On having a COVID-19 baby…

by Apr 22, 2020 | First published in 2020Personal journal

There seems to be a huge spectrum when it comes to Coronavirus and how it is affecting people. On one end are those who have had their lives completely turned upside down. And on the other are those sharing memes along the lines of ‘we’re just being asked to sit and watch Netflix’.

My business is in tatters. While there’s hope for 3 months pay at 80% the reality is I’m now almost up to a full year of lost income. My gut is telling me it’ll be even more than that – this is not a good time to be running a boutique travel business!

It’s not just the financial hit. I’ve been planning 2020’s projects for a long time and it’s been painful unravelling all my hard work.  I’ve got more unravelling to do but I need to sit and wait now until we have more information. It’s a strain. Making tough decisions and having to be the one to deliver bad news to staff and clients – most are understanding but not all. I feel like an artist watching my art go up in flames.

And with that also went my maternity plans. The security net that would allow me to take some time off to be a first-time mum when the baby comes in less than 2 months time (please come late!).

It feels like a ticking time-bomb. Everything is already so unnerving and such a mess. This doesn’t feel like the time to add newborn to the mix. I’m feeling worried and distracted, robbed of what would have been a happy time for us.

There are lots of changes to the pregnancy of course. Birthing options and appointments reduced. Partners can’t join appointments or scans. Going to the unit is when Coronavirus feels most real. My husband stays in the car and I feel like I’m entering that science scene from ET – questions, temperature checks and handwashing stations with people in head to toe PPE before I’ve even got through the door.

My midwife warned me if either of us show symptoms or the unit comes under stress they may not allow a birthing partner. ‘You won’t be alone though, you’ll have us’. All I see is a strip of eyes, I wouldn’t recognise my midwife if I passed her in the street.

I feel a lurch of pain for all those sick in hospital, alone, with just a blue mask looking back at them.

I listen to my baby’s heartbeat, ask my questions and return to my husband. We both pretend we are ok with it for the sake of the other.

The hardest is the isolation. I really struggle with this and as a ‘vulnerable’ person it’s only just started. We moved to an area where we know nobody 2 days before isolation – lucky in some ways but not in others. It’s hard settling and getting ready for a baby when you can’t pop to the shops or meet people. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in an Airbnb rental. They say it’s easy to make friends with a baby. But will that be the case post-COVID? Will people be looking for new friends or will they just want to spend as much time with their old ones?

My pregnancy is so lonely. No one will feel my baby kicking or see me growing. I don’t get the ladies chatting to me in supermarkets telling me ‘that’s definitely a boy because you’re not showing from behind’. I can’t meet other expecting mums or do my NCT course or eat too much cake over coffee catch-ups. I won’t get to go swimming once, I don’t know why I was looking forward to that so much but I was.

And of course, babies are to be shared. I want Gil’s family to be able to fly over to meet the new arrival, to see my sister, mum, friends giving cuddles. That’s a sad thought. How long will this distancing go on for? My family is working on the frontline so the risk is higher.

My body is sore and uncomfortable and I’m trying to stay mobile and healthy but it’s hard when I’m sat down most of the day. Joe Wicks can’t help me on this one. I do some fruitless hip swings when I waddle to the toilet but motivation is low. I feel guilty about my anxiety levels and sugar-fuelled emotional eating.

Everyone keeps advising me to just tune out from it all. But how? My emotions are so acutely heightened – is this Coronavirus or the pregnancy? Probably both. I don’t watch the news but the stories still reach me. It’s like Facebook chooses the ones that will sting the most. Like Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong. That one hurt. 

Of course, I don’t want to get the virus and I’ll do anything to protect my unborn baby but the worry I feel is not just for us. It’s for others. All the Mary’s and their families. The isolated and lonely. And what about the poor in other countries. At least we have the NHS and government support. I so want to help, to hug those who need it, but there’s nothing I can do.

There’s never a good time to have a baby, sure, but when I saw an article predicting an increase in pregnancies during lockdown this really confused me. Each new pregnancy another strain on the midwife unit and a risk to the staff who work there. I can’t understand why anyone would choose to give birth in this uncertain mess.

The default advice is to stay positive. Maybe this will be a good thing in the end. Maybe we’ll now be amazing mindful parents. Or maybe we’ll just be fraught, stressed and under financial pressure. Maybe we’ll have an extra special bond because of all the time alone. Or maybe we’ll be emotionally drained, stuck with a clingy child. It could be worse…..well, at least that point is always true!

I’ve accepted it. That’s all we can do. Although I don’t have to like it. I’m sorry little one that you are going to be born into such turmoil. 

It wasn’t meant to be this way!

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