Baby in Lockdown - Michaela's Story
Published on: 04/03/2021
The last thing I expected to do in 2020 was to give birth in a global pandemic. Coronavirus was teetering on the edge of becoming a reality when I fell pregnant in October, though when we attended our 12-week scan in December, everything was just as it always had been.
As the sonographer brushed the probe over my stomach, we learned that our miracle baby was doing fantastically! We announced our pregnancy on social media, hoping this time that we would bring our baby home.
It was just under two months later when I found myself back in the same room and we were told that we were expecting our daughter. I was overjoyed to find out that our baby seemed to be healthy and we were on track for delivery in June that year.
In March I was sat at my desk doing my usual work when an alert popped up on my screen that the government were making an announcement, it was then, like many others, where my journey completely changed.
Pregnant women were now classed as vulnerable and I spent the remainder of my working weeks, nesting in my home and yearning to spend time with my family.
May rolled around and we were still in full lockdown. My daughter was a miracle and we had already missed out on so much the first time around after Zachary’s life was cut short. I attended my virtual baby shower in my living room, with freshly washed hair and bright red lipstick which was a stark contrast to baby-faced me in my husbands t-shirt in the hot summer weather.
At 38 weeks and 1 day, I was sat on yet another Zoom meeting when I realised that I hadn’t felt baby girl move for a while. This was quite normal for me as my placenta was anterior and I had had many a visit to the triage department through my pregnancy. I called the number like many times before and was invited up to the hospital. On this occasion, they said that my husband could join me. It was 11pm at night on a Monday, so I assumed they were just quiet.
We walked into the hospital and were told to put a mask on straight away, this hadn’t happened before and as I scaled the four floors up to the delivery suite with my beachball bump and five foot frame in the summer heat, I was ready to rip it off my face as soon as I got to the top.
We were asked to go to a delivery suite room, and it was then that I found myself in the same room that my son had quietly slipped into the world just over one year earlier. After a short, yet agonising wait, we were invited into the triage room.
I was hooked up to the monitor and listened to the rumble of her heartbeat while chatting away to my husband. The midwife said that she wasn’t cooperating but seemed to be okay, they wanted to speak to a doctor first to make sure everything was okay.
An hour or so passed and much to my surprise, they recommended an induction. I had only come in for a check and now I was going to be leaving the hospital with my baby girl in my arms, rather than my stomach!
My husband had to leave due to covid guidelines and I waddled down to the maternity ward. I was utterly terrified. I sat on the bed and was given a pessary and hooked up to the monitor once again. It wasn’t long after that I began to experience contractions.
The next morning around 9am, I was examined and was found to be 3cm. The midwife suggested that I used my allowance of two hours with my partner to walk around the hospital and encourage baby to come down more.
As I sat bouncing on my birthing ball I heard a huge crack. Great, I thought… now I’ve broken the ball, just something that only I would do. As I stood up to inspect it, I was leaking. Okay, leaking is a serious understatement. It looked as though someone had undone the washing machine door mid-cycle. I assumed it was my waters and watched the midwife slip and slide on them from underneath the curtain, something that was both mortifying and impressive!
My husband walked through the door at this very moment and he could stay as we were in established labour! (I say we, but I was the one doing the majority of the work at this time…)
The pain became unbearable and I was offered a bath. I dubiously accepted and rather ungraciously flopped into the bath while my husband repeatedly placed wet paper towels on my head between contractions.
Suddenly I had the urge to push, I was examined and was 7cm, I was rushed around to the delivery suite.
I can’t tell you how I got onto that bed that day, I resembled a beach whale that had been washed up onto shore as people tried to push it back into the ocean. In between grunts and laughter (thank you, gas and air) I made it onto the bed and began to push.
The midwife told me that she could see the baby’s head and asked if I wanted to see. I watched the rest of my birth through a mirror at the end of the bed (again, thank you pain relief) and after what felt like an eternity and seconds all at once, my daughter was placed on my chest.
We named her Amelie Autumn and she weighed 7lb 5oz. I had to have some stitches (which by the way, are not as bad as you’d think) so my husband had some beautiful prolonged skin-to-skin with his baby girl while I asked all sorts of inappropriate questions to the medical staff in the room. The pain relief and elation of seeing my daughter made for a hilarious concoction, for me at least.
After a few hours, I went to the maternity ward and started to figure out motherhood to a living baby on my own. Throughout the night, I fumbled between breastfeeding and nappy changes and watched her sleep soundly as I somehow stayed awake.
The cancellations of antenatal classes, breastfeeding support, in-home visits (for the most part), not being able to see friends and family and being confined to my house has been difficult to say the least, but I know how blessed I am to have my baby girl here and healthy, and I choose to cherish every moment, while reminding myself that I don’t need to enjoy every moment to be a good mother.
Giving birth and being pregnant in a pandemic is just a little bit interesting, but it involves a whole lot of love.