Weddings and babies and pandemics, oh my! Couples change plans and navigate through the happiest of times

June 2020

As it turns out, planning a wedding or giving birth to a brand new human during a pandemic is about as surreal, confusing, and stressful as you would expect. I spoke with two soon-to-be brides about how COVID-19 has stalled or otherwise impacted their weddings, and to one new mom about what giving birth and bringing home a newborn is like during this time of social distancing.
Molly Dushnicky, a Pediatric Resident Physician at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, was planning her wedding with her partner Tim Wright for June 20, 2020 at the Chanterelle here in the city. She is from Thunder Bay and wanted to have the wedding at home, close to family and hometown friends. Their wedding will now take place over a year from now, on July 24, 2021 at the same venue.

“We postponed our wedding, officially, on April 20, 2020,” explains Molly. “We spent a long time early on debating whether or not we should.”

They made the final decision exactly two months before the wedding.

“Tim and I talked about having something small, or doing a courthouse/virtual ceremony and having a party next year, but decided against this. Celebrating with everyone, being able to hug our friends and family, these things are the most important parts to us so that’s why we decided to postpone the whole wedding.”

The couple also took the social distancing rules surrounding the pandemic seriously.

“We took the time to think about the implications, and when we stepped back, the last thing we wanted was for people to get sick because of our wedding, or even for anyone to feel uncomfortable being there. These factors have helped us to be okay with the decision.”

Molly has been more stressed out than Tim because, as she tells me, he realized earlier than she did that the wedding simply could not happen in June of this year.

“I think he’s coped better because of that. I’ve also been doing most of the coordinating, so that’s made it more overwhelming. It’s been hard enough trying to plan a wedding without being in the city, and this definitely has not made it any easier.”

Molly’s mom has been a huge help to her and Tim throughout the planning and the process of postponing.

The couple sent out postponement cards via email, and beforehand Molly had worried that guests would be frustrated or mad. That proved not to be the case.

“The moment our cards went out, we received countless emails and texts of love and support and it made me feel a lot better. It’s still sad when I think about it, though. We spent so much time and effort planning for this one day and now we have to wait another year. Focusing on the fact that it was the best decision for everyone makes things easier,” says Molly.

She adds that as someone who works in healthcare, she is “so proud of how Canadians have handled this global pandemic” and that as we go forward with places beginning to re-open, she hopes “that everyone remembers the importance of continuing to be safe, to protect our loved ones and our community.”

Tessa Posthumus has also been struggling with the impossibility of a June wedding. She and her fiancé Jon Lafave live and work in Thunder Bay and were planning to be married on June 27, 2020 with their reception taking place at the Fort William Country Club.

Now, she and Jon have decided to postpone the reception to next summer, but still have their ceremony in June. The number of people in attendance will depend on the amount of people that are allowed to gather by the end of June.

Tessa says the process has been difficult, but she and Jon have accepted that their wedding will have to look a little different.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, I was stressed out and pretty upset. If I had known this would happen, I would have pushed the date or I would’ve rushed to have the wedding. As of right now, I am going with the flow and I am happy I still get to marry the man who is to be my husband on our wedding day,” she says. “I did not think this is what my ‘big day’ would look like, but it will be a story to tell and I get to wear my dress twice!”

Fortunately, she has not had a tough time changing details and working with vendors. She says that everyone who she was working with has been very understanding and helpful considering the situation.

Michelle Bizjak and Will McQuaker became first time parents to a baby boy in April, mid-pandemic.

As per the new pandemic protocols put in place during the time their baby was born, Will was allowed to stay in the hospital room only for the birth. He had to leave six hours after.

“Leading up to the birth of Julian I was in a constant state of worry about what would go on at the hospital,” says Michelle. “Would my husband be allowed to attend the birth? What if we get COVID-19 while at the hospital? What if I get COVID-19 before I give birth and have to be separated from my baby when he is born?”

Will was unable to join Michelle immediately in the Labour and Delivery ward – he had to wait until she was officially admitted which took two hours. Michelle tells me that would have helped her to have him in there with her as she was feeling pretty anxious.

“Once Julian was born, I remember looking at the clock and thinking that my husband would have to leave soon. That was extremely hard on me. With hormones already raging, I spent the next day alone and in tears. The nurses were busy taking care of all the moms and babies, and there really were no ‘extra’ nurses to play the role of my husband. I was also unable to shower until I got home. The time after the birth was pretty hard for me. It was lonely and sad, which was frustrating because if we were not in the midst of a pandemic, Will would be there and it more likely would be one of the happiest times of our lives.”

Once she was able to go home, it was a relief, but being at home has come with a new set of pandemic-imposed barriers.

“Julian met his grandparents through a window first. He met his aunts and uncles through a window. And for the foreseeable future, all of his visitors will meet him through a window. I would love to show him off and introduce him to the people I love, but that’s just not the reality right now, and who knows when it will be,” says Michelle.

“But,” she adds, “when he grows up, we can tell him about how he was born in the midst of a global pandemic. Definitely makes for an interesting story!”

Cassandra Blair has a Masters of Arts in English Literature and is a regular contributor to Bayview.

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