Thirty years ago, I laid on my mother's chest wrapped in her arms, like an everlasting swing. Today, after three decades, I have returned to the womb. The world today has given us a pause; a life without haste, without pressures, and without excuses. For more than hundred and forty days we were locked in a confined space. Today, the world stands still and life in this house has frozen into a hug.
When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Santiago de Chile, I spent 146 days in total lockdown, together with my son and mother. During this time, I explored my own motherhood, as well as the relationship with my mother ,as we lived with limited exposure to the outdoors. My quarantine days are breastfeeding, napping, diapering, playing, loving, and repeating. Deep down, I feel that quarantine is like new motherhood— full of loneliness, isolation, unanswered questions, anxiety, reflections, and hope. I see these emotions as a neutral feeling, neither negative nor positive. They are simply new.
I have lived through two quarantines in the last year; both of them after the birth of my son, Ikal. In Latin America, many new mothers observe a 40-day quarantine period in which relatives and friends take over household chores so that the mother and her baby can bond while recovering from the birth. For some reason, I still feel like I am a puerpera, a woman who has just given birth. I think this is because the context and the emotional register of my life remains so similar. During my first quarantine, postpartum, I was full of hope. But this quarantine has brought me great anxiety for the future, for my son, and for the planet.
In 2020, residents of most districts in Santiago de Chile waited for at least 140 days in a total lockdown, in an effort to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the year was spent living in partial confinement, under a series of new rules designed to restrict movement and social gatherings. Today, we are the ones who must inhabit the world in a different way.