Shout Out to all the Mums-to-Be Growing Life Under Lockdown
One woman’s experience of being pregnant in the grip of a pandemic
I can’t have been the only pregnant woman in the country whose stomach dropped and world flipped when the Prime Minister changed the guidance around expectant mothers and coronavirus back in March. Recognising the increased risk of living in London, the following day my husband and I packed our bags – and our Cavalier King Charles spaniel Penny – into a taxi and evacuated to the country, to my mum’s house in Cambridgeshire. It felt evocative of wartime, apocalyptic, and if I’m honest a touch melodramatic.
As things escalated over the course of the next couple of days and weeks – and with me being in the third trimester – it became clear we made the right decision, and the intervening time has, oddly, passed with alarming speed. I am now due in under a week. I’ve watched my baby bump blossom in isolation – thriving on the fresh country air and home cooked food – keeping friends and family updated with regular photos, and even enjoyed a surprise baby shower – virtually of course. I’ve enjoyed daily walks through the countryside with the dogs, baked scones in the AGA and spent uninterrupted hours in the sun reading the latest Hilary Mantel novel, which I was determined to finish before the baby’s arrival.
On the face of it, life at my mum’s was fairly idyllic. But underlying all this was a deep sense of anxiety that waved in ebbs and flows: would my baby be at risk if I caught coronavirus? What will the situation be in the hospitals when I come to give birth? Will my husband be allowed to be there? Though wonderful in so many ways, pregnancy can be nerve-wracking at the best of times and the combination of lack of sleep, enhanced emotions and a global pandemic threatened to break my usually stoic resolve on a daily basis. Chris Whitty stated that ‘pregnancy and infections are not a good mix’, well I’d say the same of infections and pregnancy hormones. Meanwhile, NCT classes moved to Zoom – it’s hard to get a sense of the ins and outs of breastfeeding and nappy changing through a screen – midwife appointments began to resemble horror-movie scenes thanks to the necessity of PPE and our planned move to Cambridge was hanging in the balance due to removal companies not working.
Fortunately, we have progressed to a place of a bit more certainty: my husband fully embraced the role of white van man and we are now moved and settled in our new home, the WhatsApp thread started by the women of NCT is proving a solid substitute for face-to-face meet-ups, and as we approach our due date we have come to terms with the new restrictions around the maternity wards. I never envisaged giving birth with my husband standing by in a plastic face shield, nor did I imagine that my parents would have to meet their first grandchild through a living room window, but this is our reality and we are not the only ones.
So this week I’m doing a shout out to all the other women growing life under lockdown. Some I have been fortunate enough to ‘meet’ through Peanut, the app connecting women throughout their pregnancies and the early stages of motherhood. Whether you’re looking for reassurance from women with experience of your local maternity ward, advice on just how many small sleepsuits to buy, or simply a moan about the fact that you can’t go five minutes without needing a wee, Peanut gives you access to a community of likeminded local women who will form the basis of your new support network. Speaking of sleepsuits, sometimes retail therapy is the only solution, and having been denied the pleasure of mooching around the shops for cute babywear, I have found the following sites to be endless sources of inspiration. Like in so many other areas, Scandi style leads the way, with brands such as Cam Cam Copenhagen, Scandiborn and Otis and the Wolf offering chic, sustainable products. I love Mokee for their modern takes on the traditional Moses basket and Artipoppe for how they’ve successfully transformed the baby sling into a fashion accessory; their animal print carriers are truly lust-worthy.
Despite my burgeoning online shopping habit, and amid all the uncertainty and anxiety, there are definite upsides. My husband will be at home for much longer than anticipated after the baby arrives, meaning more support for me and more bonding time for him, and it feels like a real blessing to have something to look forward to this year that – unlike Glastonbury and summer holidays – can’t be cancelled.