Care and Feeding

I’m Pregnant. Is It Insane to Break Quarantine Just to See My Parents Right Now?

I know it’s safest to keep things virtual, but I miss my family so much it hurts, and it seems unlikely I’ll get another chance to see them anytime soon.

A pregnant woman sitting cross-legged, hands placed on her belly.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by ASIFE/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

I live in Brooklyn, New York, and am due with my first baby in early July. Though we’re blessed to be able to work from home, it has been challenging to be in lockdown for so much of the pregnancy. Not being able to see our families, who live about two hours away in another state, has been particularly saddening. We are planning a socially distant baby shower at the end of May. I know it’s safest to keep things virtual, but I miss my family so much it hurts. Would it be insane to make the two-hour drive to see just our parents and siblings for a small get-together?

I know in theory that staying masked and at a distance with a small group is OK, but other concerns like rest stops, the weather, as well as sleeping and bathroom arrangements, have made it hard to wrap our head around the risks of such a trip. Our parents are in their 60s and in relatively good health, but I have to see my high-risk doctor weekly, so I can’t fully quarantine before the day.

If I can’t visit in late May, it seems unlikely I’ll get another chance anytime soon. I’m also agonizing over not being able to introduce the baby to his (all first-time!) grandparents and family when July comes around, as it seems doubtful we’ll be able to host visitors. So far, my doctor has just been saying to “wait and see.” She may provide a more definitive ruling soon, but I was hoping for your perspective too. Is it possible to get the connection, not to mention the support that I crave so desperately during late-stage pregnancy and the baby’s first months, or do I need to see this through in isolation indefinitely?

—Missing Mom and Dad

Dear MMaD,

I’m so sorry that you’re in this situation. I know what it feels like to be pregnant in Brooklyn and far away from my loved ones under “normal” circumstances, so I can only imagine how tough it has to be right now. However, I think you already know the answer to this question.

You are seeing a “high-risk” doctor weekly, which means that you are not only unable to fully shelter in place, but that you very well may be going to a medical facility or hospital that has a high volume of people traveling in and out on a regular basis. Your parents are in their 60s, which means that their risk levels are higher than most members of the population. You’re having a baby, and despite early reports that children were in little danger of contracting COVID-19, it has been discovered in infants as young as 6 months old.

Consider other ways to remain connected to your family on a regular basis during this last trimester and the early months of your child’s life: scheduled video chats, a shared family photo album with daily bump (and, later, baby) pics, etc. Do not put your loved ones—most especially a newborn—at risk. This sucks, big time, for all of us, but your eventual physical reunion with your parents will be a beautiful and joyous occasion, one that isn’t worth compromising because it simply feels too hard to wait. Sending you all the best and wishing you a great delivery.

—Jamilah