In the midst of COVID-19 unknowns, vaccination questions, and ever-changing hospital protocols, having a baby during these times can be challenging.
When Jonathan Skinner, a morning news reporter, and his wife Ebony became pregnant during the pandemic, they were thrilled—but there were also a lot of unknowns.
“We had a lot of concerns,” Jonathan says. “How will we make sure Ebony stays healthy? How will we ensure that the baby gets here safely? What financial changes will we make? Should Ebony get vaccinated?”
With a lot of guidance from medical professionals, family, and friends, they made the decision that Ebony would get vaccinated. They also decided to hire a doula since it was their first child and the couple was new to Birmingham. They chose to go with Nadia Gramby, the owner of Crown of Glory Birth Services.
“We did virtual child birthing classes with her and other new parents,” Jonathan says. “This helped us understand the birthing process, postpartum care, and really helped us develop a mindset to understand the beauty of this journey and consider what we wanted or didn’t want to be a part of our birthing process. Nadia also helped me to find ways to support Ebony during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. The virtual sessions were invaluable, especially since COVID made it impossible to go to in-person birth classes.”
COVID also played a factor in choosing a hospital. Jonathan says they initially wanted to select one of the larger hospitals in Birmingham but they weren’t allowing spouses to join women for their doctor appointments. They also only allowed one person in the delivery room for the birth, which would eliminate the doula and potentially a close friend from being present. With those in mind, the couple chose to go with a smaller hospital that allowed Jonathan and the doula to be present for all the important moments.
“We had a great experience and really felt like we had a dedicated team especially for us,” Jonathan says. “They made us feel comfortable and valued and respected our birthing preferences. They even let me be the person to catch Brandon as he came out, which made it even more special for me.”
“I lack the necessary vocabulary to describe how amazing it feels to be Brandon’s dad,” Jonathan says. “The joy is indescribable. Seeing him every day feels surreal, it’s literally like seeing a miniature version of my wife and me combined.
Since the Skinners’ biological families live outside of Alabama, they haven’t felt comfortable traveling to see family with a newborn, but Ebony’s mother came to help out for a month. In addition to that, the family has leaned heavily on support from in-town friends.
“We’ve received a lot of support from friends we have here,” Jonathan says. “And even with the physical distance, our family, friends, and co-workers have been an amazing community of support. They’ve sent us gifts, clothes, diapers, and anything else they could, to support Brandon and us.”
But parenthood hasn’t come without its challenges and funny moments. Jonathan remembers the first time they tried to give Brandon a bath.
“I had just changed his diaper and was walking him to the tub, and as soon as I took his diaper off for the bath, he did his ‘baby business’ all over me—one and two. The initial shock was followed by maybe the biggest laugh I’ve ever had,” Jonathan recounts.
When asked if he has any advice, Jonathan shares what he learned throughout the process.
“For dads, be prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure your partner feels supported. She’s going to go through a lot of changes, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Listen closely to what she needs at that moment. When the baby comes, keep that attentiveness and care going, for her and the baby. Every time I felt tired, I thought of what my wife was going through, and my perspective immediately changed for the better.”