Following on from her previous guest blog about pregnancy in lockdown, Talya Sinclair (one half of ‘bondedbybabies’ on Instagram) shares her experience of what it was like to give birth in lockdown and have a “lockdown baby”. If you are in a similar position and wondering what the experience is like, Talya lets us behind the scenes to help put other mums minds at ease.
“At 5am on July 14th 2020 I watched my parents standing on my doorstep, waving to me with tears in their eyes as Ben (my husband) reversed out of our driveway to take me to the hospital to deliver our baby boy.
Prior to my due date my parents and in laws made it their mission to isolate as strictly as possible so they could safely care for my 2 year old daughter while I was in hospital.
Although I’d given birth to my daughter two years prior, I felt like this birthing experience was brand new. I anticipated being alone for vital parts of my hospital stay, I expected to be Covid tested before being allowed to enter the hospital ward and I expected the doctors and midwives to be wearing full PPE, but there was one minor detail I hadn’t mentally prepared for despite all the media coverage and hearsay. I was not prepared to bring my son into this world whilst being made to wear a mask.
Giving birth is an unforgettable experience.
But giving birth with a mask on.. during a global pandemic.. is a story my great grandchildren will tell their friends.
That’s my son’s name – Storey.
Thinking back on this day brings back a multitude of emotions from excitement, pure love, but also fear and anxiety.
We arrived at the hospital at 5:15am and were taken straight to a room where we had to stay until I’d been Covid tested and been given a negative result. I knew Ben was going to be made to leave as soon as the baby was born which was an unfathomable thought and something I’d been dreading for months prior. Whilst waiting for my consultant to arrive to take me to surgery we chatted, watched our daughter sleeping peacefully via the app that connects to her baby monitor at home and discussed what our newborn would look like. Before I knew it the midwife on call came to my room to deliver the news that my Covid test had come back negative and that they were preparing the theatre for my operation. My consultant arrived dressed not only in head to toe scrubs, wellies and a cap on but he was also wearing gloves up to his elbows, a mask and a plastic helmet type visor. ‘Don’t be afraid, it’s to protect myself and you’ he explained.
Being in theatre for the c section didn’t feel particularly different to my previous experience, but being given a spinal block whilst being made to wear a mask myself was a detail I hadn’t considered until it was happening.
Our son Storey was born at 9:15am. ‘Yep! Definitely a boy!’ said Ben.. but he wasn’t crying. ‘Can we have dad over here please?’ called a voice from the surgical team. Fast forward a few minutes (that felt like a lifetime) and our baby was resuscitated by the crash team. Thankfully, he just had a little shock when he was born and forgot to breathe. The NHS hospital staff acted so quickly and professionally despite already being under immense pressure and most likely suffering from exhaustion due to being overworked given the circumstances.
- Visiting time
I was relieved to be wheeled into recovery knowing the operation was finally over and my baby boy was tucked safely under a towel on my chest, but the moment I’d been dreading was fast approaching. Ben was going to be asked to leave. I cheekily asked the recovery midwife to let him stay a little while longer but she was adamant these were the rules and I respected that.
I was taken up to the ward where I’d stay until being discharged, and Ben walked back to the car alone. It was then that I realised this wasn’t about me. This was on a much larger scale – yes, it was difficult watching my husband leave the hospital on his own, and yes, it was difficult recovering from childbirth without an extra pair of hands, but I felt a sense of pride knowing I was helping to protect the other ladies and babies on the ward around me. We gave each other a knowing smile. We supported each other. We came together as mothers to help try and ‘flatten the curve’.
We did our part together and I will never forget how that felt.
- The COVID effect
I was 4 months pregnant when our world suddenly felt like it was falling apart. I spent the following months being as careful as humanly possible – frantically washing my hands, wiping all our food deliveries with antibacterial wipes and only leaving the house to take my two year old for a walk. As strange as this may sound, I found comfort in knowing the entire world was doing the same. I saw my c section date as the finish line. No longer pregnant = no longer at risk. I know now that this is not the case. Although, I didn’t anticipate being handed a newborn baby during the middle of a global pandemic would make me feel even more vulnerable than I did before. Covid 19 is our new ‘way of life’ and it’s taken me almost 3 months to wrap my head around the fact that there is no such thing as a ‘finish line.’ However, we were in this together when our world seemingly started to fall apart, and we will be in this together as we begin to rebuild our world and adapt to this ‘new normal.’ I urge any expectant mothers to understand that although this may feel scary, we’re not alone, and we’re superstars for being strong for our lockdown babies.”
Thank you to Talya for sharing her story and welcome to the world, Storey! We’d love to hear other experiences of pregnancy and birth in lockdown or any questions expecting parents may have for Talya so leave us a message in the comments.