Kennedy Amyotte’s first-born child will open her eyes to the world and see her mother’s face behind a mask.
Due Jan. 13, she will experience many of her firsts amid the isolation and uncertainty of COVID-19.
There will be no crush of friends and relatives in the hospital, no visit from grandma, no baby shower.
For Amyotte, pregnancy during the isolation of the pandemic has been emotionally and physically exhausting. She spent weeks in quarantine following a COVID-19 diagnosis last month and wonders how she and her husband, Shane Flamond, will navigate parenthood in the uncertain months ahead.
Amyotte expects to tell her daughter about it someday, years down the road.
“I’ll tell her exactly how it is,” she said. “It was a very lonely and isolating time to bring you into the world.
Amyotte’s daughter will be among the first in a wave of children conceived during the pandemic, and born just as the province shuts down again amid escalating caseloads.
“I’m actually really thankful that she’s not going to have a memory of this,” Amyotte, 30, said from her Edmonton home.
“I’m hoping that by the time her infancy is over and she goes into the toddler years, that this will be kind of a distant memory for us.”
As restrictions forced people to hunker down at home, there was conjecture over the prospect of a pandemic baby boom.
Expectant parents made their announcements with garlands fashioned of toilet paper, #madeinquarantine hashtags and quips about the pitfalls of ignoring social distancing.
But demographers say COVID-19 is more likely to discourage people from having children, as families struggle with the financial and social implications of a prolonged health crisis.
Concern and anxiety
The increased intimacy of lockdown measures has come with added caution about the future and new anxieties about the prospect of raising a child.
“Some have proposed that spending more time at home would increase births, but mostly that uncertainty is expected to reduce births,” said Roderic Beaujot, an expert in demographics and emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Western Ontario.
“They feel uncertain about the future. They’re concerned and anxious, which would mean that they do not see it as a good situation in which to have a child, if it’s not already on its way.”
Beaujot suspects there will be a baby boom when the pandemic truly resolves, much like what was seen following the end of the Second World War.
But he said some people who have postponed having a baby during the pandemic may decide to never pursue a pregnancy.
“That’s a difficult question and a rather important one,” he said.
Amyotte found out she was pregnant in April as the provincial caseload surged past 1,000 active cases.
“I mean, in hindsight, you probably wouldn’t do it again,” she said with a laugh.
“We were really, really hoping that things would have been settled down by now.
“When you first start trying to get pregnant, you’re obviously just so excited about the aspect of conceiving the baby and actually getting to that point. And then everything in between those two points of actually being pregnant and having the baby, things have been very, very strange and kind of surreal.”