Dad and 7-month-old meet for the first time after being separated because of the lockdown

The global pandemic shifted a lot of things for people and directly impacted the family dynamic. For families living on separate continents and even in different provinces, living apart became a requirement. When the lockdown was implemented, people had to remain exactly where they were.

This was the reality for Mandisa and Ernestas Jancenkas who are South African and Lithuanian respectively.

Ernerstas lives and works in Lithuania and when the lockdown was implemented, he was planning to fly to South Africa for his son’s birth. Unfortunately, the world was shut down before he could fly.

Helplessness was the emotion both of them felt at this point. Their birthing plan was thrown out the window, and there was nothing they could do about it. Ernestas was meant to be Mandisa’s birthing partner, but instead, her mom had to step in. It became stressful for Mandisa and all she could do was weep.

It was an emotional rollercoaster as well for Ernestas, who felt that he was losing out on important milestones. “I can never get those moments back,” he says. He also adds that ” I was saddened that I could not help my wife during a difficult time.”

The months that followed were full of video chats and endless telephonic conversations. Their son, Teodoras Jancekas became familiar with daddy’s face.

His familiarity, however, did not make their face-to-face meet any less heartwarming and confusing. Ernestas noticed how confused his son was to see his father’s not on a computer. This was, according to him, a “hearty moment”.

The struggle was also experienced by families that were in separate provinces in South Africa, and co-parenting ones had to navigate these new challenges.

Mandisa and her husband are making plans to live together in South Africa. This experience has made them realise “the importance of staying together as a family”.

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