Labour in Lockdown
It’s been 12 weeks since Jesse joined us earth side and whilst nothing about the last 3 months have been normal or predictable, there have been moments of loveliness in amongst the sadness. Here’s my birth story from where I stood.
On my 35th birthday, I was 39 weeks pregnant and the government ordered national lockdown due to a global pandemic. Shit. None of us will forget this in a while.
It was time to throw out any ideals I had dreamed up for the next few months of maternity leave, lazy coffees and wandering around with Jesse in a sling and get to grips with what might be coming.
This was my third pregnancy and although I’d been pretty pragmatic about the whole thing, anxiety was creeping up during my final weeks, as to be expected. The pandemic brought a different shift in my thinking and I was trying not to let it get to me but in all honesty, that was getting pretty tough.
We’d decided to close the doors to our shop on Friday 21st of March, a decision that shook me to my core. Due to the stress of that week I was having constant Braxton Hicks and it felt like I was in labour for a few days. Heavy pains, headaches, tears and tiredness. I, like everyone else, wanted to wake up from this terrible dream.
Tim and I sat up until the early hours agonising over what to do with our business, our staff, everything that we had created. The pregnancy took a back seat in our minds but my body was in the last stages of growing my little baby and I felt terrible guilt that I wasn’t focusing on it. I felt torn and my brain and body were so tired. Not in sync, not ready and in a daze.
We pulled the shutter down on our store, locked the gate, set the alarm and didn’t know what was going to happen. I turned on my computer and saw an online business that was booming, out of control, I had more orders than I ever had before. I was 39 weeks pregnant. I knew we had to keep fighting, I knew I had to switch off. But what if I switched off and no one came back to our virtual door. I had to keep going. My midwife asked if I was getting enough rest, I smiled and nodded - I knew she wouldn’t understand.
Lockdown life began and we battled with the idea of home schooling, keeping the front door closed, braving the food shops, keeping two kids healthy and entertained, working, working, working. There were moments of joy and madness. Our version of lockdown was normal, chaotic and long term.
The first week of lockdown meant I could try to adjust mentally to this sad reality but also try to find time to connect with my baby, snuggle with my kids and take midday baths. We had always planned a home birth and now I was really clinging on the possibility that this would happen. The alternative was going in to hospital without Tim as he’d have to stay home with our other two children. To say this frightened me is an understatement.
As the days ticked by, my erratic Braxton Hicks slowed down and I began to ease in to the last days of my pregnancy. Both of my other pregnancies were 41 weeks long so I was hopeful that this one would follow suit. Like clock work, on Saturday night my contractions began. I was lying wide awake not daring to hope that baby was finally ready. Oh dear baby could this be it? Could you be born during lockdown amidst a global pandemic - yep.
Sunday morning: nothing. Damn it.
Sunday rolled on and I took it easy, spending lots of time in bed, my body knew the time was coming and I can’t deny that I was sulking a little bit too!
If anyone is in any doubt of how intuitive your body is, don’t - it’s as if it knew... I kissed the kids goodnight on Sunday and as they turned out the door - BAM a huge contraction that took my breath away. I closed my eyes, knowing that baby was coming and I was ready, excited, impatient.
Please can we stay at home I whispered through my contractions. I want tea and toast in my bed afterwards!
By 11 o clock, my wonderful, excited midwife arrived and although she had a mask to hide her smiles, so much hand sanitiser that it burned my nose, and I didn’t say much through my groans, I could tell we were both so happy that this was happening and where we spending our Sunday night.
The pool was inflated and as I dared to take off my tens machine a huge contraction took over my body and I was definitely entering the stage of labour which feels close to “loosing your mind”, my legs felt weak but I was so lucid. I could feel every sensation, hear every breath, I needed to stay in charge, this was serious, I needed to stay at home with my family.
As the second midwife entered the room at 1am, he arrived. With shaking hands, tears in my eyes, a body that didn’t feel like it belonged to me, he was in this world. I pulled him close. My baby, my baby boy. We did it, we made it.
The sun came up and my body was still rushing from adrenaline. I don’t have a single clue what is going on outside in this crazy world. But everything I need is right here, it’s a wild story, 2020, one that we’ll read in history books for years to come and you’re my very own piece of the story.
I got my tea and toast in bed too!
I have connected with so many mums during this time and we have shared our stories together, we all have had different experiences and supported each other. Thank you to our little maternity circle - not normal but certainly special.