College sweethearts and Mercy co-workers Jaclyn and Dean Sindel share their journey as they navigate their first pregnancy and parenthood during the COVID-19 pandemic. Join Jaclyn as she openly and honestly shares her and her husband’s concerns and excitement around welcoming their first baby into the world during these uncertain times.
Blog 1: "We're Pregnant! What's Next?"
I’m a planner. I make lists and stick to them as closely as possible. Before we got married, Dean and I made a “Bucket List” of all the things we’d like to do before we started a family. Buy our first home, land our dream jobs, travel to Europe and more. Over the past two years of marriage, we’ve been lucky to cross off quite a few items, but a trip to Europe in 2021 was the last big dream before getting pregnant.
Our hopes and dreams of visiting Ireland and Germany seemed to be just that, a dream, after revelations about the global pandemic in March. When it seemed like a ban on travel wouldn’t be lifted any time soon, we decided to try for a different adventure, parenthood.
In the fall of 2020, we had our first positive pregnancy test! Dean, being an overly cautious and medically minded nurse, wanted us to take a few tests before we got too excited. After a handful of bright blue positive tests, we knew this dream had come true! We were over the moon to know our first child would be arriving in June 2021.
After the initial shock wore off, COVID-19 uncertainties and worry set in. Would Dean be able to go with me to my appointments? Could I have the vaccine when available? Could the virus harm my baby if I contract it while pregnant? All the unknowns hit me, the planner, like a ton of bricks.
What will pregnancy during a pandemic be like? We’re here to find out.
Blog 2: What does the COVID-19 vaccine mean for me?
Have you been wondering about getting the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant or after delivery? Earlier this week, I caught up with Dr. Asal Fathian, a maternal fetal medicine doctor at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, and we recorded our session. She gave an in-depth glance at what we know – and what we’re learning – about the vaccine, pertaining to pregnancy and fertility (watch below).
As for our family, Dean received the first round of the vaccine the week it became available. He’s a Mercy nurse who spends his time either working in the intensive care unit or COVID-19 unit. He’ll be receiving his second vaccine soon!
At our 15-week appointment, Dr. Julia Phillips, our OB-GYN, and Dean chatted about both having had the opportunity to get the vaccine. The two even gave each other an air high-five to celebrate doing what they can to slow the spread of the virus as health care providers.
While the vaccine is not available for me, I’m thankful for those around me who are getting vaccinated. I do plan on getting vaccinated after delivery and when it is my turn. Having a spouse working on the front lines has caused some mixed emotions in our household since the start of the pandemic. However, we’re all starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Blog 3: Not-So-Routine Precautions During the Pandemic
Dean and I began dating the month he started nursing school. I’ve never known him to want a different profession, nor could I see him doing anything but caring for other people and using his passion and skills to bring comfort to patients. It’s wild to think that before he’s even reached three full years of being a nurse, he has worked during a global pandemic and cared for people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Just like so many others, COVID-19 has caused a lot of uncertainty in our home. Since Dean is regularly caring for patients in the COVID unit, we’ve adopted new routines to keep our home clean and our bodies healthy. From his cell phone to a beanie to keep his head warm, everything gets washed or sanitized after being at the hospital. He never brings his work shoes in the house, but that has always been a rule in the Sindel house. Dean changes in our garage and puts his scrubs in a shopping bag that immediately gets taken downstairs to our laundry room and heads straight to the shower. Dean is extremely cautious about what he’s tracking into the house and could potentially be bringing home to me and our unborn baby. There have been instances over the past year where we’ve even tried to keep distance from each other inside our house due to his exposure. Coronavirus has changed the way people live their lives across the globe and our family is just one of many that has had to make alterations.
Being extra cautious about what comes in the house is something we’ve done during COVID-19 and throughout the pregnancy, but this routine is something we will continue to do indefinitely with having children and to stay healthy in the future.
