For Pacific Northwest Ballet corps dancer Emma Love Suddarth, the Seattle shutdown had a special twist: During her time at home, she was in her third trimester of pregnancy and, in May, gave birth to her son Milo, with husband and PNB soloist Price Suddarth.
Dance Magazine checked in with her via email about becoming a mom during a pandemic.
"We decided to tackle a large home renovation at the same time as the birth of our first child," she writes. "Multiple people asked if we were crazy," but being efficient and organized is her go-to mode.
When the pandemic hit and PNB canceled in-person classes and rehearsals, the extra free time felt like a boon. "We had grand plans of the epic home clean out that everyone dreams of—both in preparation for Milo and for the house project. I thought, This is our chance! After all, it would only take a few days, right?"
"When everything closed, everything changed."
Prior to the shutdown, Suddarth had been able to continue her regular morning routine for much of her pregnancy. She'd go to the gym, have coffee and breakfast with her husband, and then take ballet class, or as much of it she could. "When everything closed, everything changed. No gym, no class, no need for coffee at light speed." She described the forced routine change as a "crash course for motherhood."
But it also allowed her to take a breath. "Because our schedule as dancers always felt so tight, I relied on routine to make everything happen efficiently within the free moments we had."
Before Milo's arrival, the couple settled into a different, much slower routine: "Price and I took morning jogs together (he willingly adopted a more leisurely pace with a very pregnant me). We savored our morning coffee rather than solely depending on it to jolt us into action, and we took long walks with our dogs in parts of our neighborhood we'd never discovered."
The waiting game
Many mothers-to-be would use the extra time to prep the baby's room, but Suddarth, naturally, had already checked that off. "We were ready for Milo's arrival before the shutdown even started. That hospital bag was packed and sitting by the door a good month and a half in advance. The crib sheets were washed, the drawers of onesies were filled, and the diaper bag was stocked."
With everything in order, there was nothing to do but wait, but the hopes of cleaning her closet quickly faded. "We couldn't quite shift our heads from baby to anything else, so being 'productive' in other ways went out the window." Sure, it was nice to slow down, she says, but "the waiting game was only magnified by the shutdown." And then it was magnified again: Her due date came and went. Ten days later, Milo was finally born.
While she says they enjoyed the unanticipated bonus weeks at home together, "the impatience was overwhelming."
Unexpectedly at home
Though the coronavirus unfortunately meant that PNB had to cancel its last planned program of the season and a June tour to New York City, there was a silver lining for the Suddarths. "Price was going to be heading back to work almost immediately after Milo's birth," she writes. Instead, he got to stay at home with the baby. "I can't imagine a better way to spend this afternoon than typing with Milo sleeping on my chest and Price Googling jogging strollers next to me."
Suddarth's routine has understandably shifted again, so much so to the point of disappearing. " 'Routine' is a foreign concept now—and this creature of habit wouldn't have it any other way."