Nobody ever thinks that they’re going to be pregnant during a global pandemic but many of us have found ourselves experiencing growing our babies in a scary, uncertain and unpredictable situation. I want to share with you my experiences, having been alone in lockdown for the final 8 weeks of my pregnancy (and then being induced and giving birth in the middle of the pandemic).
2020 held a lot of expectation for many of us who came into the year with a growing bump and promises of baby showers, gender reveals and shopping with friends and family for baby clothes and nursery furniture. This time was for some of us a first time experience and for others a once in a lifetime experience. Unlike a holiday or a wedding you can’t postpone it, you can’t pause it and wait until the world goes back to normal, it’s happening now and you have to adapt.
When the UK Guidelines were announced on 16th March I was 30 weeks pregnant, which, alongside having a kidney disease, made me high risk. I decided that I’d take my maternity leave a few weeks early as working in a Beauty Salon seemed to me like a dangerous place to be and I began isolating, alone in my apartment, to keep me and baby girl safe until this all blew over.
The first week was pretty normal, most other people were still working and I was enjoying time off from work with my bump which was now pretty big. I gave the apartment a good clean, watched lots of Netflix, FaceTimed my sister who lives in France and was already in lockdown in her campervan in a field near Limoges and carried on pretty normally.
The 23rd of March came and the rest of the country was put into a more serious lockdown. It felt surreal, a lot of people were working from home or furloughed, key workers were allowed to work but any non essential travel wasn’t allowed. I remember thinking it was fine, they’re keeping us safe for a few weeks and surely by June 1st when my little girl is due then this will all be a distant memory!
Well I was wrong.
The next few weeks were spent attending midwife appointments and growth scans wearing a face mask and gloves, with the midwife in full PPE. I was in fact in full makeup and a nice outfit showcasing my growing bump as this was the only time I went anywhere, to see anyone. The nice, friendly and relaxed midwife appointments that I’d experienced at the beginning of my pregnancy were a distant memory. Ann, my midwife, now felt like someone I should be wary of. I asked myself so many questions; could my midwife pose a risk to me or my baby? How many women has she seen today? Are those women key workers, are their partners key workers, are they working on the frontline in COVID-19 wards? It was scary, it was all unknown and it seemed so alien.
My growth scans (due to my kidney disease) at the antenatal department of the hospital which came alongside my consultant appointments were equally as strange; mask, gloves, hand sanitiser. The waiting room used to be full of couples excitedly waiting to see their baby for the first time or looking forward to finding out the health or gender of their baby, there were families who’d brought with them their older child/children to see their new sibling for the first time. A once busy, bustling area filled with anticipation, now consisted of scattered chairs, 2m apart and a reduced amount of appointments meaning far fewer people. The excitement that once filled the room had vanished, it was now a dull room with a handful of women sat alone wearing masks and gloves and a feeling that this wasn’t how it was meant to be.
Going into my first appointment since lockdown, my consultant who was a woman in her late 40’s who usually had on heels, a nice suit dress and her hair done was suddenly in scrubs, crocs, hair up and a mask on.
All of these changes were however necessary and most importantly I felt safe knowing that everything was being done to protect me and my baby. The appointments were important for mine and my baby’s health and were being conducted in the safest way possible to protect us from COVID-19.
The next few weeks were boring. There’s no other way to describe it. I made my babygirl some videos telling her about the situation, something we can hopefully look back on in years to come. I repacked my hospital bag numerous times, I made sure all of her beautiful little clothes were arranged in her draws, I facetimed my sister and friends and family and did my 1 hour walk each day.
My last appointment with my consultant on the 30th April I was given the option to be induced at 38 weeks which I agreed to. Monday 18th May I was to be induced. I was fed up of being pregnant, I trusted my consultants advice to induce labour and it also meant that my mum would be able to work from home and isolate leading up to this date to make sure she was safe to be around for the birth and after. It was also a relief for me to know that I had a certain date to meet my baby, and the days spent alone in my apartment we’re finally coming to an end. With just a few things left to prepare for the hospital, finally, the countdown to meeting my baby could begin…