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Ryemarkable Megan Monaghan!

Tell us about you and your family.

We are now a family of five, with daughters, Olivia (7) and Isabel (4), and new Baby Finn (10 months). We also have an old, snuggly dog named Hazel. I'm an English teacher and my husband works at a tech start-up doing artificial intelligence. We love the beach, being with friends, and having adventures. Finn is the world's greatest baby. He is happy, cuddly, loves to eat, and is so stinkin' cute! He is the baby for the times. Before Finn was born, I knew I'd love him. But I was unprepared for the DEEP, physical love that I feel. This little guy lives in my heart and soul. Perhaps I'm nostalgic because I know this is my last baby. Every moment with him is charged with the intensity of knowing "This is the last time." I'm closing the chapter on pregnancy and infants. And while I have so many wonderful stages ahead of me, I'm mournful over the passage of time. I think many parents struggle with wanting to savor these delicious days while simultaneously being exhausted and busy and counting the minutes until bedtime. I'm trying so hard to be present and stay mindful of each minute's gifts. My husband and I remind one another that one day we will long to come back to this time. We call Finn, "Baby Guy." Sometimes I wonder if he even knows his real name because it's just "Baby Guy" all the time! Finn's older sisters are obsessed with him, and they tote him all over the house. Finn also loves our old dog, Hazel. He crawls over to Hazel and just flops on her to drink his bottle. Finn is totally comfortable everywhere he goes. He is straight chillin' all the time.

What was it like having a baby in 2020? Any particular challenges? Joys?

Finn was born on February 19th, and we had about two quiet weeks at home together before the world went crazy. I had envisioned this very peaceful maternity leave and was looking so forward to spending all this time with just Finn, knowing he's my last baby, really savoring this moment. So, to say that things did not turn out as expected is an understatement! I'll never forget picking up Liv from kindergarten, and her teacher sending home a bag of materials, "Just in case we are not in school next week." We never went back. It was challenging to manage homeschool for my two older daughters and care for Finn. In some ways, I'm really mourning that time as something lost and accepting how reality did not turn out how I planned it. The biggest challenge of having a baby at that moment was not being able to ask for help because we were so nervous about exposure to germs, having someone in the house, etc. There was one night when John felt sick. Suddenly, a high fever came on and he went straight to bed. I was so anxious because I thought, "It's happening. He has Covid, this is happening to us." And my fear was that if he's sick, it's probably a matter of time before I get sick too. And then who takes care of my kids? I was feeding Finn around the clock, so if I get really sick too, what happens? Who takes care of this baby? And who takes care of the other two?! We can't ask a babysitter to come to the house, or friends, or grandparents. It felt like we were totally alone at that moment.

One element of Covid that scares me is the uncertainty. If I get sick, will I be asymptomatic? Or will I be hospitalized? It took three days for John's test to return, and luckily, it turned out to be a bad case of strep throat. But for those three days, I was terrified. Also, I didn't know what happens to infants or children who are exposed. Will they get sick? Are there long-term consequences to exposure? The uncertainty of last spring was really anxious, I really hoped to enjoy my time off and this new, special baby, but it was hard at times when the world was so scary. There were special moments last spring when I found joy. At one point, I was reading on the couch with Olivia around 1pm in the afternoon, and I thought to myself, "In a normal world, she'd be in kindergarten, and we'd never again have the opportunity to snuggle on Wednesday and read together." In some ways, the shutdown slowed time for us. My older daughters also spent more time with Finn than they would have normally been able to. As a result, they are really great helpers and have a very strong bond with him. However, I do want to acknowledge that finding a silver lining in a global pandemic feels a little privileged. Some people have suffered so terribly, so for me to have any joyful memories of this time means that I've been very fortunate. The biggest joy of having a baby during Covid was that despite the darkness of the pandemic, Finn was a tangible reminder of the world's goodness. His sisters dressed him up like a unicorn, and it cracked us up. Hearing his laughter for the first time. The thrill on his face when he stood for the first time. The way he screams and claps when our lazy, old dog lumbers into the room. The way he clutches his stuffed animal when he sleeps. How he squeals when you give him his favorite blanket. When he discovered the fun of splashing in the dog's water bowl. The time he tried to climb into the toilet. The times he KEPT climbing into the toilet. Finn has been 2020's brightest light, warming us with his easy smile and happy vibes. Has 2020 taught you anything? Expect the unexpected. There are times when I look around and think...if you told me a year ago that we'd be here now, I wouldn't have believed it. So, let me enjoy something while I have it- I've learned it can vanish without any warning.

The pandemic has forced me to reset. I've realized there were elements of my pre-pandmic life that I don't miss, so I'm going to work very hard not to let those things back in.

The importance of community. I've always valued community, and now I do even more. Everyone from close friends and family, to teachers in my children's schools, to Douglas at the CG Griffins, to the employees at Traders' Joes...I need and love all my people! I recently listened to a podcast about the value of "weak connections," these are the people who you don't know well, but they still play a role in your daily life. Think of the barista you see each morning while getting coffee, or the conductor on the train, the crossing guard you pass on your walk...that's community too. And I really missed all of these of level connections. Going forward, I'm going to try really hard to be grateful, to be kind, to remember that it all can disappear, so make this moment count.


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