Rachel Marsh gave birth to her son Benji on Feb 1. That same day, Massachusetts confirmed its first case of COVID-19. And ever since, motherhood has been an isolating and anxiety-inducing experience for Marsh and many other new moms.
"It's frightening, slightly," she said. "Being a new mom is scary enough. The fear of something happening to yourself or your child is much higher because this virus is so infectious."
Marsh, who lives in Framingham, said she knows the percentage of kids who contract the coronavirus is small — a six-week-old in Connecticut recently died from the virus — but to her "it's still a large enough percentage to be scary."
But a couple of weeks ago, Marsh found some reassurance from a new group of friends. They're part of a virtual support group for new moms in the era of pandemic-induced isolation. They get together once a week in a video conference to troubleshoot challenges.
"Things like, did the baby sleep through the night? Are you struggling with breastfeeding or are you struggling with formulas?" Marsh recalled from a couple of the meetings. "A lack of sleep during any time of life is extremely stressful. So relating on things like that."
There are worries any new mom can relate to, but can be exacerbated in a time of crisis. And that's what prompted clinical social worker Liz Sarantopoulos, with a private practice in Sudbury, to start the group.
"Most moms do have a piece of anxiety after they have a baby," said Sarantopoulus who experienced postpartum depression after she had her baby five years ago. "When there is that lack of control and worry and you have predisposed risk factors, you're more likely to experience sort of an emotional complication after birth."
The group has been meeting Monday afternoons. So far, six moms, mostly from Framingham, have joined in.
While there is worry and fear, Kenna Iles said she's trying to find the silver lining in being home with her 10-month-old daughter, Cameron.
"I am going to be lucky enough to witness her walking milestone. Hopefully within the next few weeks, she'll be walking," she said. "And it was something I kinda mourned before she was even close to it, just knowing that I was probably going to be a work and that I would hear about it maybe from daycare."
As a result of the crisis, other moms are able to work from home and see their babies' key developments.
Marsh, whose son was born two months ago, said she's thinking about how she'll tell her son about this experience when he's older.
"You were born during a time that the world was slowly kind of falling apart, but the community was holding it together," she said.
While being a new mom during the spread of coronavirus is frightening, Marsh's son Benji is providing light during this dark time.