Germany: “Corona” babies?!

The Association of Large Families in Germany (KRFD) is taking International Children’s Day on June 1, 2022 as an opportunity to draw attention to the figures published by the Federal Statistical Office at the end of April. Particularly noteworthy: mothers throughout Germany were more likely to have a third child in the last year. The KRFD went on a search and published the stories of four families that are directly related to “Corona” and “Babies”.

Their names are Lynette, Constantin, Cornelius and Sonja. They are between three weeks and 13 months old. They are four babies born into the Covid-19 pandemic, who have since enriched life in their families and who are fortunate enough to be showered with lots of love, warmth and cuddles by their siblings right from the start. These babies are growing up with a “new normal.” However, their parents, especially the mothers, have had their own experiences with or through or because of “Corona”. For the KRFD, they compare their pregnancies and births to those before the pandemic.

“We thank all these families for letting us share their experiences and adventures, which are so different. Touch these stories. They show how these families mastered everyday life despite the restrictions and countless new challenges caused by the Corona crisis,” says Dr. Elisabeth Müller, Chairwoman of the Association of Large Families Germany eV “These families are encouraging, because what could be more positive to counteract a global pandemic than the miracle of a birth?”

Lena put off the fear of a possible infection: “For me, the likelihood that my other children would bring something home from daycare and school was greater than that I would keep my distance in the almost empty office with an FFP2 mask infect my tested colleague.” With her fourth child, she also had a new experience with a digital postnatal course – in the midst of all the children at home between the dining table and the sofa.

Steffi only thinks back to the time of birth with horror. She and her family were in quarantine because some family members were ill themselves. She remembers “the gloves and masks in the delivery room, the cold disinfectant everywhere and all the time.” Even after the birth, nobody “came too close” to her and her baby without gloves. And since physical closeness was missing in so many areas in the times of Corona, this is a point that “tore her out of her center”.

For Nadine the pregnancy came as a complete surprise, without me noticing it at first: “I didn’t have any time to listen to my body during the lockdown. You yourself were at the back with your needs and tried as best you could to cope with the homeschooling of the children in addition to your own work. We were busy with everything that Corona brought with it – but not with parenthood again,” she reviews the time.

And Cornelia from Bavaria not only has one “Corona baby”, but three – in every “Corona year” the family has grown by a son. Constantine is still an infant. When he and his brothers are older, they can look forward to a large garden with an adventure playground and their own pool, because instead of going on vacation, everyone lent a hand and “worked hard at home”.

Regarding the term “corona baby”:

The term is colloquial and not a scientific term. In the text here, he describes different possibilities that shed light on the connection between the two words “baby” and “corona”. On the one hand, it refers to babies whose families were in “corona quarantine”. It also refers to the babies of mothers who themselves had contracted the Covid-19 virus and also the babies who themselves tested positive for the virus. On the other hand, the term also includes a time component. In 2020, “Corona” babies were still understood to mean the children that were conceived during the first lockdown, when society was at a standstill. The pandemic is now in its third year and the term “corona babies” has become blurred. It applies to all babies born in our present time,

Regarding the statistics: “Increase in births for third children”

At the end of April 2022, the Federal Statistical Office published new data. They show that in the second Corona year (i.e. 2021) more children were born than since 1997. According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office, around 795,500 children were born in Germany last year. According to the office, the number of births rose by two percent compared to the average for the years 2018 to 2020. February, March, October and November in particular saw an above-average number of births, while the numbers from May to July were slightly below average. And something else is interesting about the survey: the number of births of third children rose by 3.9 percent across Germany. First births increased by 1.2 percent (cf. Destatis) Across Europe, however, the lockdowns and restrictions caused by the pandemic had very different effects on family planning in the countries.

On International Children’s Day:

In the former GDR and other socialist countries, this day was introduced as International Children’s Day. This has been celebrated since 1950. The day was always a big event for all children in the GDR: there were events with congratulations and gifts from the parents. Programs and festivals were organized in many schools and day-care centers. Since reunification in 1990, there have been two children’s days: on June 1st and on September 20th (World Children’s Day). June 1st continues to be celebrated, especially in the eastern German states. In Thuringia, World Children’s Day is a public holiday.

Lynette was born on June 1st, 2021, i.e. today on International Children’s Day. She is the fifth child of Nadine and Thorsten from North Rhine-Westphalia.

“I [mother Nadine] was 44 years old when I found out about the pregnancy. At that time we already had four children and our family planning was actually over due to my age. The pregnancy came as a complete surprise to me. I didn’t notice them at first either. In lockdown, I didn’t have any time to listen to my body. You yourself were at the back with your needs and tried as best you could to cope with the homeschooling of the children in addition to your own work. We’ve been busy with all sorts of things that Corona has brought – but not with re-parenting.

