HAVING A BABY IN A PANDEMIC

EMOTIONAL, HEALTH, MOTHER OF ALL LISTS, MOTHERHOOD, PREGNANCY, BIRTH & BABY'S

Weirdly, this one made me cry. Been trying to put my finger on why? The very short sentences here, remind me of when I started Mother of All Lists, almost 6 years ago. I had two kids under two and started jotting my thoughts down in bullet points on ‘notes’ while breastfeeding. Somehow the journalling style felt easier than full paragraphs and getting it out of my head and onto the screen helped make sense of how upside life felt.

And then imagine feeling all of that but in the middle of a pandemic? Thank you, Samantha, for somehow managing to articulate the unique experience of what not just having a baby, but having your first baby in a pandemic is like.

  • I am the mother of a pandemic baby, I am stronger than ever before.

  • I am the mother of a pandemic baby, I am stronger than ever before.

  • I am the mother of a pandemic baby, I am stronger than ever before.

  • I had to write that out a few times.

  • I was told going into Motherhood to surround yourself with people.

  • It’s important as a new Mother.

  • “Stay social.”

  • “Make sure you let people hold your baby.”

  • “It’s good for their immune systems.”

  • They said.

  • That advice is true.

  • I just never knew how important it would really be.

  • Alex had surprised me with a weekend away, Positano, Italy.

  • Trip of a lifetime.

  • Dream.

  • Driving around the winding roads of the Amalfi Coast.

  • Aperol Spritz for breakfast.

  • The kind of trip you want to do with your partner in crime.

  • The last hurrah!

  • But the funny thing was, I’d given up alcohol & coffee two weeks prior to the trip.

  • Didn’t even have the obligatory airport £10 Bloody Mary.

  • I knew before I knew.

  • You do just know.

  • Anyway.

  • It’s my Birthday morning.

  • Balloons & confetti littered the bedroom floor.

  • Lavish breakfast on route.

  • He does know how to spoil me.

  • And I was really annoyed I was in Italy and was refusing to drink.

  • I did a test, the one I’d secretly packed in my suitcase.

  • I thought.

  • Positive = A baby.

  • Negative = APEROL SPRITZ FOR BREAKFAST.

  • Win win.

  • Now the dreaded wait…

  • I couldn’t bear to look at it.

  • So, Alex did.

  • It felt like an eternity.

  • He told me I was going to be a great Mother.

  • A gift I was born for.

  • A gift I’d longed for.

  • 2 blue lines.

  • Positive.

  • 2-4 weeks.

  • We cried & embraced.

  • Cloud 9.

  • Our hopes had come true with just another morning pee.

  • We’d imagined what life was going to be like, me being pregnant, life as a little trio, oh the things we’d do!

  • Never, did we imagine what was just around the corner? Ever.

  • I don’t think anyone could have imagined it.

  • “Blow over in a few weeks?”

  • “Yeah, course it will”

  • We got to the painfully long-awaited 12 week/tell the world your pregnant scan.

  • It’s so long from the test to the scan.

  • We saw our baby; it really was real.

  • Little did we know, it was the only scan or appointment we’d make together, our little trio was now a duo.

  • To go it alone.

  • It’s early March, I’m 6 months pregnant and the commute is becoming a struggle.

  • So tired.

  • It was only until Boris announced pregnant woman in their 3rd tri were now on the shielding list, that it really sunk in that this was becoming quite a serious situation.

  • The next day I cleared out my locker, said goodbye prematurely to my wonderful colleagues & left for home.

  • Here I have remained, Matilda has just turned 7 months. Yep…

  • I felt excited to spend my days working from home, resting almost. No commute. I felt blessed & cursed at the same time.

  • It all happened so suddenly.

  • I couldn’t shift that undeniable ache in my heart, I knew things were going to change but I couldn’t accept it.

  • BOOM.

  • LOCKDOWN in full swing.

  • How on earth was this happening to the world?

  • Life as normal was no more.

  • My birthing ball in full bounce mode.

  • Fans cranked up to the max, it was 30 odd degrees.

  • It was a hot Summer at least.

