For us, this year should have been one of the best years of our lives – a year that we were prepared to welcome our second son. Naturally, pregnancy brings with it many anxieties and worries – will it be a natural birth? Does everything look healthy on the scan? What if the waters break early? What if the waters don’t break at all!? Ultimately, being pregnant in and amongst a global pandemic (unknown territory for anyone) meant that our worries and concerns were heightened. 2020 should have been a year surrounded by loved ones for us to celebrate his arrival in May. Instead, it became a time where we were obliged to stay indoors in order to keep us all safe, one where we had multiple concerns and questions.
We became anxious; would partners be allowed in for the birth? How long would he be allowed to stay for? Who would look after our first child now that we were all in lockdown? The logistics of giving birth remained unanswered until the last minute – something that caused a fair amount of stress and anxiety. Luckily for us, everything worked out perfectly. Somehow the midwives, nurses, doctors, consultants, obstetricians made the whole birthing experience seem “normal” and we cannot fault them or thank them enough. The NHS really is truly amazing and totally invaluable.
The weirdest ,and arguably the hardest part, was yet to come. When you have a newborn, everyone is desperate to come and visit and share their excitement. Obviously, this was something that was never going to be possible. These people would also usually be our support network, our respite, our helping hand if we needed it. We had a handful of “doorstep visitors” but no one could come in, no one could hold him. We became increasingly aware of how difficult this was…especially for grandparents! FaceTime conversations, pictures and videos became the way to share our news, introduce him to the family and update them on milestones. It was wonderful to have the technology to do this but it wasn’t the same as handing him over for those warm, comforting cuddles.
Although being unable to see family and friends was challenging for us, lockdown had its positives (hard to believe we know)! Not only did it allow a quick recovery from the second c-section, it also enabled us to bond as a family of four without distractions, without being overwhelmed by visitors and allowed us to appreciate the little things we could have otherwise taken for granted. We had always been concerned about how our eldest would adapt to having a new brother and no longer being the centre of attention with friends and relatives. Due to that, he undoubtedly didn’t feel pushed aside and was able to take his role as big brother seriously as he “helped” us with bath time and feeds and enjoyed snuggles with his little brother who he’d waited so patiently for.
Fortunately for us, even without being able to see people face to face, we still had fantastic family and friends who ensured that we were coping well and adapting to our life as a family of four. Regular FaceTime and Whatsapp group conversations kept our spirits high and gave us something to look forward to when we’d had long, sleepless nights (with the added bonus of no one seeing the carpet of toys, endless piles of washing and us chilling in our PJ bottoms). People would bake exceptionally scrummy cakes or offer to pick up shopping or pop into the back garden (when allowed) for a quick catch up and to view our little bundle from a distance.
Our “newborn” is now 7 months old. He has only been held by a select few people – most of those being medical professionals. This makes our hearts ache. People haven’t bonded with him – will they love him any less? He’s missed out on interacting with other babies his age – will this have a detrimental effect on his social development? We’ve missed out on taking him on holiday or on family outings we did with our first – will we look back and think we’ve treated our children differently? We understand that these thoughts will probably go through every parent’s head but feel that these worries have been amplified by the current situation we all find ourselves in.
When reflecting on our experience, we realise how luckily we are to have the constant support from friends and family whilst also acknowledging that this might not be the case for all families who have had a baby (or pregnancy) whilst in lockdown. Our advice would be focus on the positives, talk to your midwife or health visitor (they’re amazing and trained professionals) and to embrace every challenge with a smile as the chances are most parents have been through a similar situation!
Nick & Lucy x