Pregnant in a Pandemic

On a crisp Saturday in September 2019, Cole and Stephanie Schlauderaff received the wonderful news they had been hoping for. After eight years of marriage, Steph was pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Originally from Glencoe, Cole and Steph met in high school and have been inseparable ever since. This connection continued throughout Steph’s pregnancy. Cole didn’t miss an appointment. As a Ridgeview employee, Cole could quickly cross the street to attend doctor appointments at Western OB/GYN, a Division of Ridgeview Clinics.

“Overall, I enjoyed my pregnancy,” said Steph. “I didn’t have morning sickness, and it was smooth sailing until we got to the end.”

As a first-time mom, Steph was ready to start celebrating with family, friends and coworkers as she entered into her third trimester. But, news of COVID-19 were just starting to surface.

It didn’t take long to realize this pandemic was going to hit home fast. “I began questioning, ‘What does this mean not only for us, but if I get it? What does this mean for the fetus? What does this mean for newborns?’” asked Steph.

Doctor appointments changed rapidly for Cole and Steph. In-person appointments with Rebecca Baudoin, M.D. were moved to telehealth visits.

Beginning at week 36, Steph went into the clinic for weekly checkups, but Cole could no longer be by Steph’s side during this exciting, yet anxious time.“ Steph would call Cole during the appointment so he could listen in. “Thankfully, technology allowed him to still be there even though he wasn’t there in person,” said Steph.

Cole missed being with Steph during these important appointments. “These visits are already a little bit scary because there’s always that moment before you hear the heartbeat where you are a little bit nervous if the baby is going to be okay.”

Steph’s biggest fear was having to go through her first delivery without Cole. “This is my first child. How am I going to do this alone? What if something happens and I’m alone?” said Steph. “There was a fear of the unknown of the overall situation,” said Cole. “How is this going to impact my wife and my child?”

Their uncertainties led to important and meaningful conversations with her health care team. They were quick to explain how important it is to have support during delivery, for you and us. Dr. Baudoin reassured me by saying ‘we are going to be here to support you.’” said Steph.

On May 21, 2020, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and after 16.5 hours of labor, Mason entered the world. Throughout the experience, Cole was right by Steph’s side. Because it was such a long delivery, Steph and Cole also experienced many members of the health care team.

“Every time a nurse changed over, we wanted them to stay with us,” said Steph. “Then another one would come in who was just as good as the last. Every person we encountered at Ridgeview was exactly the right person at the right moment.

Steph and Cole began navigating a new normal with a baby in the midst of a pandemic. “We had so many plans for our parents, who are first-time grandparents, to come to the hospital, help out during maternity leave and enjoy all these first moments,” said Steph. “That didn’t happen.” But, the special bond between Cole and Steph was important in getting through this challenging time. “We relied on each other a ton, and we spent so
much time as a family.”

Cole continues to work remotely and enjoys being so involved with his family throughout the day. “Being able to work from home and see Steph and Mason is a blessing. It’s a welcome change.”

“In this time, everything was so unknown and everything was changing quickly,” said Steph. “In that moment when you become parents, nothing else matters. We brought a super exciting thing into our life at a moment when everything else was melancholy. Mason is a burst of light during a time that has been difficult for everyone."

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