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Bethany Mollenkof

Photographer Bethany Mollenkof found out she was pregnant three months before COVID-19 shut down swaths of the United States. She began to document her own experiences during quarantine in Los Angeles—from her first ultrasound, which her husband had to watch from the parking lot over FaceTime, to childbirth. Although Mollenkof had hoped for a natural birth, she decided to deliver in a hospital in case of complications—which proved the right choice. After her water broke, her contractions did not start, and ultimately labor was induced to keep the baby safe. “I thought about my friends, my community, and what it would feel like to become new parents in isolation—to not have people around us to help, people who years later could tell our daughter that they’d held her when she was a few days old,” Mollenkof wrote in a photo essay for National Geographic. “But I also thought about women throughout history, women who have survived wars, pandemics, miscarriages. Their resilience guided me.”


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