• Sally

Having a Baby in Lockdown: Rachel's Story

Updated: Apr 18, 2021

“They said there’s going to be a baby boom because of lockdown,” said my husband, pressing play on Moana for the third time that day.

I peeled our 15-month-old’s fingers off my keyboard and shoved him (a bit too forcefully) away from my makeshift desk in the corner of the sitting room, just as our Labrador started going nuts (again) at passers by. This is fucking chaos, I thought to myself. Nobody would want to bring another child into this hell on earth!

A few weeks into lockdown and it felt like we were finding our rhythm. I was smug. ‘Nap time tan time’ was an actual thing (Microsoft Teams meetings permitting), and I’d rediscovered my love of tequila.

It didn’t last. Eight weeks in, our world was turned upside down again and we found out we’d be bringing another rugrat into the mix. Morning sickness reigned supreme and my toddler enjoyed creeping up behind me making gagging and retching sounds while I vomited during work meetings - camera off - which was bloody awesome.

Being pregnant with a toddler is hard work. Being pregnant during lockdown is weird. Being pregnant during lockdown WITH A TODDLER is just another level of strange, with so many thoughts and feelings that I can’t quite put into words. Relief that you can hide from the world in those early weeks, sadness that friends or family won’t be able to see your growing bump. Afraid to feel like a burden for moaning via WhatsApp about swollen feet, nausea or other ailments, because everyone has so much of their own shit going on. And bloody knackered from juggling work and childcare Every. Single. Day.

I went into hospital at 35+5 for a growth scan only to be told I had vasa previa, a severe (but luckily rare) complication whereby some of the fetal umbilical cord blood vessels run across or very close to the cervix. It was deemed too dangerous for me to leave the hospital at all. After two days of steroid injections to develop the baby’s lungs, a c-section would be booked in.

That day was the only day throughout my pregnancy where I really noticed the impact of Covid-19. I had been able to brush off going to scans or appointments alone, but trying to explain over the phone that I couldn’t come home and that something was seriously wrong was... insane. Calling my boss and telling her I would miss my 11am meeting (oh, and I’m on maternity leave now too) was a bit odd as well!

Our second little boy arrived at 36 weeks in December 2020, four weeks and somehow a whole year early, a lockdown baby through and through. I was surprised to find that rather than enjoying the break, those five days away from our two-year-old after almost a year in each other’s pockets completely crippled me.

I have a video on my phone that was meant to be a goodnight message, in which my husband says “say goodnight Mummy”, and my little boy replies “Mummy’s gone”. It breaks my heart watching it even now, thinking how he must have felt coming home from nursery with me not there. But three months on, of course he doesn’t remember that at all.

If it’s one thing I’ve learned from 2020, it’s that children are resilient little fuckers. They will handle everything you throw at them and just adapt, we’re the weak ones. They will break us time and time again, and then just keep going, probably while singing Moana songs.

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