• Mary MacCarthy

Pregnant attorney fears Covid-19 impact on hospitals

Updated: May 7, 2020

Kirsten Roszel is a self-employed attorney specializing in family law and estates/trusts/wills - who is expecting her first baby in June.

We spoke by phone on March 24, just a few days after some U.S. hospitals announced that women giving birth will be on their own - spouses and partners are banned from maternity wards due to COVID-19 restrictions.

That's not yet the case where Kirsten lives - in Colorado - but she fears what could happen in the coming months.

HOW AM I GETTING BY? Well barely, I think! I live with my 80 year-old grandmother and my husband, and I’m pregnant - baby is due in June. It’s stressful, I feel anxious and helpless, and I cry - because of the hormones…

My pregnancy is considered fairly high risk so my doctor had already placed me on limited activity for January and February. I feel like I’ve been on house arrest since the start of the year. So my business had already slowed down considerably. I’m not taking on many new clients, and not litigating at all… I’m lucky that socio-economically we are upper middle-class. Until recently I was making good money, and for now my husband is able to work from home. My grandmother also contributes, because she gets Social Security and some retirement income. Realistically, we could keep our household going for 6-8 months without new income, if necessary. I can’t imagine being a service worker now, or dependent on government services for food or anything else.

For my pregnancy, I go to the obstetrician once every three weeks. My latest appointment - on Monday - was completely different from the appointment at the start of March. Spouses are no longer allowed into the medical offices, but they did let me FaceTime my husband during the actual visit with the doctor. Every single person in the office was wearing a mask. Even the doctor kept a physical distance from me - not pulling up a chair next to me, but standing in the corner of the exam room.

The ultrasound technician had no choice but to come close - since the technicians sit just a few feet away from the patient. She told me that she wasn’t wearing the right mask to protect herself from the virus, because they are not being provided with the right masks.

I was wearing a mask, and everyone kept asking me if I was sick. I told them that I was just wearing it for extra protection. Honestly, if I had been sick I don’t know if they would have seen me.

The hospital has cancelled all the preparatory classes like Lamaze and breastfeeding. I’m going to walk in to have this baby with just YouTube videos, a book, and advice from friends. It’s crazy what has happened in the last 21 days.

I asked my doctor a lot of questions. He said that for now the maternity ward isn’t even requiring extra protections for COVID-19. My husband is the only person who will be allowed into the birthing room, but if I have to have a C-section, he won’t be allowed into the operating room - because they don’t want to waste a surgical mask and gown.

My doctor tried to be optimistic. He assured me that China got over the virus in three and a half months.

But honestly, I’m terribly concerned what the hospitals might look like for my due date in June. What if there are no beds left? If I have a complication, will there be a ventilator for me? I don’t want to give birth and die.

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