Pregnant in a Pandemic with Whitney Cunningham Walker
Originally from West Palm Beach, FL Whitney Cunningham Walker is a graduate of The Benjamin School and Dartmouth College with 13 years of experience in marketing, branding, and public relations. Whitney began her career in the entertainment, lifestyle, and corporate arenas when she starred on Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model” in 2007. Next, at Sean “Diddy” Combs’ The Blue Flame Agency / Combs Enterprises in New York City she rose from a marketing assistant to an Associate Director of Marketing spearheading Cîroc Ultra-Premium Vodka to one of America’s Hottest Brands (Advertising Age). She then established the New York City business development firm, Brandchild, where she worked with Penguin Random House, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and New York Times bestselling author, Wes Moore, whose novel “The Work,” under Whitney’s tutelage, catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list.
Whitney returned to Florida in 2017 to manage venue operations for Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) Manatee Lagoon where she activated community partnerships. Today, Whitney is FPL’s Senior Community Relations Specialist, where she oversees community outreach such as the management of major event sponsorships and community events. Whitney is passionate about devoting time and support to underserved communities and serves on the board of directors at Community Partners of South Florida, is a member of the West Palm Beach chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and a member of the Junior League of the Palm Beaches’ Community Advisory Council. In her spare time, Whitney enjoys spending time with her family, teaching her church school class, trail bike riding, kayaking, boating, and traveling abroad.
Pregnant in the Pandemic by Whitney Cunningham Walker
I was enjoying a beautiful March morning of golf at The Players Championship in Jacksonville. It was my first out-of-town work event in a new role, so while the bar was open, I wasn’t partaking. I called it “professionalism,” but I was really holding onto a beautiful little secret that made me smile every time a colleague offered to “grab me a drink.” I was three months pregnant, and that drink was totally a sacrifice worth making.
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It wasn’t even lunchtime when I got the call that changed it all. It was my boss. “You need to drive back as soon as possible. We’re shutting down the office and working from home indefinitely.” My inbox flooded with apologetic emails about “life” being canceled… indefinitely. Then the PGA’s announcement hit. Tournament canceled. Everybody go home.
My ever-involved hubby was already driving the 4 hours to meet me in Jacksonville. He wouldn’t dare have me, his newly expecting partner be anywhere alone for too long and the “pre-Corona” plan was for him to pick me up when the day ended. So I waited as the hours felt like a lifetime giving the dread I was feeling all of the time it needed to settle into my head.
I thought about my baby shower… or lack thereof. I thought about not being on the receiving end of a stranger’s welcomed (or unwelcomed) pat on my belly. I thought about my family, friends, and coworkers not being able to watch me grow and walk up to me with their helpful (or unsolicited) advice and comments. It was looking like all of the experiences I’d associated with the pregnancy of my first child would not live up my own personal desires.
I watched the mass exodus of bodies drifting away from the 16th hole, as my pity party was abruptly interrupted by waning smiles and eyes filled with dread all over… It was like looking into a mirror as the dread I was feeling was so obviously being reflected in everyone around me.
As singular as my experience felt entering a global pandemic at 3 months pregnant, in that moment, I realized it was no longer just about me. Life as I knew it wasn’t just changing indefinitely for me, it was was changing for EVERYONE.
That’s the thing about these last 5 months that’s made pregnancy during Covid-19 a really ironic, paralleling experience.
- Practicing sacrifice.
- My husband doesn’t get to come into the doctor’s office with me. Instead, he drives me to each and every appointment sitting and waiting for me for hours on end in the parking lot.
- I didn’t get to plan an expensive, over the top baby shower with epic pictures to post on Instagram and Facebook. Instead, I had friends come out of the woodworks to plan and surprise me with what I’m sure will be the most genuinely, heartfelt virtual moment I’ve ever experienced.
- I didn’t get to take professional pregnancy photos with my favorite makeup artist and photographer. Instead, my husband makes me ditch the sweatpants and messy bun on Thursdays and get dressed up for our weekly progress pics to share with our families near and far. Our daughter will love looking at these one day.
Sure— these all seem like first world problems, and the term “sacrifice” could be considered a stretch, but maybe our part helped a nurse feel a little less anxiety about doing their job, and a potential partygoer feel a little safer by joining the fun from home. That’s the important part. Not to mention, every small sacrifice has given way to a much greater, and longer-term reward. Like being able to go outside again. Pandemics, like parenting, take sacrifice, but it pans out in a bigger and better way in the end.
- We’re in this together. Our individual desires have been curbed to take a backseat for the greater good of us all. Sounds a lot like parenting.
- Fight for each other. Because anything worth having, never comes easy. Sounds a lot like parenting.
No crystal ball, psychic, or prophet could’ve made me believe that an experience like having my first child would be happening during a global pandemic, or that it would become this strangely serendipitous moment in time. I will literally be giving birth to a new life that will change my world completely, and collectively, we are all going through the exact same thing. As my daughter enters her life, humanity will be reemerging with a better understanding of how to be better for one another. Despite it all, this is something for which I am grateful. And while I continue to pray every day for anyone and everyone affected by this unfathomable virus, I hope the lessons it has forced give me the understanding I’ll need in the future as a mother, and compel us to be united and stronger as a people.
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