Darcy and Evan fell pregnant when the world felt normal. There wasn't even a whisper of COVID19 when they received news that would change their lives forever - they were having a baby.
The young couple has been living in Koh Phangan, a remote island in the Gulf of Thailand. Darcy works on the island as a school teacher and Evan in hotel management. They're an easy-going, open-minded couple who find their peace soaking up island sun and cruising through paradise on their motorbike.
They hadn't planned the pregnancy. It's in their nature to flow with the wind...but no one could have prepared them for the gust sweeping their way.
This is their story of being pregnant in isolation, going through labor in lockdown, and learning to be new parents in a global pandemic.
Pandemic, Pregnancy & Positivity
The pregnant couple booked flights to Darcy's home country, England, to be close to family, support, and give birth in a western hospital.
Then COVID19 hit.
Thailand was fast to react. Borders quickly closed and mass flight cancelations stranded foreigners like Evan and Darcy and suddenly an already anxious time mounted heavy on the pair.
The pandemic worsened. Even domestic travel screeched to a halt and soon the couple realized they would be giving birth while stranded on a remote island.
This is when the couple switched their mindsets.
Darcy said the turn of events was a blessing in disguise.
"We believe everything happens for a reason and everything happening this way worked out better for us," she said as Evan plays with three-month-year-old Kai in the background.
Their most important tool while being pregnant in a pandemic was positive outlooks.
"Once we knew we were stranded in Thailand, we switched our mindsets and became so positive about the whole situation."
"We'd say: 'Yes! We can do it here on this island.' And it worked out better than we could ever have imagined."
Deciding to home birth
While there are hospitals on the island, the pair began to research home births.
They found inspiration from a well-known spiritual midwife, Ina May Gaskin, who Darcy says helped her to understand the spiritual connection of a home birth.
"Just look at the situation with COVID in England. If I was in a hospital there, I would be so scared and it could have negatively impacted the birthing experience," Darcy explains.
"But instead, having it here on a remote island in Thailand... it's the best."
However, the home birth they envisioned required a new home.
And they found the ideal treehouse home for them.
"We wanted a nest, we're free birds, and I wanted somewhere special to give birth. And we found the perfect place in the mountains," Darcy says.
"We lived in a treehouse, watching monkeys swing around the jungle every morning. We even had snakes, but luckily none got too close. Honestly, it was just magical."
Preparing for pregnancy in isolation
Thailand enforced strict social isolation, curfews and quarantine measures in their efforts to contain the coronavirus.
And so the pregnant pair prepared for pregnancy alone in their jungle home away from friends and family.
It was in their nest that the couple approached the pregnancy from a spiritual perspective. They practiced hypnotherapy, which is a form of alternative medicine that uses hypnosis to guide a person's consciousness and help with positivity, concentration, and focus.
"Hypnotherapy really guided me through it," Darcy says. "I also chanted, created a shrine which had artwork where I could visualize my birth."
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Labor in lockdown
While the couple prepared their minds for the birth of Kai, the baby had his own plans and decided to come three weeks early.
It was late when Darcy felt her first contractions.
"We thought they were just cramps. I didn't realize I was going into labor," she says.
The couple had the support of a doula, but didn't have any professional medical support.
"I didn't have a midwife or anyone medically trained, I had my Doula who I trusted and I knew my body was ready for this," she says.
Labor lasted 24 hours with just Darcy, Evan and their Doula present.
Darcy moved to water where Evan held her in different positions to ease Kai into the world.
"Evan was my support through this. In Thai hospitals, they don't let the fathers come into the room, but our baby is both me and him, so I couldn't imagine not having him there with me, experiencing this together," Darcy says.
"I didn't want a lot of people around me, I was in my headspace and I just wanted to be focused on me. Having too many people in that room would have distracted me from my potential."
After a night and day of labor, Kai was born at 6pm, May 11.
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New parents in paradise
Three months later and the family is still locked down in Thailand, despite borders beginning to reopen.
However, as the adrenaline of the pregnancy wears off, Evan and Darcy are realizing the importance of post-pregnancy support.
"During and right after the birth we felt so supported and fine, but it wasn't until a couple of months later when we started to feel more alone and craved more support," Darcy says.
"We've started to wish we had someone to watch Kai while we cook or eat together or basic little things.
"Kai is now three months and we've reached the conclusion that we can't do this alone."
Now, the family is planning to head to the States to be close to Evan's family.
Kai's birth certificate is in Thai and the process to get an English certificate in Thailand takes time.
"Once we get the certificate, we're going to leave the island," Darcy says.
"We're not going to stop traveling, but we're just doing what's best for Kai right now, not just what's best for us."
Advice for those experiencing a pandemic pregnancy
Experiencing a pandemic pregnancy can be an extremely scary time. However, Evan and Darcy say remaining calm and positive will turn it into one of the greatest moments of your life.
"The most important thing is to stay positive. This is natural, and home births are completely natural. What's more important is you get your mind in the right place," she says.
While being new parents alone in Thailand has its challenges, they say they haven't encountered any major issues.
"Of course, at home we would have gotten a crib and a lot of other things, but right now we don't need any of that," she says.
"Some family members sent gifts in the mail like clothing and a swaddle, but supermarkets here are open so we're able to get the essentials."
"There's nothing we really need for a newborn, just love, and support, even over a zoom call from home is an amazing feeling."
But for now, the little family will head to America for much-deserved support and to take a breather.
"After that, when Kai's a little older, we'll carry on our adventures."
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