Family navigates social distancing with newborn

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines have changed life for nearly all Americans, but the pandemic can’t stop babies from being born.

However, the outbreak has altered birth stories and photo albums for families all over the world, including the Houghtons, a family originally from the Kalamazoo area.

Charlie Houghton was born Thursday on the east side of the state, but most of his family still have not met him in person.

“That’s been the kind of heartbreaking part of it, is that we were so excited to have a baby and share it with my parents and (my husband’s) parents and aunts and uncles and everything,” said Sara Houghton, Charlie’s mom.

It wasn’t at all what they expected, and they have the experience to help guide them. Their 3-year-old daughter, Caroline and came into the world at a much calmer time.

They took her to Mexico when she was a few months old, something that they can safely say won’t happen with Charlie.

While parents worry about their children having too much screen time as they stay home from school, the Houghtons relied on it for Caroline’s first meeting with her new brother.

They talk through FaceTime together as mom held Charlie in her hospital bed, with Caroline asking in a sweet voice, “Can I see brother now?”

“On the one hand, it was a little bit lonely, but on the other, that was very nice bonding for the three of us, we got nothing but access to him, 24/7”, said Sara Houghton.

Now, they’re doing the same bonding as a family of four at home.

The grandparents stood six feet away as they brought Charlie inside, then left without holding their newest grandchild.

“It was very hard not to have them around and not let them get to soak up the love that we’ve been able to soak up the past few days,” Sara explained.

The Houghtons believe you should make do with the hand you’ve been given and expect to look back on this whole time someday with awe.

“This is a historical moment, like being born in wartime or something, that we’ll be able to tell him, this is what was going on when you were born,” Sara said.

They very much look forward to reflecting on it when Charlie’s aunts, uncles, and grandparents can hold him close again.