There’s no denying that the past few weeks (and even months) have been a particularly unsettling time for everyone. Not only have our daily routines been well and truly shaken up beyond anything we’ve experienced before, but we’re living without the physical closeness of our support network, and without an end date in sight.
Whichever way you look at it, if it feels hard, it’s because it is.
I spoke to three women who started coronavirus lockdown at different stages in their pregnancies. Here they share their stories, fears and hopes for the future.
Sophie Bradbury-Cox, 32, is an administrator for a financial advisor and runs Instagram channel @fashionbelle. She gave birth to her first child – a daughter named Zyra – on 1st April 2020.
She says: ‘My immediate reaction when we went into lockdown was nervousness. Obviously nothing like this has ever happened before so I was unsure how it would affect the lead up to and the birth itself.’
‘I had a planned c-section which I had at 37 weeks; the hospital had advised all pregnant mothers that birthing partners wouldn’t be allowed on the ward at all because of the coronavirus risk.’
‘My situation was slightly different because I am disabled and my husband would need to help with caring for the baby and hoisting me as the hospital staff were not trained, so they allowed him on the labour ward with me and we were both quarantined to our room for the duration of our stay in hospital. We were allowed no visitors at all.’
‘We took in cleaning products, including anti-bacterial spray, wipes and hand gel. We cleaned all the surfaces in our room before we touched or sat on anything.’
‘It made me feel silly in all honesty, but I felt so paranoid that the cleaners may have missed something and due to the amount of people giving birth in the rooms, I just wanted to know we had done our bit to keep us as safe as possible.’
‘Being home has allowed us some much-needed time to get to grips with breastfeeding and her wants and needs without distractions. The only thing I wish was different is that family and friends could still meet and hold her. It’s heartbreaking that her grandparents etc won’t hold her until she is much older.’
‘We’re looking forward to visiting family and friends and taking her out for walks and day trips to the seaside when this is all over.’
Tyler Baker, 30, is a social worker and is currently eight months pregnant. Her first child is due at the end of May 2020.
She says: ‘Some days are good, some days are bloody awful! Some days I think about how much the labor part of my birth could be impacted by Covid-19 and this scares the crap out of me. Sometimes I am sad that I’ve been to a thousand of my friends’ baby showers and I will never have my own with my first… the cake, the decorations and the memories. Sometimes I miss actually being at work for the last few weeks until I go on maternity leave, or being able to just leave the house to have a cup of tea with a friend, other days I use Facetime really well and this settles my cravings for socialization.’
‘Things that would never usually knock me or make me upset seem to be doing that more easily in lockdown. For instance, my food shopping was cancelled on the day it was due to be delivered and this sent me into an utter meltdown – I mean snot-out-of nose-can’t-talk crying!’
‘My current and continued plan is to give birth at hospital, but I’ve come to terms with my partner only being there for active labor and just after the birth. The thought that if things don’t go right and I have to
stay in and he has to miss the first days with his newborn baby makes me super upset.’
‘I really want to be able share my baby with my friends and family. I know lots of people say the first few weeks are precious and that you don’t get enough time to yourselves with your baby, but when someone says that your newborn may not meet its nan and grandad for the foreseeable future, this puts things in perspective.’
‘I’d really like a “welcome to the world” party to replace my baby shower so I can get dressed up and make the memories I wanted to from the baby shower. I am also looking forwards to celebrating with a gin and lemonade!’
Mirlah, 31 is an Events and Marketing Director and part-time blogger at feelgoodmotherhood.co.uk. She is currently six months pregnant with her second child.
She says: ‘I feel like second time round there are a lot less routine appointments, so I feel like I’m being left to my own devices growing this baby. I have my 28 week appointment coming up very soon and so far they can’t say for certain whether it’s going ahead, but I know so many people who have attended scans alone or appointments have been cancelled.’
‘At times I feel a bit sad that we haven’t been able to enjoy these last few months as a three how we had planned. We’ve had trips cancelled but we’ve learnt to find happiness in the smallest of things; bumble bees in the garden, baking cakes and just generally being in each others company.’
‘It’s really hard not being around family during this time and as much as technology can connect us all, I just want a big fat hug. I’m such a positive person but this whole experience has really tested me.’
‘We sadly lost our auntie tragically in a car accident just before the lockdown and on top of everything else it catapulted me into a sea of overwhelming darkness.’
‘This whole situation is pretty incomprehensible and I’ve struggled with so many conflicting emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, confusion. It teaches you a lot about yourself though. It’s true what they say, it makes you stronger.’
‘I had my heart set on a home birth but with all that is going on right now, I know this may not happen. I flit from being sad to pragmatic about it all. Right now, I’m feeling very ‘Que Sera Sera’. I’m not due until July and I’m taking comfort in the fact that things are changing all the time and maybe, just maybe, this will be over by then?’
‘I just want to bring this baby into the world safely wherever that may be. I just keep imagining a long hot summer, baby in my arms and surrounded by family. This is going to sound so cheesy but I don’t care where we are I just want to be together and if it involves a nice coffee and cake then that would be pretty damn perfect too.’