  • All I want to do is eat sugar.

  • Any form, honey or peanut butter

  • HAD to be straight from the jar.

  • It tasted better.

  • I remember doing this as a kid.

  • Alex was furloughed, was this a dream? We spent the 3rd trimester, together.

  • Things felt good.

  • I didn’t like to admit it because I was aware of the struggles people were facing.

  • But we thought to make the most of it.

  • Amidst the chaos unfolding before us, we became closer than ever.

  • Never to have that time again.

  • We cherished every moment.

  • We planned.

  • Bought.

  • Built.

  • Studied.

  • I dreaded his return to work. Surprisingly.

  • We’d booked NCT ages before news of the virus. Slowly but surely, things started changing around us.

  • I’d never even heard of Zoom.

  • We’d booked my baby shower,

  • Cancelled. Zoom.

  • ARRRGHHH! Why me?! Why my baby?! Why the year I’ve fallen pregnant?!

  • This is a significant flaw of mine, being a Virgo.

  • Perfection is everything

  • Overthinking is tiring

  • This was messing with my plans.

  • My plans that I’d planned and then planned again

  • I remember as my due date approached, I started crying a lot

  • The worry about going into Hospital.

  • Alone.

  • We did hypnobirthing so having Alex with me was important

  • Without him, how was I supposed to get into the zone?

  • I needed him.

  • The Hospitals were tightening restrictions.

  • Could I do this alone?!

  • I knew partners that had missed the birth of their own child.

  • So many thoughts and questions.

  • What happens if I contract the virus? Will it harm my baby?

  • No data.

  • A brand-new virus.

  • Nobody had any answers.

  • I realized I was starting to feel selfish.

  • Hard done by.

  • Sorry for myself.

  • Sorry for my unborn baby.

  • Robbed. I wasn’t fond of the emotions that I was having, there were people dying!

  • NCT.

  • Cancelled

  • Zoom.

  • Great.

  • Brilliant.

  • Meeting our “parent friends for life” the reason we even joined up.

  • We felt incredibly nervous, more nervous than I think we would have had we met face to face.

  • Although, we felt reassured that we weren’t the only parents feeling frustrated & nervous.

  • They have gone from 6 strangers to 6 of my absolute go-to Mama’s.

  • Zoom became like normal after a while.

  • 9 days overdue.

  • Maybe she’d heard the warnings – “STAY INSIDE!”

  • Labour.

  • 24hrs later.

  • I was taken from the birth pool.

  • Midwives advise that we move to theatre.

  • Wearing a mask, in theatre.

  • Will I even be able to kiss my baby?

  • Everyone was in a mask, full PPE.

  • All I could see were eyes

  • Shades of blue, rushing around me.

  • But to be honest, it wasn’t scary

  • I get asked about that a lot

  • “How was the hospital?” “How were the midwives?”

  • My reply is always the same,

  • “They still showed up and delivered my baby, kept us safe”

  • That’s all I ever needed and wanted

  • I remember being in a type of hysteria when they put our baby on my tummy.

  • I shouted at the doctor to stop & that I wanted Alex to tell me the gender of our baby. He wailed that it was a baby girl.

  • Throughout the pregnancy, I’d said I didn’t mind.

  • Deep down, I wanted a girl. We wanted a girl.

  • As a step mum, I wanted to give that gift to Eva.

  • I wanted Eva to have a Sister.

  • A true friend for life, that unbreakable Sisterhood.

  • The bond that never breaks.

  • My gosh I miss mine.

  • We introduced Matilda Joy Collins, to the world. 

  • She became more to me in that moment than I ever imagined.

  • All the fear, worry, upset, what if’s

  • Gone in a flash.

  • What lockdown? What virus? She was here and nothing could touch us at that moment.

  • She was now my reason

  • The purpose of my life I had been missing for so long.

  • I breastfed my baby for the first time and I cried (not because of the pain, wow) but because I had dreamt of feeding my baby for several years.

  • I handed her to Alex who used his time for skin to skin. 2 hours felt like 2 seconds.

  • Asked to leave.

  • He was gone.

  • Matilda & I had Covid tests.

