When I first started to write this my little one was nearly 6 months old and we were in Lockdown number 3 in the UK. Now as I share this our boy is 10 months old and our restrictions are slowly lifting as the months go on.
For me I was pregnant during lockdown with only one friend going through the same thing, all my other friends who had been pregnant had been so before Coronavirus was known to us publicly. So with that in mind, and I know this isn’t for everyone, I have decided to share my experiences with pregnancy during a global pandemic. In doing so I hope that anyone else who still is or who has also gone through it, knows that how they’re feeling is kinda normal for what we’ve experienced. That any worries, feelings or even emotions they feel is even more so normal than ever before!
So let’s start with when the pandemic really started to become clear to everyone that it was a pandemic…
We had our gender reveal with family and friends around us on March 1st 2020, was in London March 7th-9th and then March 16th I was working from home and in Social Isolation as I was considered vulnerable to coronavirus due to being pregnant and vulnerable to bacterial pnuemonia. By Wednesday 18th March my fiancé was sent home early from work due to my vulnerability status and then on the evening lockdown was announced. From then on every appointment I had related to my pregnancy I attended alone, and I had a few due to being considered high risk due to rhuematology medical issues (Hypermobility, Fibromyalgia and my spinal issues).
In total we had 2 telephone appointments with my consultant, 1 telephone appointment with the anaesthetist, 1 diabetes check, 2 midwife appointments, 2 scans, 1 covid test and 2 hospital visits . Minus the telephone appointments I had to physically attend every appointment/visit alone. Whether my partner was sat in my car waiting for me or whether one of our parents came to either take me or keep him company in the car, I was in the appointment/visit physically alone. Disclaimer; after a certain point you are unable to drive during pregnancy, I am the only driver in our house, so for the safety of myself and our unborn child we had to ask for help from our parents when I needed to attend appointments. Minus our father’s working, our moms were home and isolated to protect us and our siblings.
Now not every pregnancy is the same, and not every pregnancy with the same medical conditions as I have is the same. However, typically new expecting parents will have a lot of questions, concerns and queries. Its natural, this is your first time so you will have all of this as well as a lot of emotions. Now my pregnancy wasn’t too bad, I did struggle towards the end with my body and its limitations and I did have real bad sickness and queasiness throughout, but nothing was more challenging than the mental aspect of pregnancy and pregnancy in isolation.
Truthfully, I have always had anxiety. I have situation based usually, which makes it incredibly difficult to meet new people, go new places, go to new restaurants, travel via train and plane and well a lot of things. As soon as my pregnancy stated to develop more and more, my anxiety got stronger and stronger. I was now fearing the drive to and from work, due to previously having a very small bump on the motorway a year before. Add in being anxious about my health anyway, now an unknown virus and being labelled vulnerable. I was struggling. I am very lucky that my partner is very good at respecting my anxiety and supporting me, that my team were available to talk to and every morning we had team catch ups to make sure as a team we were okay and if not we had the support we needed. But also THANK the heavens that there is such a thing as video calling. I would video call my mom or my best friend when I felt I needed help, and now I’m stuck in a habit of video calling my mom daily because it has became a coping mechanism. So why am I telling you all this? Well it’s simple really, being an already anxious person and now being pregnant and pregnant during a worldwide pandemic having to attend appointments alone was incredibly hard!
Personally I feel that the mental health side of pregnancy isn’t very spoken about anyway. You go through a lot of changes during pregnancy with your body, and a good chunk of them is related to your hormones. Hormone changes can contribute to your mental health, as much as physical changes to your body can. For example, if you’ve struggled with body image you may struggle with the fact you are getting larger as the baby gets bigger. This isn’t something to be ashamed off and you definitely shouldn’t feel guilty either. Pregnancy can be the most beautiful thing but also the most challenging, and I hope that the mental health side of it can be spoken about more and be naturally discussed like the physical changes are.
