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The Range

Two years later, kids born in 2020 still experiencing pandemic

Kylie Cameron
Lydia Rodriguez (center) was born in April of 2020, a month after the world shutdown due to COVID-19. Mark (left) and Gray (right) Rodriguez are her parents.

Pandemic babies aren't babies anymore — they're toddlers.

For Mark and Gray Rodriguez’s daughter, the pandemic has been her whole life.

Lydia Rodriguez was born in late April of 2020 — a month after the world shut down during the first wave of COVID-19 cases.

Just like for many other people, the pandemic quickly changed her family’s plans — and their lives.

“This was our first pregnancy and it was really exciting, like he could come to all the appointments, and then that halted in the middle of the pregnancy,” Gray Rodriguez said. “So I was sad just because I had to do all of that without him.”

Mark Rodriguez
Lydia Rodriguez with her parents in the hospital in April 2020.

Members of both Mark and Gray’s family were originally going to help the couple in the first few weeks of their firstborn daughter’s life — but the pandemic had other plans.

“We were really cautious and a little extreme, and we just had no help because we didn’t want to put anyone at risk,” Gray Rodriguez said.

The Rodriguez family continues to exercise caution as the pandemic goes on since Mark has a heart condition. Lydia is also still too young to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I feel robbed of normalcy,” Mark said. “When I do feel that way, I try to temper that with: we’re all healthy, we’re all safe.”

With the precautions, some family members who aren’t from the area haven’t met Lydia yet.

If family members do come around, they are asked to wear a mask. Or they meet outside, which is what they did when Lydia turned 1.

“For her first birthday, it was around the time everyone was getting vaccinated,” Gray Rodriguez said. “We thought, ‘This is the ending,’ and so we just made sure everyone who was here was vaccinated, and we did it outdoors.”

Gray’s job working in marketing and her second job with the Film Festival Alliance have always been remote — but Mark works as a web developer and eventually had to go back to the office. With that, Lydia began going to daycare.

“There’s a notable difference in her cognitive ability,” Mark said. “She grew like a weed, and it’s nice being able to go to work and feel comforted that I know she’s around her peers and around people who care about her.”

After a few close encounters with COVID, Lydia’s parents are ready for her to get vaccinated.

“I hate that that’s what we’re waiting on,” Gray said. “But I really feel like that will make us fully comfortable to operate a little more normally, is her being protected.”

While the Rodriguez family waits for the vaccine, Gray says Lydia’s used to pandemic precautions because it’s been her whole life.

“Any adult that’s not us is a masked adult — like all of her doctors and all of her teachers,” Gray said.

“When I put on my mask and take her into daycare, she’s like ‘Mask, mask!” … It’s not even a thought for her, which is kind of fascinating to me because it was such a transition for all the rest of us.”

Now the family is planning Lydia’s second birthday, and they’re looking forward to Lydia being able to travel with them to visit family and friends.

“My dad and Lydia have close birthdays,” Mark said. “(We’ll) probably do some kind of garage situation where we can have doors open and just not worry about it, and hopefully the weather will be nice.”