CLEVELAND — It’s one of the most monumental shifts in a person’s life; welcoming a new child into the family. Now one Northeast Ohio mom has literally written the book on raising a pandemic baby.
When her daughter Gigi was born on March 16, 2020, there were only 50 cases of COVID-19 in Ohio, the governor had just shut down gyms, and Jen Guyuron and her husband were about to join the ranks of families raising their children in circumstances they never could have prepared for.
“We were walking into Cleveland Clinic right when they were shutting down,” Guyuron said of the day her daughter was born. She thought she’d planned for everything. She had bags packed for herself and her husband, knew what outfit little Gigi would come home in, then had to face the reality of “everything dramatically changing overnight.”
Her parents couldn’t come into the waiting room, so they stayed in the hospital parking garage, just to be as close as possible when Gigi came into the world. Guyuron had only her husband by her side. When she overheard nurses talking about kicking a dad out of the next room because he was showing COVID-19 symptoms, “I remember turning to my husband and saying ‘you better not cough or sneeze,’” she said.
She was in survival mode, “in a state of shock.”
Then they got to bring Gigi home. “We came home to no hugs, no family, no anything.”
After a few weeks, the visitors started coming, if only to gaze at the new addition through a glass door. Then Guyuron was struck by inspiration. “My mom wrote a poem to my daughter and me about visiting us through the window,” she said. “It inspired me to want to write my daughter a poem.”
By the summer, she had a book on her hands. It was a labor of love highlighting all the ways the pandemic made Gigi’s first year so unique, from all the relatives visiting the baby in the window, to the ways they passed the days baking banana bread or tie-dying shirts, and everything they still have to look forward to.
The process helped her realize she wasn’t in this alone. Then “something clicked in me that I wanted to share it with other parents,” she said, so they would know they’re not alone either.
By the time her book was published in February, she had plenty of experience raising a baby during a pandemic. And she’ll need it too. “I’m actually pregnant again,” she said, “so I’m having two pandemic babies.”
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