Celebrating My Son's First Birthday During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nothing about my last pregnancy was normal. Nothing about my youngest son's birth was average. So I suppose it's only fitting that we would celebrate Bastian's first birthday during the coronavirus pandemic.

For those who don't know, Bastian was born with gastroschisis - a hole in his abdomen that allowed his intestines to fall out. You can read more about that here.

There are a lot of unprecedented stressors in today's COVID-19 world. Aside from the cabin fever and boredom (gonna be honest, as a work-from-home and homeschooling mom, I'm used to being at the house all the time, so I'm not struggling with the "trapped" feeling as much as others are) there are heavy, legitimate concerns about safety, health, and finances.

People are losing jobs, families are losing members. There are a lot of jokes about not having enough toilet paper, but there are also people who are honestly not sure how they're going to feed their kids. Even with the social-distancing, the number of people infected - and dying - seems to be skyrocketing. So pouting about the fact that my son won't get to have a traditional first birthday party seems a bit ridiculous.

Having said that, I understand why people are grieving much smaller losses like missing out on prom or graduation ceremonies, birthday parties, and vacations. Our whole way of life is changing, rather abruptly, and there's a shit ton of uncertainty on whether it'll ever fully go back to how it was before. It's natural to be anxious and to mourn these things, because they represent much bigger issues and fears.

Still, if there's one thing I learned from Bastian's journey it's how to focus on the good in really bad circumstances. There was a moment, right before he was born - like, literally, the doctor had just said to me "don't cough or he's going to fall out" - when I burst into tears. My eyes found Chase's and I started blubbering about how I didn't want to do it, I didn't want to give birth, because I knew that once I delivered him, they were going to take him away from me.

And that's exactly what happened, of course. They transported him to the children's hospital across the street and immediately performed his first surgery. I'd had the kid physically attached to me for 37 weeks and suddenly I couldn't even be in the same building with him. It was awful. The next few weeks were pretty terrible, too.

But we got thru it.

Our family got through the emotional stuff. Bastian had the hard part. But he's a little fighter, has been since the moment he existed. And as bummed out as we are about this new obstacle thrown into our path, we'll get past it, too - with a lot of humor along the way.

We make jokes about how our son is so tough he played with his own intestines in the womb (true story - we saw it on the ultrasound). There are pictures of him "shooting a bird" while lying in the hospital bed of the NICU. He was infamous for pulling out his IV. As he's grown over the last year, he's continued to prove himself to be stubborn and inquisitive - as well as downright charming and adorable.

You can get a shirt like his on my Etsy store.

Sure, we could bemoan the fact that there won't be a bunch of friends and relatives in our home, gathered around, watching him open gift and eat his own personal cake. We won't get to take him to an indoor playground like we'd originally planned. The general atmosphere of the whole world right now is somber, not celebratory.

But this kid is worth celebrating, and nothing is gonna stop that for us. We'd rather laugh about the odd circumstances and focus on how much we still have to be grateful for. What an epic story this will be years from now. Nothing about Bastian's life is "normal" and we're okay with that. We're just happy we get to be part of it.

The really cool thing is that we live in a time of super useful technology. Several relatives have generously sent birthday gifts via Amazon. We've got cake mix and tubs of frosting on our shelves. We've got smartphones and Facebook live. We're gonna make the most of what we've been given - because isn't that what life is really about anyway?

Now is a really good time to give toilet paper as a gift...

We have been very open and public about Bastian's journey since before he was even born. You've been with us along the way, sending us your love and good vibes and positive energy, helping us get through all the struggles and fears. When you really think about it, It's only fitting that you get to celebrate this milestone with us, too.

Bastian's having an online birthday bash - and you're invited.


Jennifer Scott Pickett is a freelance writer for hire who specializes in parenting and lifestyle content. She is half of the comedy duo that makes up Salty Mermaid Entertainment based in Atlanta, GA. In her free time -  Wait. She's a mom of three. She doesn't have any free time. Learn more by clicking here.