Written Story by Oluwatosin Oginni

Impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on family connection: Community Connection and Isolation 

The experiences and impacts of COVID-19 pandemic are ones that I will not forget very quickly.  This is because it has really changed my perspectives about the importance of communal living  and the support that comes from the community, which we often take for granted.  My wife became pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic period and as a result, we were  confined to stay at home. Being our first time of been pregnant, there were many things we did not  know about pregnancy that we could have learned based on meeting people daily. Two  inexperienced people living together all day every day, not having anywhere to go, really pushed  the boundaries for us as my wife’s mood swings were changing due to the baby’s growth and I  was the outlet for her to vent her frustration. So, I learnt to become very patient and calm to  understand that many things were going on with her which were beyond her control.  Another experience I could not forget easily was having to decide on whether my pregnant wife  should get the COVID-19 injection. This was a scary decision as there were no pieces of medical  evidence to prove if the injection will impact the unborn baby. Given that I was responsible for grocery shopping, which in turn means I will be interacting with people, I was both at risk of  contracting the virus and bringing it home to my wife. So, the decision we made was for me to get  vaccinated so I can protect myself and in so doing protect my wife and the unborn baby. My wife  ended up getting vaccinated later after the baby’s arrival.

The saddest part of my COVID-19 experience was when my wife gave birth to our baby, and we  couldn’t get her mom to come over to assist her with the newborn as well as help her with the fresh  wounds from her Caesar Section delivery. It was a bittersweet experience for us. On one hand, we  were happy that we have a new baby joining the family, and on the other hand, we had to tend to  my wife’s wounds as well as cater for the baby. How do we bathe the baby? The baby was so tiny  and fragile. Even though we were taught how to bathe him at the hospital, it flew over our heads  when we got home and were faced with that responsibility. This would have been easy with the  help of grandma. Both lo and behold, she was denied visa multiple times. This was when it dawned  on me that often time, we take community for granted. At this moment, we needed help, while  people may be willing to help, they were afraid of contracting COVID-19 as well as not to transmit the same to other people. However, we were able to go through all these experiences unscathed as  we now relied on the use of video calling for guidance from grandma.

Furthermore, a more painful part of the covid-19 pandemic was the loss of my dear mum. She took  ill during the period of our pregnancy, and we feared taking her to the hospital due to the higher  chances of contracting the virus at the hospital, which may end up exacerbating the situation, given  that she was in her sixties and older people in that age range were highly susceptible to COVID-19. The news of her death broke me to the core. She was very dear to me, and I had wanted her  not only to see my child but to hold him in her hands. I never got that opportunity. I remember  holding the baby in my hands in the labor room and breaking down in tears because my mum was  not alive to see my child. That moment is still very vivid in my memory, and it is so sacred to me  that I will not forget it anytime soon.

COVID-19 pandemic led to so many restrictions which I believe were anti-human/anti-communal  living. It really showed that human beings were not meant to live in isolation. We are built to live  together as a community, to love one another and enjoy the assistance of other people. My  experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic were not so pleasant. While I do not always want to  overtly dwell on those experiences, this storytelling project has given me the opportunity to reflect  on those experiences and how I have been impacted as well as how it has shaped my priorities in  life.