Letter To Our Unborn Child

To our soon-to-be born child,

We found out we were pregnant with you during our Christmas vacation in Medellin, Colombia. There was of course much excitement with a touch of trepidation, but in the time since you were conceived and over the course of your development in utero, the world has ceased to exist in the way we once knew it. We have experienced a complete paradigm shift. I’ve summarised some of the events that happened for us as a family because we truly are living through an historical moment- one that will move beyond the front-page headlines and exist in cyber space and books far beyond our time here on Earth.

Photo credit: Rebekah Joy Monzon

Firstly, we had arranged to move out of our apartment in Oldsmar and back into our house in Safety Harbor at the end of February. Your father and Granddad worked really hard to ensure the house renovations were completed. We made our move-out date on time, however, the numbers of people diagnosed with COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) kept increasing. The World Health Organization officially declared the Coronavirus a pandemic on March 11th. In an effort to “flatten the curve” the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, issued a statewide stay-at-home order early April. Your brother William ended his school year in the traditional way and started his Digital VPK from home on March 30th. Your sister Madeline celebrated her 3rd Birthday the very next day. We also enjoyed an at-home Easter egg hunt.

Time in quarantine was not easy and put a strain on everyone. We would only leave the house for walks. We tried to keep our minds and hands occupied by completing projects. Again, your Dad and Granddad worked together to build garden beds for fresh herbs and a few vegetables. We decorated your rooms and made the house more homely. Your Grandma taught me to make delicious pastry for “Cornish” pasties. While we ticked off numerous items from our home to-do list we also had to be cautious of spending, as your father and myself were one of the millions of Floridians that filed for unemployment.

On May 18th Phase One of Reopening began. There was a sense of hope that everything would revert to normal, that we would no longer need to wear masks, and we would be able to move around without concern of contracting a deadly virus. The parks opened up and we took William and Madeline to the slides and swings to rejoice in this freedom. But during the past few months, the number of diagnosed cases and deaths has become evermore startling. The curve did not flatten. We have been told the economy cannot handle another lockdown and will not revert to the safety measures or protocols put in place in April. Phases of reopening proceeded. The anxiety remained. My biggest fear is being an asymptomatic carrier and unknowingly making a loved one like your Grandma sick.

We are all trying to be cautious. We stay mostly to ourselves. We celebrated your cousin Lilly’s Birthday at their house in Land O’Lakes, just the family. The same kind of low-key Birthday party was held for William on July 3rd. In effect every one of your siblings and cousins will have celebrated a Birthday during COVID-19 which is an interesting fact considering the initial projections and estimates of when the pandemic would be over.

Your Abuelo and Abuela are in Santa Elena Colombia, at La Casa Grande. They stay mostly isolated at home but are looking forward to the moment the airports open up and they can safely travel here to visit. We are all trying to adjust to a more virtual reality while these travel restrictions are in place. There was an article in the Tampa Bay Times by Jay Cridlin, Jack Evans and Claire McNeill that adequately sums up what it has been like to adapt to this new normal: “At first, we washed our hands longer. We stopped hugging. We started working from home, if we were lucky enough to still have jobs, and tried to stay productive. We kept our kids occupied before and after distance learning. We video chatted for happy hours. We learned about all the ways to use canned beans. We sewed masks from whatever textiles we could grab. We found new ways to celebrate milestones, and new ways to mourn. We adapted, because adaptation is an intrinsically human trait.”

As of August 1st 2020, there have been 17, 660, 523 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 680, 894 confirmed deaths worldwide. On this date Florida recorded 9,642 new coronavirus cases. The positivity rate in the State is said to be about 11%. The numbers are mind-blowing. It’s hard not to be frightened; these are human beings after all, not just statistics. We keep our sanity by enjoying the outdoors. Our favourite pastime has not changed. We continue to access the fresh salty sea air on the beaches, safetly distancing ourselves more than 6 feet away from others. Despite the fear and anxiety, in many ways this pandemic has brought us closer together as a family.

Time is melting away like ice cream on a hot summer day. You will probably be born on August 18th by scheduled cesarean. Your father recites the Colombian saying, “Bebes vienen cargados bajo del brazo,” which means you will arrive bearing happiness and goodwill, but you already have because thinking of your arrival, and how excited we are to meet you are the positivity and light that brightens up our days during these uncertain times. We are so close. Stay safe and healthy for now and always.

With all my love, your Mother.

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