A Letter to My Pandemic Baby

On March 26, 2020, as hospitals in the US were starting to fill with coronavirus patients and the country was adjusting to the new reality of lockdown, WIRED senior associate editor Zak Jason found out he was expecting his first child. Over the next nine months, he and his wife, Kristen, wrote letters and recorded notes to their unborn daughter, trying to explain the world she’d be born into as it seemed to spin faster than ever.

As World War II may seem to baby boomers and 9/11 to Gen Z, children born during and after 2020 may view memories of the pandemic, the smoke-choked orange skies over Australia and the American West, protests in the streets, an endless election, and a hologram of a deceased father wishing his daughter a happy birthday as a bizarre fairytale. This is one attempt to show it was real: virtual birthing classes, nasal swabs, sonograms over FaceTime, risk assessment for visiting grandparents, trying to lift a phantom blueberry with your vagina during a streamed Kegel lesson, troglodytic apps for daddies, and all. In this week’s episode of the Get WIRED podcast, the parents-to-be share some of their dispatches from a most difficult year to breathe—virions and ash attacking lungs, lies suffocating truth, a knee on a neck—as their daughter, Leona, prepared to take her first breath.

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