The last couple of months have seen our household suitably in love, sleep deprived and blurry eyed adapting to our ‘new normal’. I realise that that particular phrase is being somewhat overused at the moment, but it does so nicely sum up the significance of the changes that this season is bringing. I’ve decided that given that we’re living through such a historic time, it would be worth documenting the experience of pregnancy in lockdown.
We welcomed our first child into the world at the end of June, 3 months into lockdown, and welcoming him into a very different world to the one that I’d assumed he’d see. His normal currently consists of being greeted by a midwife wearing a face mask, face masks being worn by doctors who examine him, people standing 2m apart in queues, socially distanced family meetings, etc – all these things will be normal to him, he hasn’t known anything else.
Adapting to the ‘new normal’
Having the wonderful blessing of a new child in the house has forced upon us so much change. There are a number of things that we’ve had to adapt to quickly, and in the lockdown season, often without the support networks that I’d assumed would be present. Family members haven’t been able to visit, there are no physical parent and baby groups to attend, and it’s been difficult to meet a network of other new mums (but not impossible).
Despite the fact that the arrival of our first child hasn’t been surrounded by scenarios I’d assumed would have been in place, it doesn’t mean that the changes have been all bad. In fact, there’s a lot in the season that I’m grateful for – we have found community and support in the local digital sphere around us. The only thing is that it’s all looked so very different from the way it would before lockdown hit, and pregnancy in lockdown was a very different experience to the one I’d assumed would happen.
Being pregnant during lockdown
Pregnancy in lockdown has certainly made the process different to how I expected. The assumption that my husband and I would be able to share in scans, midwife appointments etc was quickly taken away. Some of the midwives and consultants were happy for me to Facetime from the appointments so that my husband could still have some sense of involvement, but not all. This was particularly difficult if a scan or consultation contained potentially concerning news. There was one particular appointment when there had been a tricky scan, and a difficult consultant appointment, and all my husband could do was sit in the car and be involved in the process in part via his phone.
Many healthcare workers have been amazing during this time, and have done the best they can, but it’s certainly been a different pregnancy experience to the one that had been assumed.
In the last few months, I’ve been so grateful for social media, and the support for specific groups found on Facebook particularly. One wonderful person set up a ‘Quarantine Mums’ group on Facebook and it’s been worth its weight in gold. Out of it I’ve found support, received vital supplies, and found recommendations for virtual classes when the physical classes ceased.
The last few months of pregnancy in lockdown also meant that we could not get to those last minute shopping trips that I’d assumed would be able to happen. I’m not the worlds biggest shopper, but I had assumed that I’d have the luxury of being able to peruse the shelves at department stores etc, acclimatising myself with the sizes of babies clothes (a complete foreign subject to me), and the range of things that would be helpful.
What happened instead, is that, again through online groups, people have shared their used items and ensuring that they help others. This has been a huge help in reducing the potential waste from fast fashion and also a great way of meeting other mums a few months ahead of the journey. We were always going to try to be more sustainable with this baby (cloth diapers etc), but the season has certainly brought a fresh gratitude for the provision of items exactly when we needed them, and also fresh invention from necessity to use things we already have, and not solve every new need with a trip to the shops.
Celebrate the victories
We’ve always had a mantra in our home to ‘celebrate the victories’. Building a company over the last 6 years has been rewarding and challenging in equal measure, and it’s always been important that we celebrate the victories when they arise.
In this new season of parenthood, this phrase has taken a fresh meaning. The ‘victories’ may be so many actions that we in previous weeks and months took for granted – seemingly simple things like taking a shower, having a warm cup of tea, are absolute things to be celebrated as our routine has been completely turned on its head, to be re-shaped in a new, expanded family way.
changing perceptions of success
In the last few months have brought a rapidly evolving sense of what success looks like. Gone were the days (for now) where success looked like traveling miles to see family for a day, or an 18-hour film shoot for example. These days, success has become much more close to home. Leaving the house as a family in itself has become something to be achieved, and whilst we’re still reluctant to venture out into public spaces, a trip to the drive-through coffee and then out for a walk in the woods has become a significant achievement.
finding community in digital spaces
I am also so grateful for the online communities that have sprung up to fill the void that physical meet-ups have left. Baby massage classes and sing and play groups via zoom have been a lovely way to speak at least a little to other local new mums, and Facebook groups have been a great way to ask others questions when yet another curveball is thrown as the little one’s routine develops.
I guess as someone who’s been an early adopter of both digital and remote working, I’ve found the changes easier than many. The groups are no substitute for in-person meetups, but they do go some way to fill the space, and also are a lot less likely to bring the anxiety that comes from going to a public space with a newborn whilst the virus is still around.
Pregnancy in Lockdown
There you have it, a short summary of one experience of what it’s been like being pregnant in lockdown. It’s been different, but it’s also brought a lot of joy, and we’ve had far more time as a nuclear family to enjoy the little one’s early days, that we would have ever imagined a few months ago.
I’ll probably write more about the journey in the future, but for now, I’ll finish with the best advice that I was given going into this. There are days that bring time to myself (like the space to write this blog while he’s in the sling), and there are some days that feel relentless with changes and demands. In the beginning, a good friend advised me ‘enjoy the cuddles, however many they need, they won’t last for long’ and she was right. I can see the little one changing on a daily basis, growing up way faster than I’m ready for him to do, and the cuddles that he needs so badly now I’ll continue to enjoy until he gets to the season where he no longer asks for them.