Pregnant in a Pandemic

Covid. A five-letter word no one knew existed a little over a year ago. A word that now controls the majority of our lives. 

Discovering that you’re pregnant during a pandemic is a total rollercoaster of emotions. There’s wearing the masks to all scans and appointments, having to break this massive news to your family over a phone call, and having to buy everything off the internet because no shops are open. This is all before the fact that you’re responsible of trying to grow a healthy baby while the world implodes in front of your eyes! 

I feel utter jealousy towards mamas that have welcomed their baby into a world pre-covid, and I feel jealousy towards the mams that will give birth when the world goes back to a new sense of normal. My first experience of being a mother will never be close to how I imagined which is a bitter pill to swallow.

Back in August when I first saw the positive test, I felt sheer excitement at the prospect of bringing a person into the world which is half me and my partner. But quickly, this feeling was overshadowed by feelings of anxiety. “How am I meant to be happy when so many people are going through such a crappy time? How am I supposed to protect my child from this virus? What if he/she won’t be able to meet their grandparents for months after being born?” These are all thoughts that a woman shouldn’t have after finding out such magical news. 

The first scan 

Different to other couples, we were very fortunate that Danny could come to every scan. I’m so grateful that he was able to share the experience of seeing our child for the first time, but I always think about how lonely I felt when waiting in the reception for my name to be called. Waiting to see your child for the first time is such a daunting experience and the only thing that would have helped at that time was if he was there to hold my hand.  

This infuriated me! There Danny was, having to wait in the car for my phone call – probably papping his pants at this point – and me sick as a dog in the reception thinking about all the things they could say, and whilst all of this was happening, every Tom, Dick and Harry were mingling and galivanting around different pubs with little to no restrictions!  

Baby preparation 

It’s easy enough to assume that this only affects the mam and dad, but there are so many other people involved in a pregnancy. Some of these are the little one’s grandparents. Babi G will be the first grandchild on both sides, so the whole process is new to everyone.  

I remember mam telling me how sad she was that we’ll miss out on experiences that a mother and daughter go through when the daughter’s pregnant. It’s just little things like going for days out and shopping for all things baby, going out for lunch and just enjoying the few weeks as mam and daughter before we turn into nain (grandma in Welsh) and mam. 

A lot of mams-to-be make friends during their pregnancy by attending antenatal classes. It’s a chance for parents to bond in their worries and experiences. Someone to listen to and to understand your problems. Yes, there are still antenatal classes available over Zoom and videocall, but the socialisation element has been stripped away which is one of the most important points of the classes. 

Changing a nappy. CPR on a baby. How to dress your child for different weather. How to write a birth plan. These are all things that you learn in a class. It’s a chance for you to ask questions and to strengthen the bond with your partner. But, instead of this, we have to learn all these things on the internet and by reading books.  

I’ve never been one for big celebrations (a bit of a hermit really…) but two things I was really looking forward for were my baby shower and the little one’s gender reveal. I’m extremely lucky to have a group of such amazing friends who arranged a little afternoon tea for me in November (when four households could socialise) after I found out that we were having a boy.

We’re now in ANOTHER lockdown (3.0 FML) and I’m 33 weeks pregnant with restrictions still in place for another two weeks, therefore the chance of me having a baby shower has well and truly gone down the drain. Oh well, the only thing that matters are that restrictions will hopefully loosen by the time our little man arrives and family and friends will be able to meet my son (that’s what I keep repeating to myself when I’m on the verge of having my 10th breakdown of the day…).

Maternity Leave 

I’m down to my last 13 workdays (not that I’m counting down…) until I start my maternity leave. Before covid, I’d be looking forward to being able to go out for lunch with friends during the week, taking the dogs for walks to different places, shopping for baby stuff and my hospital bag essentials, all whilst counting down the days until our little boy is in our arms. But I must admit, although I’m physically and mentally ready for the leave to begin, there’s a sense of worry in the back of my mind. I’m scared of the loneliness that’ll come with being pregnant in a pandemic. The maternity leave I imagined has been completely wiped and instead, I’ll be stuck in the house from day to day with nowhere to go. As a pregnant woman, I am deemed clinically vulnerable which means that socialising should be kept to a minimum. I’m just lucky I’ve started this blog to keep me occupied before the new baby tornado sweeps me off my feet! 

Being realistic 

When I saw the positive pregnancy test in August (after the first lockdown and in the middle of Eat out to Help Out) there was hope (maybe naively) that I’d be able to have a normal birth, but the recent lockdown makes this seem more and more like a dream.  

Due to the current restrictions, a partner is only allowed to join the woman for the labour when she has dilated 3cm, which is active labour. This is something I’ve never been able to wrap my head around. I don’t know which part of the government decided that 1-3cm is a complete no-go, but anything past that is as safe as can be!!  

The NHS have been heroes, especially throughout this pandemic, and every single midwife and doctor that I have met have been excellent. I can’t even bare to think how scary it is leaving your families every day to arrive at your work place that is rife with a deadly virus, all just to take care of patients like myself. For this, I’ll be forever grateful. THANKS, NHS. 

There are still so many questions about the whole process. Will Danny be allowed to stay with me for the whole labour, or just… the main event? Will he be able to stay with me and his new-born son for longer than five minutes, or will he be chucked out and leave me to look after a completely new person (not to mention how drugged up I’ll be)? Will my child think that his family have masks as mouths? 

At the moment, I don’t have answers for these questions. But one thing that’s keeping me going is knowing that I’ll be meeting my son in around seven weeks. I’ve often heard mothers say that their children have lit their lives up when they didn’t know they needed lighting and I always felt it was a bit of a cliché. But I’ll forever be in his debt for choosing me to become his mother and to feel him grow inside of me, in a year that is filled with such pain and heartache. And that, is why my days will always be lit up from now on.  

Speak soon, 

Annest x 

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