While a quick labor is usually desirable for any mom about to give birth, the coronavirus pandemic made it a little more difficult to appreciate the more positive aspects of that reality for Mary Conley.
The stylist and blogger — who just welcomed her third son, Elijah Michael, with husband Mike Conley Jr. — recently opened up to E! News about her newborn's quick arrival earlier this month, discussing the "tricky" situation that saw Mike not quite make it home to Ohio from the NBA "bubble" in Orlando, Florida, in time for his son's birth.
"Labor takes a while anyways so I would think, hopefully, we'd have, like, eight to 10 hours … we feel good about the way we're going to do it," Mary told the outlet of herself and her Utah Jazz point guard husband.
The plan was for Mike, 32, to jump on a plane from Orlando — where he has been playing since the NBA season resumed in July amid the global health crisis — when Mary felt the first signs of labor, since she opted not to schedule an induction or cesarean section ("I just prefer to let my body naturally do what it's ready to do," she says.)
But Elijah decided to make a fast entry into the world, with his mom telling E! News, "It broke my heart that Michael wasn't able to make it for the actual birth but we waited as long as possible and the baby was just ready to come!"
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Born Into a Pandemic: How the Coronavirus Complicates Births for Moms and Babies
"Thank goodness for FaceTime, which sounds so weird to say," Mary continues. "Michael was able to be there virtually and I was able to see him and hear his voice, which was really encouraging."
Luckily, it didn't take long for Mike to arrive at the hospital and have the skin-to-skin bonding experience with his new baby boy, as well as spend the next 24 hours with his family that also includes sons Noah, 2, and Myles, 4.
And the two big brothers "did way better than" their parents thought they would at having to say goodbye to their superstar athlete dad so soon after he arrived — something Mary credits the "great distraction" of their new baby brother with.
"They want [Elijah] everywhere they go," she tells E! News. "At night when we go back to read books, they always want the baby to come with us. He's usually sleeping and I'd prefer to leave him as is so I can focus on our bedtime routine, but I know his presence is really important to them."
"They love to hold him and give him kisses, Noah is great at singing him songs and Myles loves to tell him stories," Mary adds. "The second he makes a fuss or a slight cry they are the first to tell me the baby needs to eat!"
As for the new mother of three, "I knew everything was okay, the baby was here and perfect and everyone was doing well," she says of how taking her husband to the airport after Elijah's birth was easier for her than when he initially left for the season (he also had to be in quarantine for days before playing again after arriving back in Florida). "I had also mentally prepared myself for him going back to the bubble after the baby was born, which helped. My heart still aches."
And she's marveling at the reality of how the pandemic has played out compared to how things looked a few months ago. "When COVID first started, I felt really bad for all the women who were due to have babies during that time and you know whether their spouse couldn't be there, or they were only allowed one person [in the hospital]," Mary says. "I was so grateful, selfishly, that I wasn't having my baby in the early spring."
"Well, here we are in August and COVID is still affecting everybody and affecting me big time with them in the bubble," she adds.
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