As a first-time mom, it’s practically my job to worry about everything. Having my baby arrive 11 weeks early and then facing a global pandemic not long after being discharged from the NICU definitely hasn’t helped me to chill out.
All babies have a ton of appointments in their first year: well-baby visits, vaccinations, development and weight checks. With a premature baby the number of appointments increases tenfold. I used to joke that I was like my son’s personal assistant with all of the appointments I needed to schedule for him!
When California issued the stay at home order back in March, one of my first concerns was around medical visits and my baby’s ongoing care. Essential appointments would be kept and traveling to them would be OK, but how would ‘essential’ be defined? It really wasn’t clear and remains a grey area.
Well-baby visits are pretty important, and after attending one with my son during the first week of shelter-in-place, I assumed that they were considered essential. However, I’ve since spoken to moms of other babies whose well-baby visits have been moved to video calls.
For me, the lockdown visits actually feel a little less scary; the medical offices are so quiet and I trust everyone else is disinfecting and being careful. Temperatures are checked on the way in and only one parent is allowed to accompany a child.
After my son’s 9-month well-baby check last week, I felt a huge weight had been lifted when his doctor gave him a clean bill of health. If I hadn’t taken him in person, there would have been a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that something had been overlooked on the video.
One of my son’s development clinics was moved to video call. I had reservations about this because of the nature of the consultation–would they really be able to spot developmental issues over a video call? I answered their questions as best I could but I’m not an expert and I was worried something might get missed. I’ve been assured that he’ll be invited to an in-person clinic as soon as it’s safe to run them.
In April, an ophthalmology appointment got cancelled, with no rescheduled date so far. I’m trying not to worry about that one.
I did learn that it’s important to get pre-authorization from your insurance before committing to any video calls to avoid unexpected bills, and that if for any reason you’ve traveled out of state, practitioners in California legally aren’t allowed to complete telemedicine appointments with clients who are not physically located in-state.
This month we have a cardiology appointment that I’m feeling anxious about. Part of that stress is that my son has a known heart condition so it’s absolutely an essential visit. The thing is, it involves a trip to the hospital campus, where I worry that the risk of coming into contact with COVID patients or those treating them is considerably higher.
Trying to weigh out the potential risk of delaying an important visit with the risk of exposing my baby to COVID has been a constant source of worry and anxiety for me. As the lockdown begins to ease and things start to re-open, it’s always in the back of my mind that there isn’t a cure and COVID is still out there in the community.
At the end of the day, I have to put my trust in the medical community and have confidence that they have the knowledge and expertise to determine which appointments should and shouldn’t go ahead. I’m hoping for the end of the pandemic but until then the best I can do is muddle through, weigh out the risks, trust the professionals, and hope for the best.