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Having A "Pandemic Baby": The Ventura County Mom Preparing To Give Birth During A Health Crisis


The coronavirus pandemic has led to a decline in pregnancies, with surveys showing a substantial decline in predicted births this year and folks delaying their family plans. 

KCLU met up with a Ventura County mom-to-be to talk about what it’s like to plan for a family during a health crisis.

Genessee Semler is nurturing a baby bump – due in two and a half weeks. She's 37 weeks and three days into her pregnancy and could give birth any time now. 

She says that although she's aware they're having a "pandemic baby," both she and her husband have been planning a family since they married in 2018. 

"For us this was always the plan, we just feel lucky that we got married in time and she's still going to be young while this is going on." 

When it comes to restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic, Genessee says she thinks the thing she most missed out on was having her husband at her baby appointments, as she had to attend them alone. 

It's not just her husband missing out on the visits.

Because of COVID precautions,  Genessee – who lives in Thousand Oaks – says she’s planning laboring as much as possible at home when the time comes – and once the baby arrives, she won’t be allowed visitors.

"That made me sad because I wanted my mum and sister to come.  I feel like it's a rite of passage that they see the baby when they're really a newborn. 

"We have come to think that's a blessing in disguise as it forces us to focus on the three of us. But I will miss not having my parents able to visit." 

She says they had expected to take a financial hit this year but their jobs ended up being ok as they’ve both been able to work from home in fairly secure roles - and that she doesn’t take for granted that they are in a financial position to be able to grow their family, at a time when so many are having to put those plans on hold.

"It has made me feel really blessed. It's been so expensive. We've hit my deductible, which was extremely high.  I don't know how people can afford to have a child in the US, I do feel that something needs to change with the healthcare system. I didn't realise how expensive it was going to be just to give birth. 

"I feel like we are really lucky. She is going to be mixed race so that poses its own social issues but we are going to be very intentional about talking to her about issues around class and race.

"We both believe that you can't forget about a huge swathe of the population. And we are politically dissimilar, on opposite ends of the spectrum. But we do see the need to make sure that you're not ignoring people that make up the bulk of the population economically."

KCLU is going to continue to follow Genessee’s journey as she welcomes her little one. 

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.
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