Sophie Cohen Talks About Having a Baby During COVID-19

It was April 2020 and the height of the global pandemic. Cases of COVID-19 were soaring across the state.

Fraught with stress, knowing that information about the virus was changing constantly, Sophie Cohen, who was due with her third child, knew that this time would be different. She talks about the birth of her third daughter, the added anxiety that came from making decisions when no one knew much about the virus and how different it is raising a newborn during a global health crisis.

You were pregnant when the lockdown came? 

Yes. I was due in April. In March, when the pandemic hit, we heard that the New York hospitals were not allowing spouses in for the delivery. I started to worry I might be alone in the hospital. We began researching home births to see if that was a better option. And, we asked ourselves — if we both go to the hospital, who will watch our older daughters? Is it safe to have anyone in the house? 

So, what happened? 

I was two weeks early and when I went into labor, my husband happened to be at his office – he’s self-employed – picking up a few things. I ended up driving myself to the hospital. It felt like a ghost town. Everyone was quarantining. My husband eventually met me there. Ultimately everything felt normal at the hospital, aside from the full PPE that the healthcare workers were wearing.

I remember I asked my mother to come over to watch our daughters and that only increased my anxiety. At that time, we didn’t have much information about the coronavirus, and I was scared about exposing her.  

You’ve had two children before. How has this experience been different?  

For the first six months, we’ve been mostly at home. This baby has almost no exposure to the outside world. With my other two children, I enrolled them in baby classes at the JCC, I did Hello Baby… I took them to a music class. I’d get together with friends. This time, we did none of that. 

It’s funny, but we had a family portrait taken recently. The minute the photographer came, my baby cried. The photographer told us that she’s been seeing this lately – that these babies aren’t used to seeing new faces. 

Have your parent and in-laws seen her? 

My mom moved in for the first two months to avoid going back and forth. She was the only person aside from us who touched our baby in the beginning. When Quinn was around three or four months old, my in-laws and father held her for the first time, outside, with masks. 

Silver linings? 

Originally, when I got pregnant, I expected my girls to go to camp in the summer and I would have a chance to bond with the baby and relax. With the pandemic, we ended up not sending them. They were home all summer and when school started, they did Virtual Academy at Beth Tfiloh until recently when they started going in-person. I think it has given them time to bond with the baby a different way. They are so happy to have her, to be with her. 

And you? Has it been hard?

I take it one day at a time. I tend to be one of those people who go into a mechanical mode and focus on getting things done. You have to keep it in perspective. People raise children in worse environments. 

Your daughters go to BT. Are you involved in the Jewish community in other ways?

We’ve gotten involved with The Associated, attended some of their events, like the Generosity Gala last February. My husband was supposed to go on The Associated’s Men’s Mission to Israel last March, before it was canceled because of the pandemic. 

How is being part of a Jewish community important to you? 

I feel like being part of a Jewish community brings people together. My husband Richard and I want to instill that sense of a close-knit community in our children and give them a sense of pride in who they are.

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