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We are expecting our first baby. Today.

Right now, Chanelle Henderson and her husband Cameron might be dealing with COVID-19 constraints, as they apply to the very beginning of life.

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“There is a lot of misinformation and half-truths being shared online – you’re not allowed this, you’re not allowed that,” said Chanelle, a few days out from the due date of Tuesday, April 7. “But as far as we can work out, you are allowed one person as your support partner during your labour and birth.

“This is different – hospital to hospital, as well – but no visitors to the hospital. Birth partner only,” she continues about what to expect when you are expecting to deliver a baby during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chanelle also could be discharged between six and eight hours after birth, depending upon how mother and child are going.

While Chanelle has had an uncomplicated pregnancy, the Hendersons were keen to stay in hospital as long as possible, to get all the expert help they can during the first days of parenthood.

“The realisation that they cannot hold the baby for minimum of two weeks – they can’t come into any contact – that was really tough.” – Chanelle Henderson

During the past few months, adjusting their expectations has been perpetual, but the most difficult, enforced change so far has been telling their parents they cannot visit them in hospital or even at home for the first two weeks.

“It was hard when we had to break it to our parents that they might not be able to see the baby for a while,” shares Channelle, before adding: “Not coming to the hospital was one thing for my parents to handle, but the realisation that they cannot hold the baby for minimum of two weeks – they can’t come into any contact – that was really tough.”

“So, we won’t have any visitors [in our home].

“We’ll probably have our parents looking through the window in our front room, because we can’t let them into our house.”

A registered musical therapist who lives in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, NSW, Chanelle and Cameron – also a professional musician – often have felt overwhelmed in recent weeks. But they are trying to manage that by cutting out additional stress, such as not being glued to the latest news updates. They also have been responding to “moments of anxiety” about family and work life, with greater focus on parts of their Christian faith.

“When things are not going normal, it definitely makes you think a lot more about God and relying on him more,” says Cameron, who also works one day per week at the church they attend, Soma Church Blue Mountains.

“If this had happened when I was on a contract for a theatre show, or on tour, it would have been a lot more of an impact.” – Cameron Henderson

Although Cameron notes that financial stress is familiar to most musicians, Cameron feels “blessed” because, this year, most of his work has gravitated to teaching in schools. Previously, he played more gigs and shows, such as musical theatre at the Sydney Opera House or touring internationally with Australian band Middle Kids.

“The main school I teach at has been really good to us. They have helped us move everything online. The majority of my students I have been able to keep, which is an awesome blessing,” says Cameron, noting how schools must navigate the problematic terrain of privacy and security issues for minors online.

“You definitely feel like you are working twice as hard, teaching guitar,” he admits about online tutorials. “And, unfortunately, these programs aren’t very good for music. There are delays and the audio quality is not very good.

“[But] If this had happened when I was on a contract for a theatre show, or on tour, it would have been a lot more of an impact.

“A lot of my buddies were mid-tour and have just been sent home. So many musicians are just scrambling around, trying to figure out what to do. It really does make you trust God.

“But God does provide and, for me, God’s help me feel calm during this time,” adds Cameron, noting  how supportive his church family has been, even dropping off a “heap of groceries” last week.

“When there’s a lot of craziness going on and it’s everywhere, just to feel calm and [God’s] there and to know that he loves us and we’re not alone, I think is one of the most comforting things.”

“It can be so easy to get caught up in not knowing [things] … or what tomorrow will look like, [so] it’s taking that worry, praying about it and putting it aside.” – Chanelle Henderson

Chanelle finished work at her business, Noro Music Therapy, in the first week of March. Yes, that was just before EVERYTHING changed. Before she went on maternity leave, she was still providing musical therapy in aged-care centres, facilities for people living with a disability, preschools and clients who came to their clinic.

“The place I worked at is all online and obviously no aged care, no preschool,” says Chanelle.

“The complexity of client needs means Noro has had to respond quickly while aiming for minimal disruption. Especially in disability and autism, it’s about keeping up as much routine as possible. Imagine people at home with their school-aged children who have autism that can’t now go to music, or this, or that?

“The main aim has been keeping up routine for as many school children as possible.”

Anticipating the arrival of their first child into our changing world, the Hendersons already accept they cannot know what the next few days, weeks or months will bring. But they have been looking at Psalms 2 and 16, recently, and are struck by their focus on seeking refuge in God, seeking God’s protection and support during times of great difficulty.

Chanelle has been doing that, in prayer. “It can be so easy to get caught up in not knowing [things] … or what tomorrow will look like, [so] it’s taking that worry, praying about it and putting it aside.

“Otherwise, I do keep thinking about it and getting anxious about it.”

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