Everything was ready for Arion Moore-Smith’s baby shower, set for April 4. The decorations, the caterer, the cake. Even the party favors had been made. At about 100 friends and family, it wasn’t going to be small. Moore-Smith, 29, had endured three miscarriages to get to this place: a healthy pregnancy with a month and a half left before her due date on April 30.
In professional “baby on board” photos taken before, she beams in a fuchsia gown that hugs her full belly and sets off her red-tipped hair. Moore-Smith had fought for the last eight months for a pregnancy that felt in her control — planning for her mother to be there at the birth, along with her husband, and to deliver naturally, without an epidural, working with a new doctor who she felt listened to her concerns, especially as a black woman.
On March 13, Gov. John Bel Edwards banned gatherings of more than 250 people. Five days later, he banned gatherings of more than 50 people.
“And we were like, ‘Oh my God, 50 people, but it’s only the middle of March. Maybe it’ll change by the 4th,” Moore-Smith remembers. “Maybe it’ll, you know, die down.’”
Instead, the coronavirus entered the final weeks of her pregnancy as a new threat, dramatically shifting labor and delivery protocols in hospitals across the state and country, upending expectations and stripping much of the control away from expectant parents and putting it into the hands of hospital officials. Where Moore-Smith once had choices, the virus now dictated much of what would come.
“It really takes the power from you, knowing that all the things that you thought were gonna happen is out the window,” she said.