Stepping into parenthood is not just a life-altering experience but also one that comes with unknowns and uncharted waters. But parenthood in a global pandemic? That’s a whole new ball game. I sat down with Usui Reiki Master Teacher and Author Angelika Sharma to learn more about her experience as a new mom during the COVID-19 pandemic that inspired her to share her experiences in her new book, Raising Generation C: Pregnancy, Pandemic, Parenting.
Can you tell me about the journey to writing this book?
Surprisingly, I only really had to make the decision to release the book, as the writing part took care of itself. Whenever I rocked my baby to sleep, walking up and down the same dark hallway, these thoughts and sentences kept repeating in my mind. I would realize things such as the fact that I gave birth on Zoom (because my doula could not be in the room) months later and the thoughts circled until I wrote them down. It calmed my mind to process the experience in this way. I then also gained the clarity that I wanted to use my writing to reach out to others and start the conversation on what so many new parents are going through right now.
What helped you shift your mindset to approach this time with adaptability?
As a Reiki Master Teacher, self-healing is part of my daily practice; that said, this experience required a full tool-kit of approaches, such as writing to process, self-Reiki, and becoming conscious of new ways of coping I was developing. I knew this was going to be uncomfortable and that avoiding it would only make it harder, so I leaned in. There were good days and really hard days, and on the latter, it was always my husband who saved the day by holding space for me and bringing me back to center.
Based on your experience, what nuggets of advice can you give expecting parents who are journeying pregnancy and postpartum during this time?
- It’s hard but also full of joy, but you have to feel both (in healthy ways).
- Postpartum mixed with COVID overwhelm is hard. There is an opportunity to be raw and real in unexpected ways because truly no one expects another human being right now to have it all together.
- Time alone can come in tiny chunks in isolation but make it a priority to take it.
- If you have social anxiety around meeting others in person, it’s OK to have your own rules and stick to them. There is no single best way or proven way to do this.
- Time to connect with friends can come in tiny chunks, too. People now are happier to connect for 5 min on facetime (until the next diaper), without putting on a face first, than ever before.
- Identify your virtual village: Other moms, friends, family. There always is a mom who is awake.
- Find your outlet: Thoughts that repeat on your mind ought to be written down or spoken or shared in some form, even a simple whiteboard shared with a co-parent.
Are there any other takeaways that may help parents navigate these unprecedented times?
- In all the fear I failed to foresee the joyful moments: they will come
- I have come to understand that the birth support I received (doula on zoom) was more comprehensive than I even had imagined pre-pandemic.
- Once we broaden our view, we can be compassionate with those whose roles too are different to what they had expected: Dads, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
- There is comfort in knowing we are all just doing our best given the circumstances. It will change.
How can the rest of us support expecting parents during this time, despite the limitations of a pandemic?
Make them feel seen: for all the goodness and for all the hard stuff too. Imagine that they are running a marathon for the first time and you’re standing by the sidelines. Perhaps you have run one yourself, perhaps you can’t imagine what they’re going through. We don’t have to have solutions for everyone’s specific journey to be able to let them know that we are standing on the sideline, cheering them on, handing them water, or whatever is possible if they ask us to help. And when the time is right and we can all be together again in person, be there to welcome them – perhaps with a hug or little celebration as you would welcome someone who has just run a marathon.
About Raising Generation C: Pregnancy, Pandemic, Parenting
Want to be a fly on the wall glimpsing the real life of a new mom of 2020? Look no further for a heartfelt and lighthearted account to start the conversation on Generation C.
In 2020, pregnancy and becoming a parent seriously changed: from giving birth on Zoom to leaving the house in any way – you will find it documented here. Grab your favorite quarantine snack and join a new mom, her husband, and 6-month-old baby, who is convinced her grandparents live in an iPad.Eleven essays document the ups and downs of preparing and worrying about how to be a new parent during a pandemic, to wondering how anyone did it before one. It’s the book on parenthood you have time to read.