Anyone who has had a baby since March 2020 will tell you that having a baby in a global pandemic is far from ideal.
Having a baby in any circumstances is a massive transition. Factor in a first baby for two very enthusiastic, but completely clueless, humans with no support and you have a recipe for a very bumpy (pun intended) ride.
When I fell pregnant in February 2020 I was thrilled.
I was amazed at the thought that Jon and I had made a teeny jelly bean with a little flickery heartbeat. We were so in love with each other and our tiny cupcake-sprinkle-sized baby (so much so that the baby came to be known as ‘Sprinks’ throughout the pregnancy!)
We immediately told my parents and my sister Alice and my Brother-in-Law Mike. Alice and Mike were planning to come to Australia for a year of working holiday so they would be here when the baby was born in November. But we wanted to make sure that my parents could be here too. Tickets were booked and planning began in earnest. We couldn’t wait to share this amazing experience of a first baby, first nephew and first grandchild with our dearest ones.
We diligently selected our OB and the the hospital we wanted to have the baby in; we started house-hunting for a house that could actually have a baby in it (as opposed to the house we were living in that could house an awesome party but certainly not a baby) and What to Expect When you’re Expecting became our bedtime reading.
What even the great Heidi Murkoff could not have prepared us for was the reality of the next 7 months. While Sprinks was hitting all the milestones and growing peacefully in his cosy den in my tummy, the world as we knew it went into turmoil.
Just weeks after finding out I was pregnant, Melbourne went into its first (of many) lockdowns.
At the time lockdown was just a concept, almost a bit of fun. I had terrible morning sickness so it was actually almost a blessing initially. I could work (and puke freely) from the comfort of my own bathroom. We were pleased that the problem was being dealt with swiftly so that Alice and Mike could arrive in August and my parents could arrive in October to a totally healthy and safe Australia….
Well we know how that turned out.
As my pregnancy progressed we shifted plans time and time again. As I went to my 13 week scan (alone with my husband on Facetime in the car outside) Alice and Mike’s flight got cancelled for the first time. They rebooked for September. Things looked hopeful. Lockdown in Melbourne lifted. I returned to work and shared my bump with wonderful colleagues and friends over here. Jon and I moved into our first proper home and we dared to get excited. Then the big blow. Stage 4 lockdown was announced at the beginning of August and Alice and Mike’s September flight and my parents’ October flight were both cancelled with no option to rebook.
It’s difficult to write about this in September 2021, over a full year later. It’s hard to put into words the cycle of hope and despair I felt, pushing back the expectation of my family seeing me pregnant.
When you are pregnant there is so much uncertainty.
Everything is a mystery. For me, alongside the beautiful mystery of this squirming Sprinksy creature who I loved more with each wriggle and kick, was the agonizingly painful mystery of when I could share this experience with my family.
The pandemic offered Jon and I the gift of spending our last months ‘just us’ snuggled up together.
It cemented our relationship. We spent weeks and weeks just us, chatting, puzzling, reading, watching movies and soaking up each other’s company and I will always be grateful for that. But there was also a massive cost.
Our pregnancy was much more challenging. We couldn’t attend birthing classes, Jon couldn’t attend key scans, I sat through many many appointments anxious and alone. But all of these hardships pale in comparison to the grief we feel that the whole pregnancy was missed by my loved ones.
No matter when the world opens up, we will never get back the shared moments missed in our Pandemic Pregnancy