Nicola Smith has a story to tell her first child that is unlike many others.
It involves a world health pandemic, isolation, a parade, a caring family, a baby shower and most of all, love.
When Smith finally became pregnant eight months ago she and her husband, Scott, were over the moon with excitement. They had been trying to conceive, without success, for more than five years. News of the pregnancy was a dream come true for the New Glasgow couple.
“The best moment of my life was finding out I was pregnant,” Smith said.
Little did she know that in her third trimester the world as she knew it would change so dramatically as it would be in the grip of a global health pandemic.
Physical distancing requirements dictated by Public Health to help stop the spread of COVID-19 meant she was no longer able to see her mother who she was depending on for support, or other family members who were all excited to share in her joy. She was no longer able to be accompanied by her husband to pre-natal appointments.
And the baby shower she dreamed of was no longer possible.
She was crushed.
Having attended the baby showers of family members and friends over the years, she was looking forward to her own where she could celebrate the upcoming birth of her baby daughter, laugh with her family and friends, enjoy some food, open some gifts and generally bask in the glory of impending motherhood.
“My shower was pretty different,” she chuckled. “It was a pretty unique experience.”
Her aunt, Jane Hale of Stellarton, happily helped plan a surprise baby shower in a drive-by format for May 17.
“Everyone who was invited to the baby shower was invited to decorate their cars in pink balloons and streamers — she’s having a girl — meet at a parking lot and follow each other in our vehicles. We planned to stop in front of the house, drop off a gift, then the next vehicle will do the same thing.”
The drive-by shower is a first for Hale, who is a sister to Smith’s mother, Rhoda MacLeod. Hale heard about it happening on PEI so told her sister who planned the shower.
Hale thought it was a fantastic idea. “Nicola can’t go to Wal-Mart because she’s pregnant, she’s ordering everything online, and she doesn’t know what to buy. It’s so difficult with new expectant mothers.”
As luck would have it, two days before the event, Public Health eased up enough on the restrictions that people were now able to connect physically with a ‘bubble family.’ For Nicola, that family bubble was her mother.
“And that was just the best news I received in weeks,” said Smith.
Just hours after the restrictions were lifted, she enjoyed a long, heartfelt and loving hug from her mom. “It was a really emotional moment.”
And on the day of the planned baby shower, MacLeod went to her daughter’s house and invited her to go outside.
“I noticed the trunk of her car was open and I thought she was bringing a baby gift and I thought, ‘Oh, she is trying to make this so special for me’,” Smith said.
What she saw next brought her to tears: All of her family and friends drove past her house in vehicles decorated with balloons and streamers, single file, then stopped and delivered brightly packaged baby gifts.
“I immediately started crying, I was so emotional. It was such a grand gesture for people to show up and make me feel so special during a time that’s been really difficult.”
She has been having a difficult third trimester given all of the restrictions that are in place. “It’s been hard to plan, to even get things for the baby, trying to order things online, not being able to see family and friends and have that connection during a time when you’re so nervous, excited, and don’t know what to expect.”
She is grateful for the compassion and love of her family and friends for “showing up for me” during all of the ups and downs of the health situation.
And after adjusting her expectations in the face of the global pandemic, Smith made sure to maintain a positive attitude. “I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” she laughed. “It was so special and so unique and it will be a great story to tell our daughter. It’s a memory that I’m going to cherish forever.”
Oh Baby, what a shower
By Jackie Jardine
Nicola Smith and her husband Scott Smith stand in front of their house with some of the gifts they received during the drive-by baby shower that was held.
A parade of vehicles that comprised the drive-by baby shower for Nicola Smith.
Nicola Smith is due to have her first baby on June 16.
Her original plan, before COVID-19 changed the world as we know it, was to have both her mother and her husband in the delivery room.
That is in question, due to the current restrictions put in place due to the pandemic.
Sally Loring, director of women and children’s health services at the Aberdeen Hospital, confirmed that a labouring mother is able to bring a partner with her as she delivers.
Via email she said, “Once the babe has been delivered we expect them to remain in their post-natal room together — this not only helps them bond with their babe and get used to his/her cues (wants and needs) but also ensures that they are able to physically distance themselves from other families and babes. This support person is expected to be the same person for the duration of her hospitalization.”
Smith said, “I have my fingers crossed that restrictions will be eased even more” when she delivers her infant daughter.
“It’s particularly hard when it’s your first baby, you want your family there more than anything. But I’m trying to look at the positive side of things,” she said.