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Katherine’s story: Pregnancy, birth & COVID-19 My best birth yet!

If you told me that I would be giving birth to my second child during a worldwide pandemic, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was one of those people, that when we first heard about the coronavirus outbreak in China, who thought “ahhh, it will never reach the UK!” Oh how wrong was I! As the weeks went by, I experienced the most ridiculous range of emotions. And I am sure many other pregnant women have also felt the same.

The downward spiral started for me (16th March) when the government announced that pregnant women were now classed as “vulnerable”. I had just over 4 weeks left at work before starting my maternity leave but had to leave and finish that day. It was all a bit weird. I work with my mum Linda we are both childminders so saying goodbye to my wonderful mum was bizarre. I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to the children and parents, but hopefully we will all meet up one day in the future.

I am also an infant massage instructor and had to postpone the face to face classes and move my courses online.

It’s safe to say that this staying at home business isn’t as easy as it sounds. I found it hard to focus / stay motivated / be positive. All of the uncertainty really affected me. I would make up scenarios in my head and ring Sam upset about them saying “but what if this and what if that”. Thankfully, Sam is very level headed and told me to stop worrying about things that hadn’t even happened yet.

Then the schools/childminders/nursery’s all shut. My first born Harrison has been around other children/adults since he was born, so I knew this is something he wouldn’t be used to at all and would be a massive change. Other than weekends, we don’t get to spend much time at home which meant that for the first few weeks he was absolutely loving it.

My maternity leave isn’t going to be what I imagined at all. I won’t be able to go on walks with my baby to meet my friends. This made me pretty upset at first, but I slowly started to realise the positives. We would have such valuable time as a family in our baby bubble. I wouldn’t be on my own and Harrison will have uninterrupted time to build a bond with his baby brother or sister.

At this point, I wasn’t even worried about getting coronavirus; I was worried about everything that was going to change because of it. Stories of nappies, wipes and formula being bulk bought was all over my social media. Although I planned to breastfeed and had already bought a fair few packs of nappies, all of those “what ifs” came back into my mind. But more importantly, I was becoming increasingly anxious about what labour was going to be like. Again, there were lots of rumours circulating about birth partners, visitors and appointments. Whilst I didn’t want to panic, it was hard not to. Thankfully, I joined a local Facebook page which started to do daily announcements following on from the government briefings. So I got the FACTS for my area. First they announced that there were to be no children or visitors at all and you are only allowed one birth partner. Then they announced that all appointments needed to be attended alone. My heart broke for those couples that were due to have their first scan. They then announced your birthing partner was only allowed in when you are in active labour. This really upset me as I was so worried I would be birthing alone. I think we can all agree that it is something we are so worried about. A lot of women have told me that their hospital is saying the birthing partner has to leave immediately after.

My second experience of birth and motherhood wouldn’t be at all what I expected. Part of me wanted the baby to hurry up and get here the other part wanted it to stay put for as long as possible. I feel lucky and grateful that something so positive is going to be happening to our family amongst all of this.

We celebrated my 30th birthday (8th April) lockdown style in the garden. It was a beautiful sunny day so we decided we would put the tent up and camp out in the garden I was 37 + 2 weeks pregnant. Early hours the next morning (9th April) my water broke I couldn’t believe

it!! My waters then trickled all day. That evening I phoned the maternity as I still hadn’t had any contractions or pains. They told me to come down to ANDA to get checked.

On the way to Poole maternity, we dropped Harrison off at his grandma’s.

Sam had to wait in the car while I went in. They confirmed my waters had gone and everything was ok with the baby. They said I had 24 hours to bring on my labour otherwise I would have to be induced. I was induced with Harrison so I really wanted to avoid being induced this time. We got back home at about 10pm.

That night I couldn’t sleep and for a change, it wasn’t because I was uncomfortable. I was so worried about being induced and not having Sam by my side.

I finally fell asleep but was awake again just after 1. I was overthinking everything and at 3am I gave up trying to get back to sleep and decided to get up and try to bring my labour on. At this point, I still had no pains or any contractions.

I went downstairs and put the telly on and started bouncing on my peanut ball. I had managed to catch up on the soaps and still nothing, so I decided to put some music on and was dancing and pacing around the lounge. At 5:21am (10th April) I had my first contraction I couldn’t believe it I was so excited. I decided not to wake Sam and carry on dancing and bouncing around. For the first hour my contractions were all over the place there was no pattern. I had read a hypnobirthing book so I was using the breathing techniques to help with the contractions.

I decided to wake Sam - it was just after 7am. “Babe today’s the day!” At first Sam didn’t take me serious “yeah yeah yeah” he was saying. He a few contractions later he realised I wasn’t joking around. My contractions were now about 5 minutes apart, so Sam rang the Haven Suite - it was just after 8am. The midwife on the phone said to stay at home for as long as I could. I had already decided I was going to stay at home for as long as I could cope with the pain as I didn’t want to be on my own down at the maternity. I was in labour with Harrison for 3 days so I definitely wasn’t in a hurry to get down there. I thought this labour was going to be long and horrific like the last time.

