Sparta parents navigate pandemic while welcoming newborn child to family

Health experts say there are ways for parents with newborns to manage stress in midst of a pandemic
Born into a pandemic

SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT) – Parents with a newborn face a lot of unknowns and worries. Add a pandemic on top of it and the stress can take control of their world.

Like the game of go fish, families are fishing for a better hand than the one 2020 dealt. The Peterson family from Sparta is seeing this pandemic for what it’s bought them, time.

“We just did the best we could,” said Katie Peterson, a wife, and mother of three daughters.

Katie and Brent Peterson’s daughters are living this experience too.

“We have two great helpers,” Katie Peterson said.

Their daughters Taylor and Sophia had to go to school online after schools closed throughout the country.

“That was pretty good,” Sophia said. “It was a lot faster than normal school days.”

Two months ago, their family photo added another face.

“She was born on Mother’s Day 5-10-20,” Katie Peterson said. “She was a month early.”

Malia Peterson now owns a spot in the family portrait and the hearts of her parents and sisters. Brent Peterson doesn’t mind the role of a lady’s man.

“They keep me on my toes,” he said. “It’s not bad playing Barbies once in a while. I’m learning.”

Learning is what parents do especially a first-time parent.

“New parents a lot of joy and excitement, and also worry uncertainty, self-doubt even under ideal circumstances,” said Meg Jelen, a clinical therapist at Gundersen Health System.

Katie said ideal is not the word to describe the past five months.

“It’s hard,” she said. It’s a hard time.”

Her pregnancy came with a lot of questions.

“What happens if I were to get COVID-19 and being pregnant and or what’s the effects?” she said.

Loneliness took over in a time she needed her family.

“When we had her the girls weren’t able to come to the hospital to meet Malia which was sad,” she said. “That was hard for me.”

Her husband couldn’t even go to some of her routine appointments.

“Not gonna lie it is hard not being able to go to the ultrasound, but being lucky I got to experience that a few times, new parents that’s got to be pretty stressful,” he said.

Katie Peterson understands the fear new parents are dealing with right now. She works with newborns as a nurse at Gundersen Health System.

“I realize how hard it is,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine.”

Jelen said there’s help for parents who are overwhelmed.

“Circle back to their OB (obstetrician) or their midwife, maybe primary care, physician,” Jelen said.

There are doctors who can talk over video or the phone. She said meeting that person face to face is still possible.

“There are safety precautions in place to help increase the safety in those visits,” she said.

When a woman is already pregnant, Jelen says they don’t need added stress weighing them down.

“That’s normal,” she said. “If people are feeling like that is beyond an amount they can kind of cope with or manage definitely reach out to resources.”

The Petersons say it takes a family to raise a child.

“One day at a time, trial and error, family,” Katie Peterson said. “Teamwork especially,” Brent Peterson added. “You gotta kinda do with what the hand dealt you. Patience is a big one for me.”

This pandemic’s ace is time. It’s helping the Petersons understand what is truly important, the present.

“Being grateful for the things that you have; your health and your family and friends,” Katie Peterson said. “Take it day by day. Rely on each other.”