T hree months into our little mans life I thought I better sit myself down and get writing his birth story, for the sole reason that I think birth is amazing and I don’t ever want to forget a moment! As eye-watering as it is, I find it utterly incredible that we can grow humans inside our bodies and I will be forever in awe of the female body and what it can achieve! Plus this was a lockdown baby and so was a little special in its very own way. Pregnant through covid
But where do I start? Being pregnant through a global pandemic was definitely a unique experience and something I wont be forgetting in a hurry, so perhaps I should start from the beginning but skip through the months to make it snappy. pregnant through Covid
We found out we were pregnant with Dougie on the day Boris announced that pregnant people should be screening. I think this was a couple of days before full lockdown. I actually had no idea I was pregnant. We knew we wanted a third child but were going to leave it a little bit longer between Ollie and the next one because the two year gap between Ollie and Ettie had been pretty full on! (I can’t help laughing as I write that now). Anyway I wasn’t counting down the days to my period but I was roughly aware that I could be a couple of days late. I’d been for a day out into Lewes with Ettie and Ollie and kept thinking to myself how amazing it would be if I was actually pregnant because I wouldn’t have had any of the worry associated with ‘trying’ – but realistically I thought I couldn’t be. When Boris gave the news about pregnant people that evening, I remembered we had a couple of old tests sitting in the bathroom cupboard from when we were trying for Ollie, so I thought I’d take one, just to be on the safe side. I took it and came down to show Stu – but no lines appeared, not even the test line. Stu was convinced this meant it was negative, but realistically I knew the test hadn’t worked and I still had a ‘feeling’, so I waited to do another the next morning. This time there was no mistaking it. I was pregnant at the start of a global pandemic!!
Pregnant Through Covid
I think I went into shock initially, not only because I wasn’t expecting it, but also because I wasn’t really sure what it all meant? Would it be ok to be pregnant through Covid 19? How risky would it be? Would my baby be affected? Was there a chance I could loose it? With all those thoughts running through my head, I decided overnight that I was going to stay indoors for the next 12 weeks to be on the safe side, but when I started to tell people of my intentions, a few got suspicious. I was using the excuse that Stu was a plumber going in and out of peoples houses and so I wanted to reduce his risk of catching it – but when that excuse didn’t seem to be working, I just avoided speaking to people and silently stayed indoors whenever I could.
After a week of staying indoors I realised how hard it was going to be – especially with two children under four!! The house was getting destroyed and my energy was depleting fast!! One of reasons I hadn’t thought I wasn’t pregnant was because I wasn’t experiencing any symptoms. I felt tired with Ollie very early on, and so i thought that would be a sure sign if I was – so when I felt OK this time, I just assumed I couldn’t be pregnant. But oh my goodness I was wrong about that!!
Within a week or two of me getting the double blue line on my test, the tiredness kicked in and boy oh boy did I feel tired. I had moments in the day where I just couldn’t keep my eyes open and regularly fell asleep on the sofa mid way through reading a book with Ettie or playing a game with Ollie. Luckily we’d entered into full lockdown by then so Stu was only working on emergency jobs, meaning he was around at home more to help with Ettie and Ollie. We worked it that he would stay home on the days where I was due to be in the office – but because of lockdown I was actually working from home from our third floor and so would have a little sleep in my lunch break. These were actually my rest days where I would catch up on sleep because the remaining three days when Stu wasn’t at home, I didn’t know if I was coming or going!!
The first thing that started was my heightened sense of smell. I was working for Bloom and Wild at the time so had beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers being delivered every couple of weeks which really brightened up the house – however once those flowers started to be past their best, the smell coming off the stems in the water would make me gag so much I had to run out into the garden for fresh air. It got to the point that I would be scared to change the water – hoping someone else would come and do it for me – but obviously not one did and so every couple of weeks I’d have to take a deep breath, yank the dying flowers from their vase, run them out to the green bin in the back garden and then vomit into the bin or flower beds because the smell had made me feel so ill! (even though neither Stuart or the kids could smell anything).
The second smell I couldn’t stand was the dishwasher – now this one is crazy because I haven’t been able to smell the dishwasher ever since Dougie was born, but while he was in my tummy if there were things left in there for a couple of hours and it hadn’t had a rinse, if someone opened the door then the smell would be so disgusting I would gag – even if I was upstairs on the second floor!! It got to the point towards the end of my pregnancy that I would have to run outside whenever Stu opened the dishwasher door and Ettie used to laugh and say so matter of factly that ‘Mummy’s gone in the garden to be sick because Daddy opened the dishwasher’. It was so ridiculous but also so rank, my stomach would literally convulse – ukkk
The third thing that would make me ill – which is probably more understandable was the toilet. Obviously toilets in themselves are a bit rank, but we had one with a wooden toilet seat at the time and even though it was very well cleaned there was something about it that just made me feel sick…. like gut wrenching sick. This smell got so bad that even though we’d only had the loo three years, I actually made Stu plumb us in a new one because I couldn’t cope with it anymore! – Luckily he’s a plumber so it wasn’t too big of a deal (well he will say it was – but at least he was able to do it!)
