What it’s like to have a baby during a pandemic

Sarah and Tharian Botting are self-isolating at home these days in Whitehorse, but they don’t mind it too much — they’ve got a newborn to keep them happy, and plenty busy.

Their daughter, Isobel Ostara Garwyn Panthea Botting, was born early last Thursday. Her parents are overjoyed, and say Isobel seems healthy and happy.

Of course, Isobel’s also blissfully unaware of the unsettled world she’s arrived into.

“It feels a little surreal,” said Sarah. “You’re really worried about everything outside.”

“I wouldn’t say paranoid, but it’s definitely a sense of fear, and just concern about how and when things are going to start really rolling here in Yukon, and whether or not people will do everything they can to prevent it,” said Tharian.

Isobel arrived in the midst of a week where things seemed to be evolving in fast and unexpected ways. Yukon had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the time, but new precautionary measures were being introduced almost daily.

The couple could see things changing in the Whitehorse hospital’s maternity ward, in the three days they were there.

“When I got there the first day with Sarah, the doors were closed but not locked. The second day, they were kind of open. And the third day, they were completely locked down and there [were] posters up saying basically, ‘no admittance,'” Tharian said.

“It felt like we were basically in lockdown.”

On Sunday, Yukon officials announced two cases of COVID-19 — the territory’s first.

Isobel’s welcoming party will wait

The first-time parents felt safe at the hospital, and were impressed by how the workers there are dealing with new safety protocols. But the Bottings are also happy to be safe at home now, adjusting to life with a newborn while also under self-isolation.

“She’s your new baby, you want to show her off, but right now you really can’t do that other than by phone,” Sarah said.

“She is beautiful, so tiny, so fragile, and it’s on all of us to do our best to protect her, and everyone else,” said Tharian.

Many of the family’s relatives lives across the country, so they were planning to come a bit later anyway, Sarah said.

“We’ll have to see what the situation is like at that time,” she said.

Tharian said he hopes people are taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, and following all the directions from officials. He’s a former military reservist, and says the current situation “feels like we’re in a war zone.”

“Except in this case, the medical professionals are the soldiers. They are the warriors in this, and all we can do is rely on them to protect us. They are our shield at this point, and we can’t be foolish about this,” he said.

That means a welcoming party for Isobel will have to wait.

“Hopefully, if people do their part, we’ll be able to do that in a year,” Tharian said.


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