By Rosie Wells
I was asked today to write down my experiences of having a ‘corona baby’ – a baby born in the middle of the lockdown period. l’ll start at the beginning.
My partner and I were over the moon when I fell pregnant. With two children already with my previous partner this new baby was going to be the final piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately my pregnancy was not straight forward and I was hit with extreme morning sickness which left me pretty much unable to do anything. The medicine got it under control to an extent in the third trimester and I kept on telling myself and the kids ‘this is temporary- things will get back to normal once the baby is here’. I then got hit with a virus towards the end of my pregnancy and for 8 weeks was passing out and unable to walk or do anything but again we thought as soon as this baby is here things will get back to normal.
I promised the kids trips to the beach and that I would pick them up from school with the baby in the pram, something I was unable to do with the sickness during pregnancy. The thing getting me through was the thought of maternity leave and time with my friends and family away from the stress of work. I am lucky that I have a very strong family network and also lucky that 3 of my friends were pregnant at the same time so we made our plans for baby dates and groups and coffee (wine) mornings round each others houses.
Due to the problems with the pregnancy and the fact the baby was measuring larger than average with increased amniotic fluids I was booked in for an early induction at 39 weeks. As with all my labour’s my mum was planning on being there with me and along my partner. However a week before I was due to be induced I was forwarded a screenshot from my friend staying that they would only allow one birth partner in the labour ward. To say I was devastated would be an understatment. I think I probably cried for 3 days and so did my mum. My birth plan was being completly ruined. I know it was selfish. I knew people were sick although I don’t think I knew the extent of the virus and the harm it would cause then. However, my sister reminded me of some of the positives of it just being myself and my partner in the room. My mum had never had a phone call to say her grandchild had arrived and she was going to be able to experience that now. It meant my children would be with my mum when I was in labour so I would be happier they were somewhere safe and myself and my partner would have a special moment with just the two of us. So although I would have been happier my mum being there I took the positives.
There were rumours the schools would shut but we all thought these were just rumours and they would be at least open until the Easter holidays so I was confident I would still be able to meet the children at the school with their new baby in the pram.
Even after discovering the schools would be shut and the social distancing measures put in place I still thought all, would be OK as my mum would still be allowed round and I would still be able to see friends at each others houses and we could all help, home school the kids . We had it all planned.
The day before I went into Darenth Valley Hospital to be induced lockdown was announced. Things started to feel a bit more real and I was suddenly terrified. All anyone was talking about was coronovirus. We went into the hospital and it was deadly quiet and very eerie. A security guard met us on the door and we had to show proof we were due to go into the labour ward. However once we got into maternity it was a very different story. It was calm and quiet but a happy and safe atmosphere. We were provided with a pass which meant that we could move out of the ward to go to the shops or leave the hospital – although this is discouraged. There wasn’t a constant bombardment of visitors in and out and everyone was just relaxed with thier one birth partner (well as relaxed as women in esrly labour can be) . There was an element of unease about everything as it was all, so new and the midwifes were doing every thing they could to reasurre us all. Guidelines were changing by the hour but they kept us well informed. After labour and discovering our new baby was a boy it was even nicer to not be allowed visitors in the ward. Yes I was a bit sad the kids couldn’t meet their new baby brother at the hospital but I couldn’t wait to get home and introduce them to Rex in the comfort of their own home. The after birth experience was by far the best of all 3 of my children. Everyone seemed more relaxed. I’ve always thought how unsettling it must be for new mums who didn’t have any one to visit them to suddenly have a whole family and kids in the bed next to them Ccoing over the new baby while they say alone. After we are out of the worst of this I wouldn’t be surprised if the visiting rules were kept. I could relax and get to know my new baby in a quiet ward and it was lovely. I made all my phone calls and let everyone know we had a new son. The midwifes said they preferred it without visitors as they could focus on the new mum and baby.
The part I found scary was when they discharged us. Everything was different and the midwifes were still unsure on what would be happening. I was told a midwife may visit or she may phone. They were unsure whether I could register my baby officially and basically just said things may change. So I left with an open mind that we may be on our own once we got home.
I got home and was lucky enough that social distancing measures were in place but we weren’t in lockdown. It was a sad day as schools had closed and everyone seemed a bit lost. But Rex entering our home made everything seem OK again. The children were so excited to meet him and I’m very lucky that my mum got to meet him in real life.
Everyone was planning when they would come over and we had lots of dates on the diary to introduce Rex to his new family and friends. The next day the midwife visited and she helped keep my spirits up. But then came the speech from The Prime Minister when we were told lockdown measures would be put in place. This probably couldn’t have come at a worse time – day 3 when baby blues kick in. From that day on it seemed that Rex was forgotton and so was I. In a house so full up of kids and my partner I had never felt so lonely and lost. I had a new baby and I was now told I couldnt see anyone or leave the house. All those visits I had planned cancelled. No walking my pram though the streets with my baby. Everyone had their own worries and their own stresses going on and no one had time to admire my baby. And yes that’s selfish but this was going to be my last baby my last chance for this and I felt it was being stolen from me. I wanted to scream to people to stop talking about coronovirus and talk about my baby instead and ask how he slept or how I was doing but nobody did. However I decided social media is a great way to show off Rex. As someone who doesn’t overshare on facebook I found I felt much better after posting a picture of Rex and it getting lots of comments and likes and I felt that was my communication with the world.
The midwife finished her visits but there was a marked visit from visit one where she entered the house in ordinary clothing and the final visit where she was wearing masks, gloves and aprons and then everything felt more real. However scary it was, it still the same midwife who we laughed with on the first day and she was as happy and kind as when we first met her. The support is still there albeit mostly on the phone but there is still 24 hour access to support.
The health visitor rang to say she would not be visiting and a phone call would happen instead. The phone call lasted about 45 minutes and they were supportive but its a shame to not have a face to face as a new mum as even small interactions can be a nice distraction. I did however get booked on to see a midwife to check Rex’s weight at the health visitor when he is 4 weeks old as he hasn’t regained his birth weight and is still slightly jaundice.
Never did I imagine when I fell pregnant that the first time my dad would meet his grandson would be through a window however sad this made me feel I thought of the stories we could tell Rex when he is older and I have to remember this is not forever.
So do I feel negative now 3 weeks into lockdown with a 3 week old? Surprisingly no. The time together with my partner and children to bond has been lovely. I’ve spent more time cuddling Rex than I did with any of my other children and I have rested more so my body has recovered a lot quicker. Yes I’m exhausted probably more than I would normally be as I’m home schooling two children whilst getting used to life with a newborn and I miss my family and friends more than I ever could have imagined but we are taking every day as it comes – doing craft, DIY around the house and jobs we never thought we would get done. Small things now make me so much happier. The other day the postman knocked and noticed Rex and we had a good talk about him while she admired him and it made my day. I take my pram out for exercise although we don’t go every day but every day I take the pram into the garden so I still get to use it. I’ve also come to look forward to the Thursday clap for NHS. The meaning behind it is great but in all honesty it’s the time of the week where I bring Rex out and all my neighbours ask how he is and I update them from a distance. I facetime my family and friends every day and we spend a lot of time planning what we are doing when lockdown is released. We have planned catch ups and a big welcome to the world party so everyone can finally meet him without a pane of glass between us.