2020 was the best year of my life. It was also the worst.

2020 was the year my daughter was born. It was also the year that caused extreme fear, sickness, suffering, death, and devastation for so many.

And still sometimes I whisper to my husband, hardly daring to breathe it out loud, how lucky we have been to work from home with our newborn daughter for a year. It feels so wrong to feel this way, what with almost half a million Americans dead, many more sick or losing their jobs and homes because of a pandemic that has ravaged our country and world.

There shouldn’t be anything good in the middle of all this suffering.

And yet, here is my daughter – one very tangible and ever-present reminder of all that is good in the world. While moments of new motherhood have been made that much harder and frustrating and scarier because of the pandemic, they have also given way to moments with her that we savor and that make us feel deeply grateful.

Having children is a privilege. Having children in a pandemic, and being able to be with them and keep them relatively safe, is a privilege. My daughter constantly and simultaneously reminds me of what we have to lose and all that we stand to gain from all of this.

The pandemic has taken so much from us, but it has also taught me some important lessons. And it makes me think of my favorite song by Brandi Carlile about being a mother:

“The first things that she took from me were selfishness and sleep
She broke a thousand heirlooms I was never meant to keep
She filled my life with color, cancelled plans and trashed my car
But none of that Was ever who we are.”

Maybe becoming a mother and living through a pandemic have some things in common. On the less destructive end of the spectrum, the pandemic has canceled all our plans – but it also might make us come out the other side less selfish, more sure of what we value and with a stronger sense of who we truly are.

More info on the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant and lactating women can be found through the CDC and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from post-partum anxiety or depression, please seek help. You can find resources resources through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists.

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Twin Cities PBS Producer Kate McDonald chronicled her experiences with pregnancy  – and those of other expectant parents – during the COVID-19 pandemic in her series Pregnant in the Time of Coronavirus. From having to make tough decisions about who can be at the hospital during birth to how to throw a virtual baby shower, the series offers incredible insight into how our lives have changed in a pandemic.

African-American and Native American mothers are at least 3 times as likely to die within a year of giving birth in the United States. And Black Americans are 2.4 times as likely to die from COVID-19. Check out this installment of Pregnant in the Time of Coronavirus that explores the impact of racial inequities within the healthcare industry on mothers of color.

As Minnesotans looks for ways to show their support for healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, we took a look back in time to celebrate the contributions that four women – all named Ruth – made to the state’s public health system.