You Think Covid-19 Rules are Tough?
Try Being Pregnant and Needing to Pee
By Sarah Hirshland
I found out I was pregnant two months into the Covid-19 crisis, and man, oh, man did the universe pick an interesting time to bring a baby into the world. As excited as I am to be carrying my baby girl, I’ve come across unexpected problems.
One thing I was not prepared for with Covid in mind…is simply having to pee.
I am in my second trimester and currently this takes place every 10 to 20 minutes or so.
As a traveling sales person who still does in-person calls, I have urinated in some not so desired places in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and most of the Bay Area. This includes dirt patches behind buildings, bushes on the side of restaurants, a few neighborhood streets, many beaches and parks, and other odd locations. I promise no one’s yards or playgrounds have been compromised — I’m still a lady. Thankfully my joy of camping and squatting has helped me adjust, somewhat.
Why am I doing this?
Because when I try to use bathrooms in establishments, I am turned down. Turned down by rude people, nice people, barriers and “out of service” signs intended to keep everyone out of the restroom. I can’t imagine half of California has a plumbing problem all at once.
When you’re pregnant, having to pee isn’t just something you can try and refrain from for a while, it’s coming downstream no matter what you think or want to do about it. Sharing this information so publicly might seem appalling to a lot of people, even felt uncomfortable sharing it with friends and family at first. But through the pain of it I wanted to share my story. It has come to a point where I am concerned for the well-being of my baby and want to make my pregnancy as comfortable as I can. I’ve thought of ways to maneuver through the shutdown and keep an eye out for Porta Potties and public parks and beaches with open restrooms. I have also considered purchasing a Shewee — a tube and bag kit designed in 1999 for women who can’t find anywhere else to go—and I feel right now I could make a good spokesperson for their marketing campaigns. Here I thought I’d be buying diapers for my baby, and now I am considering what Depends might be like to help me out.
In a world with “out of service” restrooms and bathroom restrictions, it’s literally a wasteland out there for people in need of a bathroom. This includes pregnant women, people who have conditions, children, and more. It’s a matter of danger for all people who need to use a restroom, but for pregnancy it can be a bit more taxing. I have gone through doors when not always permitted, but I make it quick and get out of there just as fast. I would hope that if things don’t open up soon, we can petition for some type of bathroom pass or pregnancy (or medical) leniency program.
To make matters more challenging, I work on the road in sales. The next need for a bathroom for me could take place anywhere. I am more than grateful I have a job during these times, and love what I do. However, being turned down constantly by store clerks and blocked barricades of chairs and tables, I have begun to adopt a form of anxiety to get in my car and get going. The anxiety of having to pee lasts most of the day. When I started getting turned down while very obviously showing, I had a bit of hesitation. I didn’t want to cause a scene or become hostile, and at times I would tightly grasp my legs and walk back to my truck and try the next place.
The truly frustrating part is that each establishment has these rules and protocols set in place, and it seems most employees don’t even understand them, they are just told to say no. This pandemic has set in so much confusion and we are all very misinformed, to the point that we are putting people’s health in harm’s way while trying to prevent harm. This where sympathy and consideration can take a good lead. Everyone is on edge right now, and following regulations has been instilled in us, but it is also our responsibility to do right by others, be mindful of what we can control and to make sure endangerment is the last toll we are willing to take.
Don’t get me wrong, some places will let you use the restrooms, but you have to get good at knowing which chains and which type of place will. Major grocery stores and some gas stations are pretty good about it, but some local stores aren’t as eager to open the restroom doors. Out of the numerous times I have been turned down, there have been some really amazing people through it all who have helped and it really makes a difference. Keeping me and my baby safe is most importance to me, and the big picture is that people and places are really trying to make sure we don’t get compromised, but at what cost? Does this take away our compassion?
Another unfortunate aspect of the Covid pregnancy experience are the moments and memories that feel taken from you and your partner. It may be designated to the states that have increasing cases, but your partner cannot go to ultrasounds with you, or any other appointment for that matter. My boyfriend and I have done a couple Zoom meetings, but it’s usually me giving him the details at home. If you want to tour or see the part of the hospital where you will be giving birth, you can’t. You can take a virtual tour, but there aren’t many open spots.
As far as delivery goes, you can only have one person in the room with you. Either your partner, spouse, mother, father, friend, Doula etc. The family in the waiting room with flowers and cheers, is something of the past. We must make do with what we can to ensure these moments are still cherished and celebrated.
Once your ultrasound is over, you have a quick meeting with your doctor via Zoom to go over the details or concerns.
To all the soon to be moms out there, make sure to ask, ask, and ask questions. Some doctors, like the grocery store clerk, give off the impression they are too busy and really only want to give you more time if there’s something alarming in the results. I am a first-time mother, and these meetings and moments mean a lot to me. I am hanging on to anything I can get. I don’t believe that any doctor is trying to brush people off or show they are not diligent, but they have so much on their minds and so much going on, that if new moms aren’t persistent in getting information or asking questions, they won’t get answers. We need to be strong and willing to get what we need from the healthcare system and remind our doctors that we still hope to have a significant experience. I am not a high maintenance woman, I am a first time mom who’s trying to soak it all in. This is just my personal experience, but it has taught me a lot about the drastic times I am bringing my child into. We are overjoyed and thankful to have any doctors or any help at all, it’s merely that the experience now lacks a lot of personal care and excitement that people may have received in the past during the most wondrous time of their lives.
Since the pandemic began, I have seen some of the worst treatment in customer care. It’s understandable given these people are so overworked, still some have ignored the out-of-order signs and been humane about my circumstances. It’s not easy to predict where we will go from here, but we must still remember to treat each other with kindness and love through the hard times and confusion of it all. That’s what will take us out of this crazy mess, to be there for one another in the moment, no matter how big or small.