Andrea, a participant in our Healthy Pregnancy Outreach Program for new and expectant mothers, shares her story of becoming a new mother during a global pandemic and the connections she shared in her weekly HPOP classes.
“In late August last year, I waved to my family who was peering in through a garden window of Squamish Hospital’s maternity ward. I was grateful that my room was on the first floor and that we could share this special moment together – me, my husband, and our new little baby, Stuart, who’d come just a few days early, my parents who had traveled from the Okanagan – and the window screen.
These screens became a third wheel for me over the following months – in the form of a mask, a computer, a window, a counter screen, or a cellphone. As ever-present as they were unwelcome, they have been the only real witness to my life and learnings, my flops and failures, and my moments of sheer joy in becoming a new mother.
A second surprise that August day was that my HPOP friend was there with me – not as a visitor, but because we serendipitously gave birth just hours apart. We connected at HPOP because we were the only two pregnant women in the class – all the other participants already had their babies with them.”
The Healthy Pregnancy Outreach Program (HPOP) is operated by Sea to Sky Community Services. It provides pregnant people, and new parents support to maintain good physical and mental health for parent and child in this time of change and uncertainty. New mothers meet weekly for group discussions and receive gifts such as diapers, multivitamins, vitamin D, and gift cards to local grocery stores.
“And they feed you!
It seems silly, I know, but some days I just dragged myself to HPOP at CenterPoint for the egg sandwiches. But I was always glad when I did. Sometimes I didn’t even realize how much stress and anxiety I was holding inside until I was able to connect with the group and let it out by talking, laughing, and just connecting.”
During the pandemic, Sea to Sky Community Services shifted how it delivered the Healthy Pregnancy Outreach Program. Masking, social distancing, and other safety protocols were introduced (like meeting outside when the weather permits). We also introduced a new drive-through service where mothers can drive, stroll or walk through to pick up some essentials.
“A new Canadian study looking at the mental health of mothers before and after the start of the pandemic has found that our levels of depression and anxiety almost doubled in 2020, shedding more light on the ever-increasing need for these simple touchpoints for mothers going through the loneliness of a pandemic pregnancy.
Today I feel grateful to live in this beautiful part of the world, where we can go outside and get fresh air; I am grateful that we’re making ends meet; I am grateful that my mum was able to visit for a bit – twice; I am grateful we have social media and that my family can see Stuart learn to crawl on Facetime.
But I do know that many new moms in the corridor are struggling. We’re being brave, but it’s been very hard for so many of us. We can really use the help, the acknowledgment, and the camaraderie!
How you can help
Sea to Sky Community Services’ social services help thousands of children, youth, and adults throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor every day. Our work is made possible by the generosity of everyday donors – like you! Donations enable us to keep offering expectant and new mothers support to maintain good physical and mental health and a place to connect with others within their community to not feel so alone in a time of uncertainty and change.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Sea to Sky Community Services today – together, we’re building community.