Pandemic Parenting: Johanne’s Story

In our second instalment of “Pandemic Parenting”, we feature Johanne’s story. Johanne was in her third trimester of pregnancy when the UK went into lockdown, and so gave birth to her beautiful baby boy in the midst of the pandemic. This is her story.

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What a year it has been! A year ago, I turned 35. I also found out I was pregnant with our beautiful boy. We knew about the pregnancy right away, as I got very very sick. I was bed bound the first 21 weeks of pregnancy with extreme morning sickness. I worked from home throughout my pregnancy and have now been in ‘lockdown’ for a year.

What was supposed to be one of the happiest times of my life turned into a very dark place. Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is hard on you; on your body, on your mental health and on your social life. The feeling of loneliness, inadequacy, sadness and anger is numbing, and you doubt your ability as a woman/mother.

I sought counselling to fall back in love with my bump and my different pregnancy and I just had time to join a few mindfulness pregnancy classes in my third trimester before the national lockdown.

The lockdown forced a permanent move from London to my husband’s family further north. A move that meant I had to leave behind my GP, midwife, maternity ward and NCT group as well as my expectations for labour and life with a newborn in my ‘safe space’, my home for the last 6 years. Easy to say, my world turned very dark once again.

My water broke two weeks early. Luckily, my birth story is positive. It all went extremely fast and very smooth, without painkillers or problems. But nothing had prepared me for what came next.

When we arrived at the hospital I was in full labour, and so my husband could join me in the delivery room right away. He stayed with me and our baby boy till we had to leave for the maternity ward. And then we were two; just my newborn and me. The midwifes were very friendly and lovely, but they kept their contact with new mums to a minimum and they wore full PPE. After two nights I got to go home, only to be sent back to the hospital as our boy was jaundice. Another two nights were spent alone in the hospital, meaning that I’d now been all alone with our newborn son for 4 of his 5 first nights and days in the world. With raging hormones and lots of tears, I breastfed and cuddled and gave all my love and attention to this new little person in my life, while my husband was at home, waiting for news on his baby boy and worrying about me and my mental health on the back of my HG pregnancy.

Having a baby is the most beautiful experience! Becoming a new mum is both humbling and scary but also very lonely and a huge change to the system! Becoming a mum during Covid-19 on the back of a HG pregnancy is the greatest emotional challenge I’ve ever faced.

After being discharged, we saw the midwifes twice. Then followed two phone calls from the health visitor. I even had some weekly calls with Motherwell to keep track of my mental state. Since agreeing that I didn’t have post-natal depression I haven’t heard from anyone. We’ve had the standard immunisations at our GP clinic and have been told all is fine.

Other than that, we’ve been alone with our son. Not even grandparents have been involved, as my husband’s parents have been shielding and my own parents lives outside of the UK. My parents travelled here to meet their grandson as soon as restrictions were lifted, but restrictions are now back in place and we don’t know when our little boy will be able to get cuddles from his grandparents or aunts and uncles – even his first Christmas might be with the only people he’s gotten to know properly so far, his mummy and daddy.

I have done my utmost to meet other mums and join baby classes in my new home in the north. If a full lockdown is coming, this will again be stopped, and the world will once again be very lonely for both me and my boy.

My hope is, that our gorgeous baby will not be too anxious to leave my arms. That he will be able to connect with other adults, family members and babies. That he will cope with life outside the confinement of our house and small garden.

I’m worried if I’ll be able to leave my boy. That I won’t trust other people to take care of him. I’m all he knows and all he has. My little pandemic baby❤️

xxx Johanne

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