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Motherhood during a pandemic: Quarantined with a newborn

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Kern County is in the process of reopening, but bringing societal norms back doesn’t take away from the losses that have come with a historic pandemic. 

The majority of Americans have faced unprecedented change, including first-time mothers. 

A newborn meets a world unlike the one we used to know. How do new mothers adapt to such drastic change?

Several local mothers said the journey has come with its own set of challenges. Being a new mother during a quarantine has also come with another form of isolation. 

So, how do you define the mother who welcomes a newborn into the world, when life has evolved into something so foreign?

Dorothy Peterson, a woman born during the Spanish flu, said her mother faced personal challenges while giving birth during the last pandemic.

“I would suspect that my mother was not a very strong person,” Dorothy Peterson, born during the 1918 Spanish flu said. “It could’ve been because she was concerned about the flu epidemic.” 

Peterson said she doesn’t remember much about the Influenza Pandemic in 1918. 

Perhaps it’s because the 102-year-old Bakersfield woman was born the same year the world faced its last pandemic. 

Dorothy said her family rarely brought up that painful time. 

“I haven’t the slightest clue,” Peterson said. “Maybe they just wanted to forget it, bury it.” 

While the woman who has lived through two pandemics gives us a glimpse into the past, some might ask: Is history repeating itself? 

If this is familiar territory, how does a new mother overcome the challenges of given birth during a quarantine? 

“We’ve had family members come through and look through a window in the house,” Tiffany Arias, a local mother who gave birth during quarantine said. “It just pulls at your heartstrings.” 

Local mothers share the challenges that have come with raising a newborn during a pandemic. 

“You’re just watching the news and thinking what world am I bringing this miracle that we waited 12 years for into,” Heather Wondra, a local mother who had her baby during the pandemic said.

The mothers say the experience has been unlike anything they could have ever imagined.

“The hospital was practically empty; it was almost eerie,” Arias said. 

 Yet in the face of uncertainty, they saw a silver lining. 

“It’s hard because you don’t see friends or family,” Arias said. “But you have your little family with your kids.” 

They found gratitude, and a recognition of their own strength. 

“If you would’ve told me ten years ago, ‘You’re going to do this,’ I would be like no, I am not strong enough to handle that,” Wondra said. “But if anything, I feel like that’s how I’ll look back on it. I’ll remember, we did that.”

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