baby

"While I was in hospital having my first baby, the whole world changed. This is our life now."

While I was in hospital having my first baby, the whole world changed. Under any other circumstance, that would sound like an exaggeration, but not now.

When I was admitted on March 10, coronavirus was certainly being taken more seriously than it had in previous weeks, but things accelerated with terrifying speed during this period.

Just days before giving birth, I’d gathered with friends and family for my baby shower. There was food, games, baby chats and lots of hugs, which seems inconceivable — even dangerous — now, just a few weeks later. I remember talking about people clearing stores of toilet paper and reflecting on how disappointing it would be to have a holiday disrupted due to COVID-19.

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It’s incredible now to think that these seemed like the most significant issues associated with the crisis.

The day after my son was born, the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic. During a long, difficult, sleepless night in hospital, battling exhaustion and pain, I discovered via social media how quickly things had taken a turn for the worse. I was floored by stories coming out of Italy and the US.

Those moments in hospital after a difficult birth are lonely and scary for any new mum, but I was truly terrified as I tried to comprehend and reconcile what was going on – what had I brought this baby into?

We got home about a week before social distancing was implemented. In those first few days, we only had immediate family visit but they merely observed the baby from a considerable distance — no cuddles and no getting too close.

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At the time this seemed slightly excessive, but you can’t be too careful with a newborn! Now, of course, visits have ceased completely. Phone calls, text messages and care packages dropped off outside the house is the closest most of our family and friends have come to meeting our son.

My brothers haven’t held their nephew, and my sister-in-law and her children haven’t met him. We have no idea how old he’ll be by the time he can properly meet his aunties, uncles and our close friends, or cuddle with his grandparents.

My 86-year-old nan, who resides in a care facility, is desperate to meet the little boy who made her a great-grandmother, but visits were banned a couple of days after I got home from hospital.

She thought her days would be full of baby visits — as did I — and instead she’s completely cut off from family (for her own safety and that of other residents – a necessary and important move). While it’s for the best, I hate to think how difficult this situation is for her. In her 67 years married to my granddad, they’ve never been apart this long.

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Everything has been affected. Our first maternal and child health nurse visit would usually take place in our home, but home visits were suspended by the time our baby was due for his first appointment.

Instead, I took photos of his sleeping space for assessment and went into the clinic. Future appointments will likely be held over the phone only. The staff have been as supportive as possible during this time, when face-to-face visits would generally be the norm.

Parents group will be facilitated online as there’ll be no meet-ups for the foreseeable future. Again, these are all necessary decisions for the safety of staff, my baby and other families that I completely understand and respect. It doesn’t make it easier though.

We’re strictly adhering to restrictions to protect everyone — ourselves, our family, the general community — and especially our newborn. My heart goes out to women who are currently pregnant (I know of four, who are constantly in my thoughts) and I hope for their sake, and their babies’, that they can welcome their little ones into a safer and more stable world soon.

Ultimately, as hard as it is to be cut off from people at such a special time, we fully appreciate the need for the current measures and accept that it could be a lot worse. It’s not worth risking anyone’s health for a fleeting moment of normalcy.

When it’s finally over, the moment our loved ones get to safely meet our son will definitely be worth it.

Lara is a communications professional and new mum. She politely asks that you excuse her Iso-brows and the not-insignificant amount of baby vomit in her hair.

The current situation around COVID-19 might be making you feel scared or uncertain. It’s okay to feel this way, but it’s also important to learn how to manage feelings of anxiety during this time. To download the free PDF: Anxiety & Coronavirus – How to Manage Feelings of Anxiety click here.

Feature image: supplied.

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