So moving on from the announcement we were going into Lockdown, this meant all appointments now would follow the similar pattern of being alone and feeling confused. I would go into my appointments with all these questions in my head that we both wanted answering, but the anxiety would take over and id walk out with no answers. Even if I wrote them down on my phone, I’d say a good 8/10 questions were unanswered because I hadn’t asked them. I would feel incredibly sad watching our baby wriggling around on the screen at scans because I was the only one seeing it, as unfortunately the NHS doesn’t allow you to record your scans. Id feel a heavy feeling walking out with only a picture of a baby foot because little one hadn’t kept still for a full body shot. I dreaded going to midwife appointments because I just felt so deflated.
Then we have the scares. We had two in total; one where baby hadn’t moved all day and he was usually a very active baby. This was around the end of March. I have never felt fear like it in my life, as you will automatically think the worst. I rung my triage, could barely speak, but they said to come in and after pulling myself together (with my partners help) I drove us the the hospital. As I walked in the usual thoughts crossed my mind, I hope baby is okay. But then due to being in a pandemic and super anxious, I had the terrifying thoughts of ‘what if baby isn’t okay, how do I tell his dad over a text or over the phone that something has happened’, ‘how will he get home if I have to stay in’, ‘what if this is all over and I’m here alone and can’t even tell my partner this journey has ended’. I am absolutely grateful that baby was fine, he started wriggling around the minute they put the monitors on and all stats were fine so I was allowed to go home. But those thoughts shouldn’t be something we have to experience, but unfortunately due to what’s happening with coronavirus I know I’m not the only one who has had to think like that. And unfortunately I know there’s people out there who had to experience those thoughts as an awful reality. Our second scare was around May/June time. I had bad pains in my lower stomach and pelvic area, so we went to a different hospital with my mother-in-law taking us this time as I could no longer drive and to keep my partner company so he wasn’t alone. Tests were run and it was ruled as normal pains, I presume pelvic girdle as a few weeks later I was told that’s what I was suffering with. Again those thoughts creep in, but this time it was ‘what if this is premature labour’, ‘how does this work during a pandemic, like when does my partner get to come in’, and ‘what if something awful happens’. Again all thoughts I had alone in a hospital bed with only the bleeping of the monitors attached to me for baby keeping me company.
Then we had labour… I went naturally into labour the evening before my induction, typical right, and went from nothing to 3cm quite quickly. Then from 3cm to 4cm even quicker. I was so grateful for this as at 3cm there were no beds on the ward and my partner couldn’t come in until I was in active labour. So once we went back to the hospital an hour after leaving, I was in active labour and moved to delivery with my partner meeting us there. Now we had come to terms with doing labour just us, but we hadn’t prepared for the possibility of hospital stays and separation. Something that since has been agreed shouldn’t have happened, but everything was so strange as again we were in the middle of a pandemic. This again for me was really hard, I was in a different hospital to my baby and alone. I, like all the other moms who have gave birth during the pandemic, had no visitors. Now normally I don’t mind my own company, but this was different. I was discharged the next day and man did I count down the minutes till I got to go into NICU at the other hospital and see my baby boy!
But NICU was just as lonely. We had to go in one at a time to see our boy, which led to us making the decision that I would stay with him for a large period of the day whilst my partner did errands. This was because I couldn’t really walk, having had a csection, and couldn’t do back and forth travelling to much due to how uncomfortable being in a car was. I was also in a lot of pain, very emotional (quite a usual reaction after just having a baby), and I was processing everything that had and was happening.
Once our boy came home things started to feel less lonely and more scary. I was a new mom, with a tiny baby who had struggled with breathing. My partner was a new dad, we were excited to be starting our new chapter as a family of three. But still surrounded by so much uncertainty due to coronavirus. After a few weeks things started to feel less lonely, we had started to get into the swing of things and due to a mixture of lockdown and me still being vulnerable, I had my partner around more than the month we had originally prepared for.
Months later and I can now safely say that despite the loneliness I truly believe we benefited from having time to ourselves with a new baby. It didn’t start straight away due to little ones health and my csection, but when it did happen it allowed us to learn and grow as a family together. And for that I am truly grateful that we were able to do that, thanks to the pandemic.
I would love to hear your experience of having a baby in a pandemic! Especially as pregnancy is different person to person, so please feel free to comment below x
The Unlucky Coeliac xo