This past year has opened the eyes of so many people and has brought a great deal of appreciation for essential workers who are out interacting with the public. We are so grateful for all front-line workers who have continued to keep this world afloat during such uncertain times.
Blog 4: Ultrasound and Appointment During COVID-19
Is baby Sindel a boy or a girl? We'll be finding out in the delivery room. Recently, we had our 20-week appointment, which is also known as the anatomy scan. The anatomy scan is an ultrasound where the technician takes the baby's measurements to ensure they are growing on schedule. Dean and I were able to see the flicker of the baby's heart and watch them wiggle around. Also, we heard the sound every parent loves to hear, the baby's strong heartbeat. Aside from abiding by masking rules and having our temperatures checked when we entered the hospital, this pregnancy experience was just as we've always imagined. Following COVID-19 guidelines is a small price to pay to know we're being safe, those around us are safe, and getting to see our baby on the big screen.
After our ultrasound, we met with Dr. Julia Phillips, our OB-GYN, for our scheduled check-up. At this time, Mercy Hospital Saint Louis, where we will be delivering our baby, is allowing parents to choose whether they will visit every four or every six weeks for check-ups. The purpose of this change is to allow parents to visit the hospital less often and limit exposure to COVID-19 while still prioritizing the health of the mom and baby. We've made the decision to visit every six weeks and feel confident in the choice.
Now we're in the process of finding a Mercy Kids pediatrician for our baby, gearing up to learn more about breastfeeding and what our delivery experience will look like during COVID-19. We're past the halfway point to holding our little one in our arms and we can't wait!
Blog 5: Breastfeeding During a Pandemic
Whether you choose formula or breastmilk, the most important thing is that your baby is nourished and has a full belly. I plan on breastfeeding when our baby is born. If for some reason it doesn’t work for our baby or my body is having struggles creating a supply, we will switch to formula. Choosing to breastfeed was a conversation that Dean and I had before we even tried to get pregnant. When Dean had his maternity rotation in nursing school a few years ago, we started discussing the options and now here we are. Breastfeeding during a pandemic was not something we had on our radar back then though.
Recently, I spoke with Dr. Susan Sullivan, a newborn hospitalist at Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas, about breastfeeding in the times of COVID-19. Dr. Sullivan is an advocate for the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby. Not only does she work with parents and children, but she is also a mother. Recently, she has been donating her milk supply to participate in a study about how the COVID-19 vaccine impacts breastmilk. She is donating portions of her supply and logging data about how she is feeling to help researchers gain more insight.
Dr. Sullivan shared that there are many benefits to choosing to breastfeed, but it could be even more beneficial during the pandemic. Breastfeeding is good for helping your child build their immune system. Additionally, anxieties are running higher these days and choosing to breastfeed also promotes bonding and a special time between a mother and baby.
Next up on the Sindel breastfeeding journey will be to start looking at breast pumps. At my 20-week appointment, Dr. Phillips shared a website with me to start doing research and to see what is available through my insurance. We’ve linked the website below if you are starting the search for breast pumps covered by your insurance.
Have questions for me? Or want me to find something out for you?
Email me at Jaclyn.Sindel@mercy.net
Please note, "Jaclyn's Journey" is meant to be a first-hand, exclusive look at one Mercy patient's unique experience. The information provided in this blog is unique to Jaclyn, and not intended to be medical advice and should not be substituted for the advice of your personal physician or other qualified health care professional. Please do not reach out directly to Jaclyn outside of her publicly listed email or social media posts on Mercy's various platforms. If you experience an emergency, please call 911. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care professional with any questions you may have regarding medical symptoms or a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog. We encourage interaction, discussion, commentary, questions and even criticism but ask that you keep your comments and posts relevant and respectful. Mercy reserves the right to moderate comments on this page as necessary to prevent medical, personal and confidential information from being posted. In addition, Mercy will remove all spam, personal attacks, profanity, racism, excessive posting, as well as any off-topic commentary, advertisements about goods or services or announcements about news or events not related to Mercy and may ban anyone who violates these guidelines.