An expectant mom of twins navigates life and pregnancy in the time of COVID-19
Jaclyn Bush is experiencing a spring and summer that would be life-changing by anyone’s standards. She’s expecting twin boys. She has plans to marry her longtime partner, Garett Ball. And, she and Ball are planning a move from north Reno to Carson City to be closer to their jobs.
When the coronavirus restrictions hit with full force in mid-March, it sent Bush into uncertainty she didn’t expect—with the added concern of continuing the needed, extensive health care that is essential to all expectant mothers.
Even with the added stress and need for caution beyond her own health, though, Bush has remained optimistic and is still eagerly anticipating “the big day.”
“This is my first pregnancy, and probably my only pregnancy, and it’s so sad that I don’t get to experience things like most moms would,” Bush said. “I’m still excited and everything, but everything is so different from what I was expecting.”
On the front lines of care
Bush said it was hard to say if she feels like it’s been a normal pregnancy as far as her health is concerned, especially since she’s having twins for her first one. “I think my first trimester was pretty brutal, throwing up constantly, but other than that I’ve felt OK—just tired,” she said.
But there’s one other added stressor for Bush, although she said it’s actually been a source of safety and stability for her: her job as a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center. As with most hospitals, Carson Tahoe has dedicated areas for care of COVID patients to ensure the proper isolation is taking place.
“We’ve had only a few COVID patients, nothing crazy so far,” Bush said. “I have wonderful co-workers and charge nurses that have been very aware of what’s going on, and they try not to put me with COVID patients. It’s only if this surge is crazy, or if we end up even having a surge, where that might happen. I took an oath to care for every patient. And, I do have PPE, so I feel safe if it comes to that.”
Bush’s schedule is typical of an ICU nurse: several 12-hour shifts in a row with dedicated days off in between. “I’ve been trying to work three in a row, but lately it’s been more like two and then a day off,” she said. “That’s better for me anyway, because I’m so tired all the time.”
As far as care for Bush and the twins is concerned, that has gone well. She praised her midwife and her doctor, Earle Oki, for the work they’ve done. If there’s a negative, it’s the physical distancing required for health care.
“Now, Garett can’t even be at the ultrasound appointments with me,” Bush said. “The only think that I’m kind of worried about, that I don’t want to think about, is if they don’t allow even one person in during labor or coming up to the [Labor and Delivery Unit]. I read about that happening in New York, and that’s not a possibility I would have foreseen. It would really suck. That, and if they don’t allow other visitors to come and see us at the hospital. With it being my first pregnancy, it’s sad, although I’m still very happy about being pregnant.”
A growing family
Bush spoke with the RN&R at about 25 weeks into her pregnancy. Her and Ball’s twin boys have names as well: Ethan and Carter.
“With twins, 40 weeks to full term would be July 27, but I will probably give birth to these guys 35 or 36 weeks in,” she said. “So, late June, early July is what we’re really expecting.”
Bush, age 28, and Ball, age 31, had a reaction that’s pretty common to young first-time parents.
“We were kind of like, ‘Oh, shit,’” Bush said with a big laugh. “But, it wasn’t in a bad way or anything. We were like … ‘OK.’ It was that initial shock, which we had again in a way when we found out we were having twins about 12 weeks along.”
“Even up to that point, too, it was like, ‘This is all pretty crazy,’” Ball said. “We took your pregnancy test on Thanksgiving Day. It was definitely an interesting Thanksgiving.”
“Yeah, I was super nauseous and not eating anything,” Bush added.
One aspect of their lives that had to be regrettably postponed was their wedding day. It was set for April 11, but the Carson City Marriage Department is closed.
“My parents and Garett’s uncle and grandparents were all coming into town for it,” Bush said. “We were going to have a courthouse wedding, but we were going to shoot some pictures and then have a nice dinner with everyone. We were gung ho about it and really excited.”
“It was just a bummer,” Ball said. “April 11 was our fifth anniversary of the first night we hung out, which is why we picked that date.”
“Really, you just can’t control it,” Bush said.
For Ball’s role, he said that he’s trying to remain as positive and supportive as he can. “If anything, it’s kind of beefed up my guard and natural instincts to be protective of her and do whatever I can to make things better,” he said. “But, really, I am just a dumb guy. I’m just trying to be positive but not unrealistic about things.”
As far as being out in public goes, Bush is steering clear of extra visits or trips.
“We have cloth masks, and I’m a nurse so I’m continuously washing my hands anyway,” she said. “We either do grocery pickup, or Garett goes and buys them. I just am trying to stay away from people when I can.”
Relatives and friends have done their best to support Bush and keep some of the usual birth traditions alive. This includes a social distancing baby shower that a friend is hosting in May. As part of it, guests can drive by and drop off gifts, and Bush and Ball will open the gifts within a safe distance in the driveway while their guests watch.
“Obviously, it’s not going to feel the same, but we are just trying to do whatever we can, without coming into direct contact,” Bush said.
At least the sale of the home went relatively smoothly. The couple plans to move to Carson City around the end of April and officially closed on the sale of their north Reno home last week. Bush said that finishing up the move is stressful, but essential—like much of what she’s been enduring these past few months.
“I’m just trying to keep in mind that we are doing this right now for the babies that are coming soon,” Bush said. “This is what is keeping me going, once we’re all done with the house, then we are just getting ready for the arrival.”