Then came the unexpected news. Questions also arose: Can we do it again? How do we deal with that as a family? How much does that push us to the limit? How old am I if our child is 20? Questions about the financial situation were there, but not superficial; we are both in the middle of the job.

We have decided to become parents again. At Christmas 2020 we told our big children. The eldest is 14, the others 11 and 9 and the youngest is 8 years old. To be honest, at first the children were not enthusiastic about our “good news”. The lockdown has not only brought us closer together as a family, but also the children among themselves to form a close-knit community. How should that work with a large age gap?

This fifth pregnancy was different than the others. I had placenta previa totalis, which means that the placenta “blocked” the birth canal. I had to be hospitalized three weeks before the scheduled appointment. As a result, the birth was different from the others, which were comparatively “relaxed”. My husband was left out. He was needed at home. Due to my indication, the statutory health insurance provided us with a household help who supported the family in every nook and corner. The birth was complex, but all is well that ends well.

If it hadn’t been for Corona, Lynette wouldn’t exist. In the meantime, everyone is very happy that she is there and even the older ones don’t understand why they were so skeptical about their sibling at first.”

The KRFD congratulates them on today’s anniversary and wishes Lynette and her family all the best!

Sonja is the third child of Steffi from Thuringia. Sonja was born at a time when a lot of people got infected with Corona, including the family itself, with significant effects on the birth.

“My husband and I are only children and it was clear to us that we wanted three children. I am a teacher and quit my job during the Corona period. Our Sonja is a planned child. Her siblings Mathilda and Johann are 8 and 5 years old.

I planned my third birth in the birth center in Jena. Everything was prepared, the pregnancy care was provided by the midwives of the birth center. But in the end it was to be different…

The last days before the birth were a state of pure emergency, because shortly before Christmas 2021 all family members gradually became infected with the corona virus. If the test was positive, I was not allowed to go to the birth center. But due to the Christmas holidays, the PCR test result came so late that the quarantine period lasted well into January. The birth was then registered at the hospital. The calculated date of birth was December 27th, 2021 and our children had always kept to the date so far. With the certainty that under quarantine conditions I was only allowed to go to the hospital alone, I drove home in shock. My husband was still feeling bad at this point and the last days before the birth with a pregnant wife and two children at home did not bring the desired recovery. My mom couldn’t support us either; she was in quarantine herself.

As a result, we were really sick for two weeks and the tasks that were actually planned, setting up the changing table, preparing the bed, buying diapers, etc., were left undone. I’ve been struggling with a sinus infection around Christmas for a number of years – and this was also the case in 2021. In addition. So I also felt weak and with the worst idea of ​​not being able to smell my baby and having to go to the hospital alone, I stayed at home for another six days after the scheduled appointment.

On January 2nd, 2022, at noon with the first sunshine of the new year, my mom, whose quarantine ended earlier than ours, finally came to help. Shortly thereafter, I was able to ‘relax’, knowing that my children and husband had support, and promptly went into labor. My mom drove me to the hospital at around 6 p.m. and gave me such valuable words to take with me on my way to cope with the actually beautiful event that was about to happen on my own.

In the delivery room, my rapid test was negative, but my quarantine time counted. If a new PCR test had been carried out and if this had also been negative, I would have been spared treatment as a ‘highly contagious corona patient’. In the hospital I was a patient from the first minute and no longer felt like a woman – mother – human being. I let everything happen, went into myself, blocked out everything that was unnecessary and shortly after 9 p.m. held my daughter Sonja in my arms. The midwife and doctor had a shift change at 10 p.m., so the time was running out to “handle” me as a third-time mother during this shift. So I became a “pathological case” and my desired birth without interventions remained a vision and was far removed from my individual needs, from a relaxed atmosphere,

After this birth, I was torn from my center and could not make well-considered decisions. For this reason, I followed the fear scenario of the midwives, gynecologists – and paediatricians. I stayed in the hospital for three days. Alone, powerless in the isolation room.

It took the midwives and nurses a long time before they were in full protective suits and entered my room. The room was more of a walk-through room and not set up for mom and baby. There was no changing table, baby things and co. Everything was only brought up gradually through my inquiries. The meal tray was placed on top of the hazmat bin at the entrance to the room so I had to collect it myself. I kind of struggled through. And luckily there were two good souls in the hospital who encouraged me, left appreciative words and were simply there for a short time, for me, my worries and my daughter.

