You were born a little after midnight. I heard you cry and saw your sweet little body for a few seconds before they whisked you away to check your vitals. I couldn’t see you very well, but your Dad acted as a liaison between the two of us, simultaneously checking on both of his girls to make sure we were okay. A few minutes later, they gave you to me. The three of us sat together for a while, your dad and I completely enthralled with everything about you and every little movement you made.

Your baby book would later ask me to record who was in the waiting room and who came to visit us at the hospital. I always thought I would run out of room on the lines for those questions with all of our family and friends, but life didn’t happen that way.

You were born in the year 2020. The year of Covid-19. The year the world shut down, masks became an everyday accessory and toilet paper was a hot commodity. I knew the birth of our firstborn would be an event to remember - I didn’t know it would be like this.

Upon our arrival at the hospital, we beeped into a locked building that we had never been in before - all tours of maternity wards had been canceled - and tried to follow the signs to the labor and delivery wing. We got a little lost on the way, laughing behind our masks, but eventually found the check-in desk where they took our temperatures. Because I was getting induced, I had already taken a Covid test per hospital policy and received negative results, but temperature checks and masks were still mandatory. They gave your dad a “support person” wristband, indicating that he was the one and only person allowed with me during my stay at the hospital. I was so grateful he was able to be there with me - just a few months prior, some hospitals restricted everyone, even spouses, from being at the hospital so as to lower the risk of transmission. It was hard not having him at any prior doctor visits, but him not attending the birth would’ve been devastating. We felt very lucky to be there together.

Once in our room, we took off our masks and started getting settled - the anticipation of knowing we would be meeting you soon was building and everything started to feel more real. A few minutes later, a nurse came in to get my vitals - she informed us that we had to wear our masks anytime any hospital staff was in the room. I was confused - I had tested negative - but from that point on, we kept our masks hanging from our ears for easy access whenever a nurse would come in.

To pass the time, we played games, watched TV, and talked about you. We tried to take a walk in the hallway but weren’t allowed to because of Covid restrictions, so instead we paced our little hospital room trying to urge you to come to meet us soon.

All of our friends and family were glued to their phones with our updates, ultimately waiting for that glorious text announcing your arrival. Your dad texted our immediate families with the latest information, which they distributed to a slew of other relatives and loved ones.

In the last hours, I was allowed to keep my mask off - I’m not sure if that was actual hospital policy or just the nurses understanding how much harder it would be to deliver a baby while wearing a mask. I longed to see the emotion in your dad’s face as he encouraged me behind his mask, but was grateful we were at least able to make eye contact. We had the best nurses - Holly, Liz, and Sarah - but I’ll never be able to pick them out of a crowd because they were wearing their masks and protective gear the whole time. When you were finally here, I was the first unmasked person you saw. It took a while for the nurses to leave the room after you were born, so your dad would carry you over to another part of the room where he could pull down his mask so you could see him too. For the first few days of your life, it was just me, Dad, and the masked nurses - and all of your family on FaceTime.

My sweet girl, all four of your grandparents would’ve given anything to be there to greet you as soon as you were born. You are the first grandchild on one side of the family and the first granddaughter on the other side - needless to say, everyone was anxious to meet you. When we realized that our postpartum suite window looked out to the parking garage, your local grandparents drove to the hospital parking garage and we introduced you Simba-style through the window. Per our pediatrician’s recommendation, they had been quarantining for two weeks prior to your arrival so they could hold you when we went home. Your grandparents who live on the other side of the country were originally planning on flying out as soon as you were born; however, because of Covid travel concerns, we aren’t sure when they’ll be able to come to visit - but they’ve said they’ll buy tickets as soon as we give them the dates.

Even though the birth experience and your first few weeks of life were much different than we expected them to be, there are a few things that even Covid couldn’t stop. The kindness of the nurses as they led us through the birth of our first child. The thoughtfulness of our family members and friends, local and on the other side of the country, who dropped off meals and had meals delivered to us. The excitement of friends and family meeting you through windows, from 10 feet away, behind masks, and over video chats. The love of everyone who endured this experience with us - both near and far - and the love in our home as a little family of three. And most of all, the light of a new life - you.

You were born in a pandemic. In a year where the world felt darker, emptier and lonelier than ever before. But in bad times, there was still good. And part of that “good” was you.

This pandemic will one day pass but the world will face new challenges. My sweet girl, always remember to look for the good. And if it’s hard to find it elsewhere, remember that you can be the good the world needs, after all, you were born a light in the darkness.