Honestly, it’s frightening. But I am finding hope.
The COVID-19 outbreak is literally changing the world right now, and everyone is scared of what’s to come. But as someone who’s just weeks away from giving birth to her first child, many of my fears are focused on what that day will bring.
I wonder what life is going to be like when I have to go into the hospital to have my elective C-Section. What it’s going to be like as I recover. What it’s going to be like for my newborn baby.
And all I can do is keep up with the news and hospital guidelines and try to remain positive, because everyone knows stress and negativity aren’t good for a pregnant woman.
When I first heard about the disease I wasn’t overly worried. I didn’t think it would spread to the extent it has now, where it’s affecting and changing our daily lives.
No longer can we see friends or family or go for a drink in the pub. No longer can we go for group walks or to work.
I was already on my maternity leave when this whole thing started affecting the country, so luckily my work hasn’t been affected. I have a roof over my head and I live with my partner. So in a way, even with all of this going on, I feel safe.
Due to being pregnant and also having gestational diabetes, I’ve been advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks. This means I will be at home with my partner for 3 weeks before the baby is here and 9 weeks afterward.
I’m not upset about this. While I’m still pregnant, there are lots of things I can do during this time.
I can put the finishing touches to my baby’s room, I can read some pregnancy and mum-to-be books. I can get in some sleep before I lose it all when he’s here. I can pack my hospital bag, and so on.
I’m trying to look at it as 3 weeks to get everything together, instead of 3 weeks stuck in the house.
Once he arrives, I know that actually caring for a newborn is going to be hard work and that I probably won’t want to leave the house much anyways.
Of course I will go for my daily exercise — a walk alone with my baby, so that he can get some fresh air — but for a new mum, self-isolation doesn’t seem like the end of the world.
I’m focusing on the gift of time with my new baby.
One thing I have struggled with is that the hospital I’ll be giving birth at has added new restrictions on visitors. I’m allowed one birth partner, which of course will be my partner — the baby’s dad, but after that, he’s also the only person allowed to visit me and the baby while I’m in hospital.
Of course I wanted my mum to come to see us after the birth, to hold my son and to allow her to bond. I wanted select family members to be able to have their time with him. But again I’m trying to look at the bright side and think about it this way: I will now have extra time with just me, my partner, and our son so that we can spend some time bonding with no interruptions.
I will get as much skin-to-skin with my son as I like without worrying about other people coming into the room and wanting to hold him. For 2 days, as I stay in the hospital, we will be able to be a family with nobody else involved. And that sounds quite nice.
Unfortunately, the restrictions will go on to when I’m at home with my newborn.
Nobody will be allowed to visit as we are in what’s basically a lockdown, and nobody will be able to hold our baby except me and my partner.
I was gutted about this at first, but I know there are others out there who are living completely alone and isolated from the world. There are those with sick, older parents who wonder whether they’ll ever see each other again.
I’m lucky that I’ll have my little family at home safely with me. And there’s always the likes of Skype and Zoom so that I can catch up with my parents and other relatives to show them the baby — and they’ll just have to have an online meeting! It will be hard, of course, but it’s something. And I’m grateful for that.
Of course this is a really stressful time, but I am trying to keep calm and to think of the positives, and to focus on what I can do and forget what’s out of my hands.
For any other pregnant woman in isolation right now, use it as a time to get ready for your baby and to do things at home that you won’t have the time to do with a newborn.
Have a long nap, a warm bubble bath, cook a luxurious meal — because it’ll be whatever’s in the freezer for a long while.
Fill your time with reading books or working from home if that’s what you’re doing. I’ve even bought some adult coloring books and pens to pass the time.
This home stretch is going to be focused on getting everything ready for when my baby is here. I am scared about what’s going to happen afterward and where the world is going to be, but that’s something I can’t do anything about except follow the guidelines and restrictions, and to try and keep my family safe.
If you’re anxious, try to remember that all you can do is your best. The world is a scary place right now, but you have a beautiful little baby who’s going to be your world coming soon.
- Remember to check in with your doctor and your midwife for mental health support.
- Look into anxiety journals so that you can track your mood.
- Try reading some calming books.
- Keep up with any medication you’re taking.
- Just try to keep some form of normal going right now — because it’s the best thing you can do for you and your baby.
It’s okay to be scared right now. Let’s face it, we all are. But we can get through it. And we’re the lucky ones who’ll get to experience the best kind of love in the world throughout these tough times.
So try to focus on that, and the good stuff that’s to come — because there will be lots of it.
Hattie Gladwell is a mental health journalist, author, and advocate. She writes about mental illness in hopes of diminishing the stigma and to encourage others to speak out.