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New moms finding ways to share their special day despite pandemic

Updated May 10, 2020 - 8:49 am

Mother’s Day weekend took on special meaning for one family, who didn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic stand in the way of bringing four generations of women together to celebrate the newest member of the club, a baby girl.

Christie Jensen, a North Las Vegas woman who gave birth to Eliana on April 2, and family members wanted to ensure her 97-year-old grandmother, June Watkins, who is in an assisted-living home in Mesquite, was part of the occasion.

The family drove up to Mesquite to visit her through her bedroom window on Friday, and the facility also helped arrange a Zoom call so the family can celebrate Mother’s Day together on Sunday.

The family spoke with the new great-grandmother over the phone, through the living room window of the facility. Staff at the facility ultimately allowed Watkins to walk outside and stand about 10 feet away from her family to get a better view of Eliana.

“My grandma was so in love with the baby,” Jensen said. “It was sad she couldn’t get to hold her, she was trying to touch her little feet through the screen.”

Just getting family members to Las Vegas was a challenge amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Her mother, dad and brother flew in from Florida at the end of March.

Her mom, Alicia Jensen, said the journey to Las Vegas was difficult, with few available flights and a seemingly endless two-week quarantine once they arrived, but it was worth it to help welcome her granddaughter into the world.

She said she was glad the family was able to get together to celebrate Mother’s Day with four generations of women and three generations of moms. Alicia Jensen also said she knows the meeting meant the world to her mother, whose eyes welled with tears as she saw her great-granddaughter for the first time.

“She may not remember much of it, but she does know that there’s a new baby in the family and it’ll make her really happy to see her,” Alicia Jensen said before the Friday meeting.

But she said she also worries about her daughter, as well as other moms, having to quarantine during this time in their lives.

“I worry about her because she should be spending this weekend with her friends, celebrating her new baby,” she said. “These are moments she’ll never be able to get back.”

Still, she emphasized the importance of moms staying home to keep their babies safe and healthy during this time. Alicia Jensen also said she believes new moms are well-advised to order groceries if possible, or wear a mask and stay away from people if they have to leave the house.

Virtual pampering

A year ago, such advice wasn’t on the minds of new moms or anyone else for that matter.

In fact, the day before Mother’s Day last year, nearly 400 moms gathered in Downtown Summerlin for a Celebration of Women, an annual event hosted by Fit4Mom, a national organization designed to help moms stay fit and connected.

This year, there was no such outdoor celebration bringing scores of moms together. The event was just one of many that have fallen by the wayside in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

But Jessica Peralta, who runs the Las Vegas chapter of Fit4Mom, said the organization worked to make the best of the situation, instead holding a day of classes and events online.

The day kicked off with a home workout for the family at 9 a.m. and continued until 9 p.m. with a new event each hour, including a cooking class to help kids make brunch for their mom, a pampering and meditation class for mothers, an arts and crafts class to help kids make a special gift for their mom and a wine and food pairing class for adults.

“We take a lot of pride in helping to provide a sense of community amongst moms in the valley and opportunities for families to meet other families,” Peralta said. “Our goal is to always provide opportunities, whether it’s at our workouts or through events like this, just giving opportunities for moms to get out there and interact with other moms who are just like them.”

That’s even more important now, as new moms find themselves navigating motherhood during the coronavirus pandemic, said Peralta, a mother of four.

“Motherhood can feel really isolating, especially now,” she said. “Just by communicating with other moms we can often realize that we’re actually not alone in our feelings and just simply having other moms to be able to talk to and relate with can make a world of difference in just trying to survive that journey throughout motherhood.”

Feeling less alone

Shannon Belford, a mother of 9-month-old twins and new member of the group, said she was disappointed to miss out on the in-person event but is thankful that Peralta was able to move the celebration — and everything else the organization usually does — online.

“I remember they told me about the event like two months ago and I was just so excited,” Belford said. “But, fortunately, we can just do it online, and all the virtual stuff has actually been really cool because they do date nights on Saturdays and then we still do our workouts.”

Belford moved to Las Vegas with her husband and their sons in January. The transition was hard at first, until she found Fit4Mom. She said the group has helped her feel less alone while also providing recommendations for things to do and places to go in the valley.

She said she recommends that all moms find a group of other moms to connect with.

“I went from working full time and going to school to staying at home with the twins and then being in quarantine,” Belford said. “And I kind of struggled a little bit but then I found out that there’s like other people who have, you know, the same thing that you’re going through.”

This Mother’s Day, Belford said she and her husband plan to get out on a walking trail to celebrate Mother’s Day.

“We just love being outside, it’s our favorite thing, and it’s been hard to miss out on that,” Belford said. “So I’m excited to get my boys outside and get some fresh air.”

Contact Alexis Egeland at aegeland@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexis_egeland on Twitter.

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