’t have a half-made place we’re paying a mortgage on, and we’re still wondering: can we keep the apartment? Are our businesses going to continue? We’re making some tough decisions in this space, and the other thing in my mind: I won’t get to share my pregnancy with anyone. But my baby is my priority, he’s in a safe place now and I don’t want to pass on that stress and anxiety. Instead, I started thinking about who I want to be and accepted that this is out of my control. Giving into that really helped.”
Pandemic or not, the baby is coming.
Sometimes it’s easier to get through something when you know there’s an end date. This isn’t one of those situations, we don’t know when isolation or social distancing will end. “All you can do is focus on the now, but when you’re pregnant you have your due date to count down to. There is something comforting about that.” Pandemic or not, your baby is coming.
Know the facts, but don’t get overwhelmed.
The World Health Organisation advises that while the data is limited, pregnant women are not at higher risk of severe illness due to the virus, but pregnancy causes many changes to your bodily and immune systems, so they advise taking serious precautions to protect yourself. “I want to stay educated and informed, but not get overwhelmed by frightening updates on the world’s state of affairs,” says Mirte.
Focus on the good bits.
“This is a time to appreciate the things you do have and have done. That’s the mentality we should have at the moment. I was in the Netherlands with my family at Christmas when I found out I was pregnant. It was quite poetic that I could be there with them. I actually bought the test with my mum, and got to tell my dad with my mum at the breakfast table. Now, I probably won’t get to see them for a very long time. My dad has a chronic lung illness so visits won’t happen until this is well behind us, so I’m very happy that I got to tell them in person and have that experience.”
Make the most of this time with your partner while you’re self isolating.
Once your baby comes, it’s never going to be just the two of you again, so take advantage of being locked up together. “My husband is a cabinet maker with employees, and they are still working. He’s very busy so it’s often just me at home. There’s a lot of pressure on him with work and trying to finish the house. It’s tough because on the one hand, I think we should just be staying home together, but there’s everything else to consider. And, I don’t know if this is a becoming-a-dad thing, but there’s almost like a twinkle in his eye, like ‘this is armageddon. I need to protect my family.’ Like a survival thing.”
It might not be what you planned, but enjoy your pregnancy journey.
“I’m just starting to show and got two pairs of pregnancy pants (so comfy!) but I said to my husband, that’s probably all I’ll need. If I was going into work I would have wanted more outfits to dress the bump in, but now I’m not leaving the house, I don’t need anything. I’m starting to get the urge to nest, and I will still be able to do that online, and buy as I need. My appointments will be different. My husband won’t be able to come, and at first I was sad about that, but you know, it’s not about us, this is the situation, and that’s OK. My consultations will probably be done over the phone or online, but I’m still in the early stages of my pregnancy so they haven’t given me a heap of information yet because we don’t know what the situation will be come September, when I’m due. ”
Think about the future — your baby’s future.
“I’m really interested to see what the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be on society as a whole. My fear is that no one will learn a f*cking thing. But my hope is that people are more aware of their community, its needs and appreciate social interaction. My generation of mothers will be raising children born during a global hardship. Our grandparents who went through the war would have been wondering what life would be like for their children, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out for us. In business, I think it would be great if companies started to consider how they can add to their local community, not just take from it. It’s not easy to do what Hey Tiger does. Doing what we do, you’re giving up any sort of profit in order to build this company. It takes a longtime for a return. It’s easy to say everyone should have a social impact attached to their business, but it’s hard. Not every company can give money, but there’s a lot of things you can do for good. I’m hoping conversation starts happening."
“My mother-in-law just gave us one little outfit, it’s so sweet, and my mum sent me a lamp, a Miffy lamp. Miffy is by a Dutch writer so it’s really cool to have. Those little things make it all feel very real, and I still get to do those fun things. I still get to meet our little boy, and see my husband become a dad. That’s what really matters.”
We’re isolated, but we’re not alone. We’ve teamed up with Hey Tiger to spread some #ViralKindness and #feelgood vibes this Easter. Head to Instagram and enter our comp to have a chance to win 1 of 5 feel good packs for a friend valued at over $100.