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CORONAVIRUS HEROES, Part 1: Navigating Pregnancy in a Pandemic

This is the first in the EAGLE’s 10-part Coronavirus Heroes series. Every weekend, a new Coronavirus Hero will be featured. This week’s Coronavirus Hero is Carlyn Mitchell, of Regions Bank’s Jackson Avenue branch. 

As a financial consultant for Regions Bank, Carlyn Mitchell said she loves to help others.  

It’s what makes her enjoy her job so much, she said, even in times of crisis. Banks are still considered an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Mitchell has yet to miss a day of work. 

Mitchell isn’t the average essential worker, however – she’s also seven months pregnant with a little girl, and lives with type 1 diabetes. Being doubly at-risk is something Mitchell said is always at the forefront of her mind, but this isn’t the first time a virus has threatened one of her pregnancies. 

“When I was pregnant with my first child, the whole Zika virus thing was going on. We wanted to do a cruise, but we couldn’t travel anywhere down on the coast,” she said. “When (the coronavirus) came along, and since I found out I was pregnant in November, I was like, ‘Dang it, why do these viruses keep interfering with my pregnancies?’” 

While she’s able to joke about it now, Mitchell said she had – and still has – some fear when it comes to coronavirus. Namely, the lack of information regarding its effects on pregnant women and the inability to lead a normal life, to which many can relate. For example, Mitchell said she’s not able to go to the grocery store, out of an abundance of caution. Her husband does the shopping instead. 

Then, of course, come the social casualties – not being able to see family members and friends during what should be a time of great joy, preparing to bring life into the world.  

“I started freaking out, because at first they said pregnant women aren’t as at-risk, because they didn’t have enough evidence. Then, things started coming out, and moms were dying… it freaked me out,” Mitchell said. “It’s unfortunate. I can’t have a baby shower. I can’t go see my friends and family. It’s not as fun, because you don’t get to share the experience with your family and friends. I’m kind of just holed up.”  

The one place, outside of her home, in which Mitchell said she feels safe is her workplace. Like other banks in Oxford, Regions made the decision early on to close its lobbies to customers. Since Mitchell works on the “desk side,” she doesn’t handle a cash box and doesn’t interact with customers the way a teller might. 

Regions conducts as much business as possible through the drive-thru lanes, and all associates have masks to wear as a form of personal protective equipment. However, she said, she’s still had to adapt further. 

“I had to make my own mask, because I couldn’t breathe out of the ones Regions provided, because my daughter is pushing on my diaphragm,” she said. “It’s been a weird time to be pregnant.” 

As she enters her third trimester, Mitchell said the next thing she’s looking forward to is having coronavirus under control. If the pandemic is gone by June or July, she said, she can hopefully have more support people with her in the delivery room.  

Already the mother of a two-year-old boy, with whom she had to be on bedrest for two weeks prior to birth, Mitchell said she knows how isolating a hospital room can be without visitors.  

“I would have gone crazy if it wasn’t for all the visitors I had then… my husband, my sister, my dad, my mom, friends,” she said. “I’m hoping that the steps Oxford has taken, and people staying away and letting this die down a little bit, helps this die down and two months from now, this won’t be so intense.” 

For now, Mitchell said she knows not working is not an option for her family. It’s important to remain financially stable, especially when her work environment is still safe and virus-free.  

“I’m not the type of person to rely on other people. … I’m still able to go to work,” she said. “The stimulus check was great. That helps, but it’s not going to get us through this situation.” 

Many times, on social media and on television, Mitchell said she’s seen healthcare workers lauded as the only heroes of the pandemic. However, she said, the definition of a “Coronavirus Hero” is a little broader.   

There are dozens of jobs listed as “essential” under crisis protocol, and they all deserve recognition, Mitchell said. 

“I fully believe that the healthcare workers are the top, because they’re killing it, and grocery store workers and stuff like that,” she said. “But a lot of people don’t think about how many people come to the bank. … When you work for a job that’s customer-based, after a certain amount of time, you have clients and customers who only want to deal with you.”  

“That’s the part of my job I love the most, just helping people. If I can help someone out of a situation, that is my favorite part of what I do.” 

Mitchell said continuing to work and help provide for her family would not be possible without the support of her husband, Jacob. Currently acting as primary caregiver for their son, Mitchell said her husband has acted as her rock throughout the trials of a pandemic pregnancy and life in general. 

“If I’m complaining that my back is hurting, or that my ribs are hurting because my child won’t stop kicking me… he understands, kind of, and so he’s been great through this whole thing,” she said. “It’s nice to have someone who appreciates what you’re doing.”