  • I opted for a private room. I thought it’s best to be away from anyone that might pose a risk.

  • I had to protect her.

  • I was suddenly all alone with my baby.

  • I felt surprisingly calm, in fact, I’d been quite calm throughout the pregnancy.

  • But my anxiety was still lurking

  • What the hell do I do now? No sleep, barely any food, what did that book say to do again?! Where is Alex!!

  • My Mum & Sister came over the evening after Matilda’s birth, once we were home.

  • Neither of them held my baby.

  • After that, my Dad & Alex’s’ close family visited, nobody held Matilda.

  • How was this happening?

  • I didn’t want anyone near us but equally and desperately wanted everyone near us.

  • Lockdown 2.0 was a bit of a blur.

  • I remember baby classes were stopping & starting.

  • Getting out to baby class was the highlight of all our weeks.

  • We missed cake & coffee.

  • We missed people, we all missed each other.

  • More announcements.

  • Heartbroken about Christmas.

  • But ultimately, we have our baby and our health.

  • That’s what I kept telling myself

  • I am now writing this during Lockdown 3.0

  • Embracing the mess.

  • The improvisation of made-up songs & all the toys.

  • But then also just accepting a wooden toothbrush is all she actually wants.

  • At peace with what’s happening

  • It took me a while to stop feeling so upset and angry

  • To look inwards, be grateful for the small things

  • Stop worrying about damn cake & coffee.

  • The death toll keeps rising,

  • Amidst my own struggles, I sometimes forget every added number is a person.

  • Be grateful for the people on the frontline

  • GP.

  • Midwives.

  • Health Visitors.

  • Compassion.

  • Love.

  • Gratitude.

  • I remember I clapped without fail.

  • Clapping made me feel united.

  • Connected at my core with humanity.

  • We were all in this together.

  • We all need to come together and fight this.

  • For our own freedom.

  • I have learnt more about myself during this time than ever before.

  • I changed my outlook.

  • I accepted that it’s ok to feel sad sometimes.

  • You need to feel sad sometimes in order to recognize what happy is.

  • I’ve bonded with my baby beyond words.

  • I’ve also wanted to scream into a pillow beyond words.

  • The isolation is intense.

  • The walks keep me going.

  • The coffee morning zooms with the yoga girls keep me sane.

  • The days are long and sometimes lonely.

  • That’s why building a network of mums early on is so important.

  • I’m navigating motherhood alongside some of the strongest women I know.

  • We are bound together by 2020.

  • Bound by COVID.

  • One day we will hold each other’s babies for the first time.

  • One day we will hug each other.

  • If I’ve learnt anything it’s how to love myself.

  • It’s how to recognize selfish thoughts.

  • It’s how to flip that mindset.

  • Putting others first is a Mother’s DNA.

  • I am doing it, I am being a Mother.

  • It’s how to crawl back to the light in your lowest moments.

  • It’s how to swallow the bad experiences.

  • It’s how to digest them properly.

  • It’s how to really weigh up what matters to you.

  • Life will resume.

  • And that Cake is going to be the best damn cake we have ever eaten.

  • To all the Mothers,

  • The trying mothers,

  • Expectant mothers.

  • The new mothers.

  • I salute every single one of you.

  • And to Matilda,

  • Our pandemic baby.

  • Thank you for saving me.

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2 Comments

  • Reply E January 17, 2021 at 8:54 am

    Has definitely been a hard time to have a baby. My little boy was born in April , right at the beginning of lockdown one. He ended up in intensive care for 4 days. I was there all alone. It was horrendous. Made all the more horrendous that in the January when I was 30 weeks pregnant (he’s my third) I found out that my husband of 14 years was having an affair and he left us. I was alone. Very very alone. It’s been a horrendous year. I’m now at home with my 9 year old, 6 year old old and 9 month old trying to homeschool on my own.

    • Reply Charlotte January 17, 2021 at 10:28 am

      Oh E, sending so much love and strength. I can’t even imagine what you’ve been through. It’s been a really tough time, hang on in there – it will get better for you. Xxxxxx

    Leave a Reply to E Cancel Reply