The pain didn’t seem to be that bad this time, I even managed to have a shower and wash my hair! I carried on dancing around while I dried my hair. At about 9am Sam phoned the Haven Suite again as my contractions were about 3 minutes a part. They said to come straight down. At this point I knew the baby was on its way I could feel the pressure. We quickly chucked the bags in the car and then realised we had to drop our dog Alfie off at Sam’s sisters first. Oh my gosh the journey felt like a life time! And would you believe it every traffic light was red!

My contractions were getting more intense I carried on with the breathing techniques to get me through each contraction I couldn’t believe how calm I was. We got to Poole maternity at about 9.40. My contractions were 2 minutes a part. When we got to the entrance and had to use the buzzer to be let in as the door was locked because of the Coronavirus. No one was answering for what felt like ages. I was having more contractions in the car park. A kind man who was waiting in his car to be called in when his partner was in active labour came to help. He kept trying the buzzer and then asked for a wheelchair I looked at Sam and said “that’s a bit extreme isn’t it?!

Anyway finally they opened the door and a student midwife was there with a wheelchair. I went to sit down but couldn’t and jumped straight back up.

The student midwife was very calm she said ok we can walk in as she turned around the door shut and then she realised she didn’t have her card to get back in! “Are you kidding me!” She then frantically was buzzing the bell to get us in meanwhile I was still having contractions in the car park. I actually thought I was going to have my baby in the car park! Finally, the door opens and Sam was told he had to wait in the car until he was called to come in.

I knew I was in active labour so I wasn’t worried about going in on my own as I knew Sam would be called in after they had examined me.

I remember walking in the room and thinking yes! I made it to the Haven Suite (last time I was in delivery) I looked at the clock and it was 9.48am. I asked for gas and air as soon as I was in the room. Kirsty (our lovely midwife) said yes of course but first I need to put my PPE on as she left the room I could feel baby coming. I was getting hot so opened up all of the windows.

Kirsty came back in all geared up in PPE at first it was a bit daunting but I soon got used to it. I told Kirsty my baby was coming, she couldn’t believe it as I had only just arrived = ‘quick ring your partner to come back otherwise he will miss the birth’ she said. My worst nightmare was about to happen I thought Sam was going to miss the birth.

I rang sam and told him to come quick. I could see him through the window casually walking across the car park “don’t walk RUN!!” Sam still thought I had ages to go as Harrison’s birth was so long, so he looked like he was in no rush at all.

When Sam buzzed the door they wouldn’t let him in and told him he had to wait. Sam told them I was about to give birth and she didn’t believe him. Another midwife had to run to let Sam in.

Sam just made it and a few puffs on gas & air and back rubs from Sam and our baby was born. I didn’t expect our baby to arrive so quickly. They didn’t even have time to examine me.

We didn’t find out the sex of our baby so it was a massive surprise and shock to us both when we found out our baby was a girl! We both couldn’t believe we are blessed with a girl we had to keep checking haha!

Our daughter Molly-Mae was born on Good Friday at 10 o’clock on the dot weighing 7lb 5oz.

A few minutes after our daughter was born I looked at the window and my mum was standing there! I was over the moon to see her and as she was our birthing partner with Harrison, we were gutted she couldn’t be there this time.

My mum managed to capture our first picture of the three of us through the window.

Our midwife was called Kirsty and she was so lovely and we can’t thank her enough for everything she done for us. There was no rush for Sam to leave after Molly-Mae was born in-fact he stayed the whole time until we realised we didn’t pick up the car seat.

It was a very relaxed atmosphere and there was no rush to examine Molly-Mae which was great as I was enjoying skin to skin contact. At about midday Molly-Mae was examined and everything was ok apart from her heart hadn’t closed. We were told sometimes this happens when babies are born early or if the labour is quick. So we had to stay a while longer but that was ok we were enjoying our love bubble. We had endless amounts of tea, toast and hot cross buns brought into us.

Molly-Mae was re examined a few hours later and her heart had closed so we were allowed to go home.

Sam rushed off to pick the car seat up. As soon as sam came back we were allowed to go home. We left the maternity just after 5pm.

I couldn’t wait to pick Harrison up so he could meet his new sister!

I wish that I hadn’t read so much stuff on social media. There was no mention of COVID-19 while we were there and the atmosphere was very calm and relaxing.

The first few days after Molly-Mae was born:

When we left the maternity we were told that appointments were going to be over the phone.

Day 3 we had a phone call from the midwife checking how we were and then on day 5 we had the community midwife come out to our house to weigh Molly-Mae. Molly-Mae had lost 7% of her birth weight and passed all of her checks.

Day 10 we had a phone call from the midwife again checking how we were and to say that we will now be passed over to the health visiting team. Later that day the health visitor rang and introduced herself. Our health visitor came to visit and re weighed Molly-Mae on day 10 and then came again on day 17. We haven’t seen our health visitor since but we can phone her any time.

Molly-Mae has just turned 10 weeks old. We are loving the slower pace of life and absolutely loving our love bubble. Harrison is enjoying being a big brother and is very helpful.

To all the pregnant ladies out there… we will be known as the super mummas that gave birth during a global pandemic. We got this!

Katherine x

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