“Corona” baby yes or no? I think about the gloves and masks in the delivery room, about the cold disinfectant everywhere and constantly. Even after the birth, no one “came too close” to me and my baby without gloves. And since physical closeness was missing in so many areas in the times of Corona, this is a point that I think back to very painfully. This physical closeness in the first few days… was also taken from us as a family and you can’t bring that time back. I will carry around with me for a long time this pain of feeling lonely and this experience that a newborn was not allowed to be conceived in the circle of his family. Nothing can justify that! From today’s perspective, it would have been my job to break this cycle of fear and stand up for a self-determined birth.

Cornelius is the fourth child of Lena and Ivan with the siblings Nikolai, Natalie and Jonathan from North Rhine-Westphalia. He was born on April 18, 2021.

“Cornelius came rather unplanned. That has nothing to do with Corona per se. With the third child, I noticed that our family with three children was not quite complete. My inner feeling was that it wouldn’t be so bad if I got pregnant.

I work reduced hours, but in a managerial position. I was systemic. My husband works full-time and continued to work in the office, so that we (normal as without Corona) had to go to the office at all times. That suited me perfectly, because in the Corona-technically organized everyday family life I would have had neither space nor peace to work at home. That’s why I preferred to go to the office. I pushed the fear of a possible infection in front of me. For me, the likelihood that the children from daycare and school would bring something home with them is greater than that I would be infected in an almost empty office with an FFP2 mask at a distance from my tested colleagues.

There were no courses at all during the pregnancy. I didn’t find that to be a bad thing, because I was already involved professionally and because you’re actually more relaxed with the fourth child. I did my retraining course online, sometimes with all four children around me.

Looking back, the pregnancy wasn’t normal for me. There was no time to enjoy either before or after the birth. I felt the phase of schooling the most intensely. With Baby, things immediately went on seamlessly. That was amazing! After that I had maternity leave. I have no idea how much else I could have worked realistically and effectively.”

Constantin from Bavaria was born on May 9, 2022 as the seventh son of Cornelia and Marcel. For the family, he is not the only “Corona” baby.

“Our home is in Bavaria. There we live on a property with lots of space in the garden in the middle of fields and meadows in the country. We – that’s me (Cornelia), my husband Marcel and our children Naim (14), Elias (9), Tamino (8), Noah (4), Tristan (2), Valentin (1) and for almost three weeks now also our baby Constantin. Our relation to “Corona”? – We have added a baby every pandemic year.

Tristan was born almost three years before Corona (2020). The first initial phase was really difficult for us. In the middle of the first lockdown, we were suddenly all at home. However, the stress was too great. I also had to play teacher and secretary; That didn’t work for us all of a sudden because the schools and politicians were simply overwhelmed at first. As a family, we really had to grapple with the new situation for three to four weeks. Then I wrote a plan, structured for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just to get an everyday structure. Since then we have discovered cooking evenings and culinary journeys that we create ourselves. However, it was physically too much for me, so I had to wean Tristan after two months. My husband is a train driver and was therefore “systemically important”. After all, one of the little ones (Tamino) was able to go to kindergarten because he was also in the pre-school year.

In summer 2020 I got pregnant again. That was in one of the acute pandemic peak phases. I was afraid of giving birth in the hospital; I had only heard horror stories about how bad it would all be… So we planned a home birth again. The midwife accompanied us from the beginning and came home. Valentin still needed his “special appearance”, so we stopped the home birth and the birth finally took place in the hospital. I can’t confirm the stories I’ve heard about hospitalization. I was taken to the hospital with contractions – there was no time for a mask; I was almost out of breath. And that too was accepted. Despite staff shortages, the staff was incredibly hard-working and cordial. After two hours I left the hospital. By the way, Valentin is now our only child who couldn’t have a baby shower due to the protection regulations. Everyone else got one, just not him. These are little things that are important to us and that we irrevocably miss.

After four March children, we have a May child in 2022 with our youngest son Constantin. He is our third home birth. The pregnancy was much more relaxed and uncomplicated. School and daycare were open again. Constantin got an even bigger baby shower. Actually, it’s also a celebration for mom. One celebrates coming together, mother and happiness in life.

Now we have seven boys in puberty, pre-puberty, kindergarten and baby age. We’ve been through all the ups and downs, especially the older guys were really struggling. Nevertheless, we try to filter out the positive. We did a lot of things as a family that stayed. For example, we did a lot of work at home. Especially for the children we have converted the garden into an adventure playground – with its own pool. After our vacation had to be postponed again and again, we invested the money differently. With seven children, four of whom are non-swimmers, splashing around at home is a lot more relaxed now. My husband is a talented craftsman and goes along with everything – no matter how crazy my ideas are. I give him credit for that. Also, my husband goes shopping 9 times out of 10. 

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