I gave birth during a scheduled C-section to my twin daughters in the middle of summer five years ago. I waddled my 36-week belly into labor and delivery at 6am on July 13th, 2015, eager to see the babies who’d kicked me and evaded all ultrasound wands for the entirety of my pregnancy. Would they look like their 3D ultrasound photos? I was skeptical.
I could not imagine giving birth this year, in the throes of COVID-19, with the possibility of my partner not being allowed in the delivery room with me. What if I also needed to wear a mask while navigating the fears, the pokes and prods, the untold stories of what it means to prepare one’s body for a C-section (like the shaving of one’s pubic hairs), and the emotions that accompany giving birth for the first time and the anticipation of seeing my babies? What if I also needed to wear a mask during childbirth?
It sounds incredibly difficult. But guess what? So does childbirth itself. We do it anyway and we make it work. The #WearADamnMask circulating on social media gives us a peek into what birthing moms are experiencing this summer. And it makes us wonder why, if a person can tolerate a mask while simultaneously enduring the physical trauma of labor and birth, people are so up in arms about wearing one when they’re popping into the store.
I think Amil gets straight to the point, don’t you?
I laboured for 7 hours and gave birth in a mask so I think the rest of you can wear one for like 10 minutes to go inside a store to grab a Jamba Juice or whatever you do
— amil (@amil) June 17, 2020
Is your Jamba Juice or latte worth risking someone’s life for, say, five or ten minutes while you run into the store mask-less? Meanwhile, Amil birthed an entire baby out of her vagina over seven hours while masked. Take slow breaths as you stop into Juice Generation or Starbucks, but wear your mask.
Steph, also a woman after my own heart, isn’t tiptoeing around anything.
I kept the mask on while I lost 1.5 liters of blood, and for the two days I spent in recovery. I kept it on when I saw my baby in the NICU, even though it meant waiting to kiss him until we went home. But sure, you need your deep breaths in the frozen food aisle, what the fuck
— Steph Cha (@stephycha) May 25, 2020
I mean, after all, she birthed a “whole-ass baby” while you, our mask-less shopper, complained about picking up groceries from Whole Foods while wearing a mask. Try taking a shit after childbirth and you’ll happily put on a face mask to wait in the grocery store line. This isn’t an us (moms birthing babies) and them (you, the mask-less loser) debate. It is a fact that wearing a mask while in public protects you and others. To slow the spread, we can wear a mask. To end the spread, we can all be diligent about following the guidelines of the CDC (and educating ourselves on what other countries have found successful).
And then there is Wonder Woman, Jai who labored for thirty-eight hours and then needed a c-section — she also wore a mask during childbirth.
If I can wear a mask through 38 hours of labor, a c-section, and recovery . . . You can do it for an hour while running to the grocery store and/or other errands. #WearADamnMask
— Jai Kershner (@jaikershner) June 26, 2020
So, I ask all the mask-less shoppers and errand runners, why can’t you wear a mask? Oh, it’s uncomfortable? So is getting a needle in your spine! You can’t breathe wearing it? Trying breathing in between contractions, I hear that doesn’t feel great either.
What you must understand about what it means to wear your mask, is that it’s a selfless act. You are looking out for the stranger (hopefully) standing six feet apart from you at the grocery store. You are protecting an unborn baby, or the grandmother of your best friend, by simply putting it on and wearing it properly.
If Jai and all her new-mom counterparts can birth another human while masking up, you can make sure your mask is over your nose and deal with a couple minutes of fog on your glasses.