Loneliness in the Pandemic - Having a Newborn in Lockdownby Amie MacKay
When I found out I was pregnant not once did I ever think I would end up giving birth during a worldwide pandemic!
Life felt uncertain and with having a high-risk pregnancy COVID 19 tipped my anxiety over the edge. The week before Scotland went into lockdown, we pulled our daughter from nursery and we began isolating, my hubby was classed as a keyworker so continued to work but took every precaution to make sure we stayed safe. Deciding to isolate early meant cutting off any form of outside support. I don’t think I realised how tiring and lonely lockdown would be especially being 28 weeks pregnant and having to run around after a three-year-old by myself and being unable to leave the house. Also not knowing how long lockdown would last was extremely nerve-wracking.
The excitement of being pregnant with our second rainbow baby just turned to anxiety and fear, mainly because COVID was so new and serious and at this point, nobody knew how and if it impacted pregnancy. After multiple miscarriages, I could not bear for anything to happen to our baby so we made sure we followed the guidelines, my daughter and I stayed at home and I only left for hospital appointments which my hubby was not allowed to attend. Due to me being high risk and with having recurrent miscarriages I got several extra scans; I was lucky that none of mine got cancelled – I know this was not the case for everyone.
Times of excitement for new parents are now tainted with sadness as dads/partners are missing out on the big pregnancy milestones. Those who have been given bad news at scans have had to face that alone, which is just awful. So many Dads/Partners have missed out on scans, midwife appointments, hearing their baby’s heartbeat for the first time and even their babies’ birth. This was my biggest fear, having to give birth alone.
Luckily the guidance changed on the royal obstetrics and gynaecology website a week or so before I gave birth which meant my mum was allowed to come and watch Heidi when I went into labour which meant Duncan could be with me and I didn’t have to give birth alone – thank god! My mum had been isolating the entire time, so we knew she was “safe”. She stayed with us for a couple of days but after she went home, we went back to socially distanced visits in our garden.
I was worried about what it would be like in the hospital, worried that Duncan wouldn’t get to stay long after I’d given birth, worried about catching the Coronavirus whilst I was in the hospital but it was, funnily enough, the last thing on my mind when I arrived at the hospital and the entire time I was in I felt really safe. I think just now the midwives are going above and beyond to be supportive in every way possible to help new mums not feel like they are on their own. I got home the same day, but I have heard so many lovely stories about how great the midwives were during overnight stays.
When we got home I wasn’t sure what my postnatal care would be like, I had heard so many different things but I had 3 midwife visits – One on day 1, then day 5 and the last one on day 10. I got phone calls in between to make sure I was doing ok and to ask if I had any concerns. We then got handed over the health visitor I’ve had two face to face visits so far and the rest have been over the phone, but it has been made clear to me that if I have any concerns to phone and I’d get a face to face visit if I wanted.
My daughter just had her 6-week check last week; I, however, have not had one. I am not overly bothered by this; I do not have any concerns and feel fine and well in myself and have recovered well from giving birth. However, this will not be the case for everyone, I will not be surprised if there is a rise in the amount of woman who suffer from PND, I have never felt so lonely and separated from the world, pregnancy and lockdown are not a good combination. Being cut off from your outside support is difficult, especially when you are so used to seeing them. I made myself very aware of Post Natal Depression signs as I wanted to be aware just in case.
I have felt really supported by the maternity staff both pre and postnatally, I have been really lucky that my care was not affected by COVID. However, after speaking to several mums across the UK it is sad to hear that it has not been the same for everyone. Some ladies have had hardly any midwife appointments and a lot of them had extra scans cancelled.
A few weeks after Hallie was born lockdown restrictions were lifted which meant we could be in other people’s houses and not long after, they announced in Scotland that under 11s did not need to socially distance. My anxiety heightened! We had gotten used to living in our on little safety bubble and the thought of letting people into our home and risking the virus was scary, especially seeing as it seemed as the whole world had found a new normal of going out and about and mixing with others. We explained to our nearest and dearest we were not allowing visitors inside the house just yet. Overall, everyone was understanding – well most were, we had a few comments and I was made to feel as if I was completely overreacting. After having babies die inside me, I was not up for risking my newborn’s life - so for the first time ever I was not caring, well I was trying not to care about other people’s comments. My babies were far more important.
We have just started to allow visitors in our home and to make us more at ease we asked those who visited to come freshly showered, in clean clothes, to wear a mask and also to wash their hands when they arrive. We are also keeping visitors a week apart so if any of us do get any symptoms we know who we have been with. I am a bit OCD anyway, so I make sure everything has been wiped down before and after our visitors arrive. To some, this may seem extreme, but I honestly do not care. My job as a mummy is to keep my babies safe so that is what I’m doing. COVID is real, the impact it has had in the world is real and so many babies have been born amongst it.
So, before you judge soon to be parents or new parents, go, and have a word with yourself and step into their shoes. It is bloody hard and an incredibly uneasy situation to be in. If you are finding it hard not being able to meet the new baby, imagine how they are feeling. Not being able to have family around, or any visits in the hospital is horrible, we did not ask for the Coronavirus, we did not cause it or put the country into lockdown. At the end of the day, we are just doing what we feel is best for our family. Understand that everyone will do things differently, some of you will be reading this thinking, wow she’s overreacting majorly, others may be doing the exact same thing, but I guarantee whatever you’re doing you’re doing what you think is best for your family and everyone else? Well, they just need to respect your wishes, whatever they may be.
Being pregnant and having a new baby in lockdown is not easy, it has been upsetting, lonely and so difficult. So be kind, be understanding and be supportive. If you have had a loved one give birth or who is pregnant, reach out to them, do not tell them how desperate you are to meet the new addition – they know. Ask them how they are, if they need anything dropped off, ask for pictures, do anything but make them feel guilty because believe me, they are already feeling it.
To all my fellow mummies who have had lockdown babies, we will have one hell of a story to tell!
Stay Safe Everyone! X