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Aurelia Ziazan

3/12/20 I was pregnant and, like all women due in fall 2020, I was terrified. A novel pandemic and a new pregnancy meant that any woman who had contracted COVID-19 during their first trimester hadn’t given birth yet. No actual data existed on the effects on the baby. These lines from the CDC website didn’t allay my fears, especially because I had been extremely sick with a fever just the week prior. I read this on a lunch break, quickly packed up my work things, and left. A week later, most of the world shut down.

Without any childcare or grandma support, and with a husband who needed to go in to work at an essential business, I ran ragged caring for a toddler and working full time while pregnant. Work was particularly stressful: I struggled to secure PPE for our team members and worked through packaging and raw material shortages after panic buying left bakery shelves empty.

5/3/20 We decided on the baby’s middle name: Ziazan (‘dziadzan’), which means rainbow in Armenian. Her namesake is Mark’s great grandmother (Nona’s mother). We told Nona and she was overjoyed. Throughout the summer she would regularly ask “When will Ziazan be here?”

8/19/20 The world only got more crazy and fires raged through the state. The mandatory evacuation line crossed our close neighbor’s living room, an apt metaphor for the illogical insanity of the times. To play it safe, we packed and left to stay at my parents’ place in Gilroy.

8/21/20 We returned home and then awoke on the morning of the 22nd to hear the news of Nona’s passing. I wished so badly that she had been able to meet the baby.

9/9/20 Thirteen days to my due date, fires still raged and yet I allowed my optimism to delude myself into thinking this baby would usher in an end to the fires. I thought maybe in two weeks, we would finally see rain and maybe even a rainbow, a tall order considering the sky was the same orange as Zara’s onesie.

9/10/20 The next day, I went into labor and Aurelia Ziazan came into the world at 3:28pm -- a beautiful and healthy baby girl. We were discharged only 18-hours after her birth, and my absurd hopes proved fanciful: the hazy sky was in the worst condition we had seen all year. We weren’t parked far, but Mark ran to pull up the car to reduce her exposure to the outdoor air.

I waited in the crowded hospital lobby and worried. I worried that she would contract COVID-19 from the many people coming in and out. I worried that her first breath of outside air would fill her tiny lungs with smoke and ash. I worried about this world in which nothing was contained. What right did I have bringing a child into all this?

3/10/21 Aurelia turned six months old and had her doctor’s checkup that morning. I left elated, having learned the hard way to never take the words “your baby is healthy” for granted.

It rained most of the afternoon and then, abruptly, it all subsided and the world smelled fresh, teeming with the promise of renewal. I was out on a walk with Aurelia and just as we turned onto our street, I saw what I had been looking for all this time. I smiled and said aloud “Nona, your Ziazan is here.” I walked home thinking about how we’re often not actually waiting for the rain itself, but enduring for what comes after.


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