I always loved the idea of being an uncle or a father. That might sound a bit strange, but I really love kids; I’ve been doing volunteer work and extracurriculars that involve working with underprivileged or disabled children since I was a teenager. Watching such special minds grow was such a joy to witness. I always thought it would be nice to have a kid of my own to truly personally experience that. My own parents were absolutely amazing and my childhood was filled with nostalgic memories of picnics in Central Park and little league soccer. Recreating those magical moments would be wonderful.
I’m not married but my sister is, and I was so happy when we all found out she was pregnant earlier this year. At the time of her pregnancy announcement in January, COVID was still such a small thing— it hadn’t gained too much attention yet. Even as February rolled along, the coronavirus still had yet to put a damper on our family’s plans of how to celebrate and prepare for the baby’s arrival. I remember my sister telling me she wanted to have her baby shower in May and how our parents wanted to be in the delivery room to meet their first grandchild. My brother in law’s parents were going to hop on a flight in a couple weeks before the due date to help them get ready and to make sure that everything went smoothly. I was filled with joy for my sister, and I was already looking forward to having a little nephew or niece to spoil and spend time with.
But as the weeks passed, it seemed that with the rising wave of the pandemic, a new wrench was thrown into our carefully composed plans. First, it was the overwhelming arrival of all the baby furniture, books, clothes, and toys. I know my sister and her husband had spent hours creating their perfect nursery, but because COVID was impacting factories and warehouses, the deliveries kept getting hit with delays and order cancellations. They kept having to change and revamp their initial image. Then, it was the baby shower. My sister initially wanted to invite around twenty-five of her closest friends and family, but by the time May came around, social distancing was a huge issue. Not wanting to put others at risk or the baby, they decided to have an online baby shower. By that time, all the decorations had arrived and so me, my sister, and her husband sat together surrounded by all the streamers and balloons but without the physical warmth and love of our closest friends. After that, her husband’s parents were unable to fly over due to certain travel restrictions. And lastly, my parents, who live in the same town, were told they couldn’t be in the delivery room for the actual birth.
But when the baby was actually born, all those trials and tribulations seemed meaningless the moment we held him. A baby is so innocent, not yet aware of conflict and suffering. It made me sad yet somehow hopeful that moments of joy and bliss could exist during a time of such uncertainty and chaos. I also wondered how we would tell our children the story of their births. What would they think, looking back on this years later, knowing that they had been born in such a tumultuous time? Would I tell my nephew that his journey into the world had been filled with more worry and panic rather than calm and preparedness? Or would I choose to say that his arrival only made this whole experience more worthwhile and that he brought so much joy to us all during such a dark time? One thing I know for sure is that the pandemic has changed the way I look back on the past and how I will retell it in the future. The coronavirus has changed the way I narrate the past chapters of my life and has helped me realize that our lives can change so unexpectedly.
Written by: Debi Chakrabortti