Kelsey Hanlon ’11 BA, ’12 BSN, MSN, CNM, WHNP-BC
Midwife, OB triage
Virtua Voorhees Hospital, Voorhees Township, NJ
March 22, 2020
Last night, walking into work, I couldn’t help but juxtapose the blossoming trees and singing birds to the feeling that the world is crumbling around us. As a pregnant health care provider, everything feels particularly heavy. My heart aches. It aches for fellow healthcare providers as they use makeshift protective equipment, feeling let down by a system that is, quite frankly, failing; as they risk their own health for the health of others; as they struggle to find calm in the midst of the storm that is unfolding. It aches for fellow expecting mothers as they scramble to reenvision their entry into motherhood without the presence of their loved ones; as they cancel mother blessings and baby showers; as they face the challenges of the early postpartum period, a time that can be raw and isolating as is, feeling even less supported.
It is difficult not to worry about this virus’s potential implications on my own life: that exposure at work and inadequate protective equipment will make me and my family ill; that it will prohibit me from feeling the tender touch of someone else’s warm skin on mine as I labor to bring my second baby earth side; that our families won’t be able to travel to support us and love on Dot; that I’ll enter this new phase of motherhood from a place of anxiety, sorrow, exhaustion, and loss instead of empowerment and joy. I have been struggling to balance these fears with the recognition that the only place I can truly be is right here, right now. This gives me great empathy for my patients, but it also aches in the deepest places.
Last night, I cared for a new mother who had not planned to have an unmedicated birth, but her labor had moved along rather quickly. She kept saying she felt so weak, that she couldn’t do it. But her innate strength and wisdom in those moments brought me to my knees. Being invited into the holy space of her labor dance felt so sacred. And for the first time in many days, bathed in that holiness, I felt removed from the chaos engulfing us right now. The world may be crumbling, but women everywhere are bravely bringing babies into the world, trees are blooming, birds are singing. Hallelujah anyway.