Giving birth during a pandemic – My Story

Giving birth during a pandemic – My Story

It’s taken me quite a while to get round to writing Ava’s birth story, almost 3 months in fact. I wasn’t sure if I was going to share it at all until speaking to someone on social media made me realise that if nothing else it would be good for me to have a record of it. So here we are.

Giving birth during a pandemic was never something I envisaged.

Back in October when we found out I was pregnant nobody had heard of Coronavirus, and even through those initial months of the pandemic and lockdown I still thought things would be back to normal by the time Ava arrived.

But as time went on and lockdown continued my birth plans were up in the air. The birth centre I wanted to give birth in was closed, lots of restrictions were in still in place and that didn’t look like changing.

I had growth scans throughout my pregnancy due to Emilia’s low birth weight. At my last 2 scans there were some concerns over baby’s growth so at 39 weeks I was recommended an induction. I have to admit that it was not something I wanted but because of the circumstances with Covid and having to have childcare in place for Emilia we decided that if it was offered we would go with induction. I felt nervous but OK about it and happy that we could be prepared.

When the day came, Danny & Emilia dropped me off at the hospital and I was feeling relaxed and happy.

I knew it would take some time but I looked at the positives. I had time to relax before the chaos of a new baby. I had my Kindle, some films & TV shows downloaded. I knew it wouldn’t be a spa day but as I hadn’t been on my own for 3 months it was a bit of a revelation.

Almost immediately though things weren’t going to plan. I was told on the Thursday evening that the induction would not be started then and that I would have to wait until Friday. I wasn’t allowed home I just had to wait it out. I stayed positive, what’s one more day.

It wasn’t particularly relaxing though either, I was woken every few hours for monitoring and whilst the staff were great, there was nowhere to go due to restrictions we were pretty much confined to the ward. I could venture to the car park for some fresh air though.

Friday morning came, I was examined and as I was already at 2cm I didn’t need a pessary. I was put straight on the waiting list to go to a delivery suite and have my waters broken. Should have been good news but I was told that due to how busy the hospital was it would be about a 3 day wait. I did everything I could to get the baby moving, walking round the car park and bouncing on a birthing ball. Far from relaxing it was boring, I read books, watched football, films and waited. And then waited some more.

Sunday came and after 3 days I was finally collected for delivery. I rang Danny to hot foot it over and off I went. This was about 3pm, I was hooked up to monitors and once Danny arrived at around 4pm my waters were broken. I was told they would see how I progressed before giving me the hormone drip. I was feeling quite calm, they were leaving us to it and it was just so nice to see Danny. Maybe the oxytocin kicked in at that point, as my contractions started pretty quickly.

There was however concerns over baby’s heartbeat. Due to her position they were struggling to consistently monitor it so after speaking to a consultant they made the decision to start the drip. But Ava had other ideas, and there was no time. She decided she wanted to make a swift entrance and my contractions began to ramp up on their own. It wasn’t long before I was struggling and agreed to having some gas and air.

I didn’t get on well with gas and air when I was in labour with Emilia, it made me sick but I couldn’t have got through my labour with Ava without it. It got very intense very fast, and it wasn’t long before I was feeling the need to push.

I have to say the midwives were amazing. I’ve been really lucky both times in that respect.

They were very relaxed and just told me to go with what my body was telling me. They guided me but I wasn’t pressured into examinations and was able to move positions when I felt the need. There was a slight bit of panic as I was pushing and the midwives were switching shifts, the new midwives had to make a very quick change to get ready as Ava literally flew out. 2 big pushes and there she was. All 8llb 10 of her. At 10 to 8 on 28th June 2020 our second beautiful girl was born.

It was a very different experience with the restrictions in place. As soon as Ava arrived it seemed like there was a rush to get me out of the delivery suite and up to the postnatal ward. I was moved off the bed quite soon after Ava arrived and ended up feeling very faint. I was shaking and genuinely felt panicked that there was something really wrong. I managed to eat some of the infamous post birth toast and luckily I came round and managed to give Ava her first feed.

I was quickly shown to the shower and had to get ready, it was all a massive blur I have to admit. I didn’t feel I got a real chance to bond with Ava, as much as I tried.

I was expecting to leave with Danny a few hours after Ava was born as that had been the guidance. However I was told due to some slight complications that we would need to stay in for at least 12 hours. Ava & I were whisked up to the postnatal ward at about 10pm and Danny headed home.

This was really tough mentally. I wasn’t prepared to be on my own so soon after giving birth, and honestly that first night was hell. Ava may have been my second baby but I felt completely abandoned. The ward was dark as it was late, and everyone’s curtains were already closed. The midwife who took me up left swiftly and there I was a few hours after giving birth, in the dark feeling totally alone with my new baby.

I definitely took for granted the support I had with Emilia. Having people there to pass you the baby, change their nappy and even help you to the loo. I found the 24 hours I was on my own with Ava so emotional. Luckily the next morning in the daylight I chatted to the other new mums on the ward which made it easier but still felt extremely lonely.

The 24 hours we were supposed to be in were up but there was no sign of me being discharged. Everyone else in my room had gone and I felt so emotional at the thought of staying in another night. So much so I ended up breaking down to the midwife, I just couldn’t stop the tears.

It helped though as they rushed through my discharge and finally at around 10pm, 5 days after I first went in, 26 hours after giving birth I was home with my baby girl ready to start our life as a family of 4.

Giving birth is such an incredible experience and whilst the pandemic may have changed things a little I feel incredibly grateful to have my 2 girls and to have had 2 relatively positive albeit very different birthing experiences.

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