Perks of Lockdown
Despite the nausea and extreme tiredness, there were some perks to being pregnant through covid. As I mentioned above, Stu was home at least two days a week, so it was lovely seeing him being able to play in the back garden with Ettie and Ollie. Ideally it would have been the perfect time for us to have lots of family time but I felt so tired and poorly I couldn’t really join in – I just had to watch them out of the top window and smile wistfully before popping off for another nap.
I didn’t have to travel into Horsham too which was great as I don’t know how I would have kept my eyes open on route! It meant I could keep the bump hidden for a little longer too as no one could really see it growing beneath the screen of a Zoom call. Most people were hiding their PJ bottoms, I was hiding another human – and he made himself noticeable really quickly!
Informing the hospital I was pregnant was really strange. It was very early on in the pandemic and I don’t think they must have had proper systems in place, but to cut a long story short I didn’t actually see a midwife in person until I was 30 weeks pregnant which did seem madness at the time, but it was an unusual time. pregnant through Covid
My booking appointment was over the phone and then I had my bloods taken when I went in for my scans. The scans were nerve-wracking because Stu wasn’t allowed to come in with me – but also we needed someone at home to look after Ettie and Ollie and so I needed to go to the hospital on my own too. Because of our history I was acutely aware of how devastating scans could be and was dreading receiving bad news when I was on my own and so shortly before my 12 week scan at the hospital, we booked into have a private scan which Stu could be present for and so that put my mind at rest a little. Thankfully our news was good, but in reality the whole thing is a blur because I was so nervous and I couldn’t stop thinking about all the poor parents who would have had to receive bad news when they were on their own.
Pregnant through Covid
Being pregnant through Covid was a funny old time and I was relieved that it was my third (fifth) go at it. Rather than me having to navigate my way through things as a first time mum, because I’d been through the process before, there were certain things I was aware of that I knew to ask about at appointments and I’m grateful for that prior knowledge because I think without it pregnancy would have been hard.
For example, despite being Consultant led throughout my whole pregnancy, at 40 weeks I found myself sitting in the midwifes office without a proper birth plan in place. It was a Sunday because all of the midweek appointments were taken and so the lovely midwife taking the appointment didn’t really know my history or notes. I explained to her that I was 40 weeks pregnant, but was worried about going over because I was in my late thirties and there’s a higher chance of the placenta breaking down the older you get. I explained how I didn’t want to be induced because I’d had a c-section in the past and it can carry a risk of a uterine rupture, but also that I was concerned about making it to hospital in time because Ollie’s delivery (and the miscarriage before it) had been so quick. She explained that I couldn’t really have a home birth because of my previous CSection (we’ll bypass the fact Ollie was born at home), but also agreed that an induction wouldn’t be safe due again due to the previous csection.
The whole thing was a bit of a mess and the poor duty Midwife didn’t really know what to do with me, especially because it was the weekend so the Consultants weren’t working. She send me up to TRIAGE there and then to get a plan in place and as soon as I spoke to the midwife there I instantly felt more relaxed. Between us we agreed that I would book in to have my waters broken to see if that moved things along. She tried to get me in on the Friday, but as she was out of the room I realised that would be Friday the 13th and so I panicked not wanting to tempt fate! Luckily all the appointments for that day were taken, so an appointment was made for me to come in on Thursday 12th making me one week overdue.
That week I bounced and bounced on my pregnancy ball – (I was actually using a space hopper to begin with but my friend who’s a midwife took pity on me and loaned me her pregnancy ball). I was eating dates like they were going out of fashion, sniffing on my Clary Sage candle and drinking raspberry leaf tea – but nothing was happening! Since being 37 weeks pregnancy I was sure the baby was going to come early and every morning on the way to school I’d joke with people that it would be my last drop off for a while – but he never came!
The final day before going in, I sent Ettie off to School. Stu dropped Ollie at nursery and I set myself up in the living room with my ball and my candle watching the whole Oscar Pistorius documentary – pretty sure that he was going to make an appearance that day – but he never showed and so the next morning, bags packed Stu drove me up to the hospital ….
pregnant through Covid