When Brian Murphy imagined meeting his newborn daughter the first time, he did not envision himself wearing a mask. However, the COVID-19 pandemic made this a reality for not only the Murphy family but for people across the globe.
The process of bringing a child into the world is now full of new safety precautions and uncertainties that the Murphy family had to face this past May, when Melanie Murphy gave birth to their daughter, Ramona Blake.
Instead of the entire family being able to visit, Melanie Murphy was only allowed to have one visitor at the hospital: Brian Murphy. While a baby being born is typically an event that brings entire families together, the new reality was something much more solitary.
Once they arrived at the hospital, their temperatures were checked, and they were questioned about whether or not they had come into contact with anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. During her time at the hospital, Melanie Murphy was instructed to stay in her room to lower the risk of her getting sick. To the Murphys’ relief, the hospital staff and faculty did not appear to be overly stressed, even with what was going on around them.
“Once we were in there with the nurses and the doctor, it felt as if it was normal,” Melanie Murphy said. “We don’t know what it [would feel] like without the pandemic, but it felt normal and it felt safe [to us].”
The Murphys were also very comfortable in their hospital rooms, and they felt safe using the amenities there. The hospital was working to make people feel relaxed and safe.
“It was a lot calmer than I expected,” Melanie Murphy said. “I didn’t know if I expected beeping and noises and yelling, but the nurses and doctors did a great job of the delivery.”
Even though she was worried about having the baby, the birth went smoothly, and on May 6 at 5:08 p.m., Murphy was finally able to meet her daughter, Ramona Blake Murphy, whom they call Blake.
Soon after, Brian Murphy was able to meet her as well, but not in the way he imagined.
“The first picture of all of us, I had a mask on and I was so excited that it wasn’t until afterwards I was like, oh, I should probably show my daughter my face,” he said.
In this new and unknown environment, having a baby is a vastly different process, in good ways and bad ones.
When the couple and their newborn daughter finally got home, they realized how unprepared the virus left them.
“I had to buy more things online than I thought I would have, because we couldn’t have baby showers,” Melanie Murphy said.
Fortunately, they were able to get what they needed, and their time at home turned out to be very special. The Murphys also said they have learned a lot about the challenges of parenting and making sacrifices for Blake.
“[There are times when] you’re really tired and she’s not, or she needs to eat still or she needs a diaper change and the only thing you want to do is lay down,” Melanie Murphy said.
Even though they feel these obstacles have been tough, their faith has been like an anchor to them during these unfamiliar times.
“Every step of the way, especially with this, the Lord equips us with what we need for that moment.”
The Murphys’ experiences of caring for Blake together have also given them a new respect for single parenting.
“I felt like I gained a very strong respect for single parents. I don’t know how people do it on their own,” said Melanie Murphy.
In contrast to the unfamiliar challenge these new parents faced, they were appreciative of the quality time they got to create a special bond with their daughter.
“[The quarantine] also provided us with a good time, just the three of us, as we’ve gotten to know her,” Melanie Murphy said. Even though quarantine has brought unfamiliar challenges for new parents, it has also allowed special relationships to develop.
Their circumstances will continue to affect their relationship with Blake in the future, but in a positive way. The Murphys are excited to tell her the story of her being born in the midst of a pandemic, and later being able to take her places will seem even more special.
“I can’t wait to tell Blake about all the time she was born, just how crazy it was and how special she was and how much of a bright light she was,” Brian Murphy said. “I think if anything, it’ll give us more appreciation for going and taking her to a ballgame or… taking her to a concert one day.”
This family is an example of how amidst the uncertainties of COVID-19 there are ways to find joy through the birth of their child and God.