What it's like being pregnant & planning a funeral during the COVID-19 pandemic

It's widely accepted that three of the worst things to have happen during the COVID-19 pandemic are getting married, having a baby and losing a loved one.

We'll hit two out of three in the trifecta before this quarantine is over.

Nothing about this pandemic is ideal. Who would have thought we'd ever find ourselves here, where we have to stay inside all day for our health, where a trip to the grocery store feels like a foraging expedition, where even my 3-year-old son has to have his own miniature face mask on hand, where we can't visit our friends and loved ones in order to protect those most at risk.

Life is the farthest thing from normal right now, and throwing any major life event into the mix makes everything feel even more out of the ordinary. I feel heartbroken for anyone who has waited their whole life for their wedding day, their "one special day," only to have everything they imagined thrown out the window. I feel immense empathy for anyone who faces giving birth to their child, unsure of whether their spouse or significant other will even be allowed in the room. I feel sorrow for anyone who loses a loved one and can't give honor their life in the way they deserve. And I feel sadness for those facing other challenges and trials that seem insurmountable right now.

When we received Luke's diagnosis in November, we immediately started thinking about and planning what the day of his birth and his funeral would look like. As we've navigated this journey, our plans have changed and evolved.

But then the quarantine came, and everything we planned hit the fan.

So, what's it like being pregnant and planning a funeral during the pandemic?

To put it briefly, it's a roller coaster.

It's thinking you would have your loved ones around you as you face one of the hardest experiences of your life, only to be told that only you and your husband will be allowed in the delivery room.

It's bawling after being told your son might not even be allowed to come to the hospital to meet his little brother — who will either be stillborn or live only a few minutes to a few hours — only to be told "just kidding" a few days later.

It's having telehealth appointments when you're 36 weeks pregnant, not knowing if the next time you see a doctor will be in the delivery room.

It's demanding to have an in-person appointment because it helps ease the anxiety of the unknown, even just a little bit.

It's going to in-person appointments alone, the mask on your face trapping the hot air of your breath against your skin, having your temperature checked three times before you see your doctor.

It's going your whole pregnancy being told you'll be induced, then being told they can't do inductions until you're at least two weeks overdue, and not knowing when to plan to have your family come to take care of your son and be there for support. (And then being told two weeks later, "just kidding, we can do an induction.")

It's knowing that unless by some miracle you get discharged before your baby dies and he gets discharged with you, the only way your parents and your husband's parents — and so many other loved ones — will ever see him in person is in a casket.

It's having no clue what your baby's casket looks like because you couldn't pick it out in person.

It's hoping that that miracle happens and you can take your baby home with you, only to face the unknown of what hospice care will look like.

It's not knowing what your baby's graveside service can look like because between even just your immediate family and your husband's immediate family, you have more than 20 people.

It's realizing how very little control you have.

An image from our most recent ultrasound, showing lots of hair on the back of Luke's head. 

At times, it is extremely bleak.

But out of the worst experiences often come the biggest tender mercies too.

What's it like being pregnant and planning a funeral during the pandemic?

It's finding a funeral home in California and one in Utah that are both kind and generous to handle things either for free or for very little cost.

It's having a funeral director who knows what it's like to bury his own child and can truly empathize.

It's planning end-of-life care for your baby with a palliative care team who doesn't just accept your decision to carry to term, but really understands it.

It's doctors and nurses who don't take no for an answer and keep asking and asking until they get approval for your sons to meet.

It's receiving email after email from social workers at the hospital who go above and beyond their responsibility to help you plan memory-making opportunities for your family.

It's a child-life specialist checking in to see how your 3-year-old son is doing because she's concerned about making sure he's handling everything well.

It's friends who are willing to be on-call at all hours of the day and night in case we need them to watch Jack before our family gets here.

It's a labor and delivery nurse personally coordinating with the organ donation facility and making sure every nurse on her staff knows what to do to help us fulfill our wish of tissue donation, just so we don't have to be the ones to coordinate everything in the midst of our sorrow.

It's family and friends checking in on you, listening when you want to talk about it, but also letting you just feel like a normal person when you want to, too.

It's having time in quarantine for your family to cuddle close, your son giving hugs and kisses to your pregnant belly.

It's realizing that although things aren't how you planned, the things that matter most will still happen.

It's finding comfort in the fact that this is not the end.

It's knowing that after all is said and done, Luke's story will live on through us.


  1. Oh sweet girl and Blake and Jack, Thank you for sharing your feelings of this incredible celestial angel. So often people are afraid to share such tender moments and the love and tenderness you have shared..thank you. Know that besides the flood I created in SLC and the great love I have for you for sharing this that our love and prayers are still with you.

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