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Three mothers reflect on pregnancy, birth, and faith during pandemic Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Angela Curio, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, May. 07, 2020 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- Pregnancy can be both a joyous and stressful time for new mothers. It can come with health hurtles, worries about the future, but usually not to the level of a global pandemic.

Three new and expecting mothers -- Tabitha Hansen, Diana Bur, and Kristin Dvorsky -- talked about what it is like to be expecting a child during this time and how their faith has been supporting them in their struggles.

Offering it up

Tabitha Hansen, a convert to Catholicism and member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison, had already lost three children to miscarriage and has four living children. Her daughter, Julia, is due to be born in September.

 

Since the Safer at Home order, "Most of my appointments for this pregnancy have switched to phone visits," she said in an email. "While not ideal, this is okay for me, because this is not my first. If it was, then this would be even worse."

Hansen expressed that she is not too worried about catching Covid but that she's been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster. "Because everything is shut down, I cannot go see the support system I had carefully built up for the past 7.5 years."

From going to her 20-week ultrasound by herself to not being able to develop the types of relationships she wants with her midwives, things have drastically changed for maternity care.

"I can't actually see (my midwives) again until I'm 28 weeks. At that point, I believe it will have been 17 weeks since I last saw one of (them) in person."

But since being received into the Church in Easter of 2013, Hansen says she has developed a strong devotion to Mary and to offering up her personal struggles. Having faced a lot of physical pain with her pregnancies, she has thus learned to turn her suffering into a form of prayer.

"I offer up the suffering of one week of my pregnancy for a specific person," she said. "I try to think of this person every time I have my hours and hours of pain that week and pray for them and their needs."

She also calls on the Blessed Mother to assist her in these prayers. "'I know I am offering this suffering for this person, but please, Mary, can you help me do that?' I feel like that is my litany. 'Please, Mary, help me get through this next minute.'"

'Worry is useless'

Kristin Dvorsky, a Catholic from Sun Prairie and owner of Faustina FertilityCare Center, is still in her first trimester. Due in December, she said her biggest fear during this time is the unknown.

"We don't have a lot of information yet on how this virus affects pregnant women, especially if they were to get it in their first trimester," she said.

"There's also the fear of going to the doctor's office during this time. That's the one place most people are trying to avoid, and it's essential for me to go there during this time.

"Lastly, being due in December, I am afraid that there will be a second wave, and we will face problems with that."

Despite her fears, Dvorsky finds the ability to stay strong through her faith.

"I often think of and turn to St. Padre Pio who is famously quoted saying, 'Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.'"

As an instructor of the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, she is in contact with numerous women either trying to avoid pregnancy, trying to achieve it, or who are currently pregnant.

"Generally speaking, the fears I hear the most from clients are from those who are due during this time," she said. "The fear of not knowing if their husband will be able to be at the birth, the fear of testing positive for Covid-19 and wondering if they will get separated from their baby, and, in general, frustrated they won't have the birth experience they have been preparing for."

The advice she has for such women is to look up the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and advocate for yourself. "And prayer. Prayer during labor and delivery, especially offering your suffering up for others, is so incredibly powerful. Do not underestimate the power of prayer."

Giving birth during Safer At Home

Diana Bur, another parishioner from St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison, recently gave birth to her second daughter on April 25 at St. Mary's Hospital during the Safer-at-Home order.

While the couple was concerned that her husband would not be allowed to attend the birth, he was present during his daughter Charlotte's birth.

"My husband was screened upon arrival for symptoms, and our temperatures were taken," she said. "(He) was also unable to leave at any time during the hospital stay. If he left, he would not be allowed back."

Other precautions the hospital had taken included high levels of PPE for the medical staff. "Also, some gas medications and pain management options were not allowed. We weren't able to walk around once we were in the delivery room," added Hansen.

The couple, who has been married for three years, learned to lean on their faith to find solace during their pregnancy and delivery.

"We prayed for God to help us stay calm and open- minded," Bur said. "My husband and I were able to work from home, so we were fortunate to have the gift of more time spent together as a family.

"Anything worrying us could not be solved by us, so we needed to offer up our insecurities and fears to God."

After a challenging stay at the hospital, the Burs are doing well, once again turning to God to find their strength.

"Without our knowledge that God would always be there," Bur said, "I fear this pandemic could leave our family feeling weak and vulnerable. We had our moments of worry, but overall, we found fortune for the time we had together."

Her advice to anyone preparing to give birth during this tricky time is to "find the support you need where you can. Things can become scary and overwhelming but keep in mind the goal is a happy and healthy baby. Turning to family, friends, and God will allow you to find strength and peace."

 
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