As the world prepares to turn its back on a year that has offered little to smile about, one happy thing about 2020 was the birth of my first child…
Ahead of the curve by beginning ‘self isolating’ two months before the first UK lockdown and born during the second however, my son would have a right to feel short-changed.
And for those saying the second UK lockdown was a lot ‘easier’ than the first, as a new parent, I can tell you now that both brought their own set of challenges.
On the evening of 23 March during which Boris Johnson made his historic announcement, people panic buying in supermarkets was already a thing. I stood among them in a near-empty aisle, tearfully convinced I wouldn’t be able to buy any nappies in seven months time when my baby was due.
Thankfully, nappy supplies didn’t turn out to be a long-term problem – especially given the number we now get through! Other issues did arise though, including my partner being pushed out of the pregnancy by not being allowed to attend appointments or scans with me. Due to lockdown restrictions, we weren’t even able to physically see each other for over two months as we weren’t living together; at an already emotional time, it was really tough.
Fast forward to giving birth and the pandemic was still calling the shots with my partner only being allowed in once the baby was about to make his dramatic appearance.
Whereas the first week of a baby’s life would usually be spent bonding as a family, medical complications meant we both needed to stay in hospital. Despite my mum and dad phoning every other hour for updates, only my partner was allowed to visit during the reduced visiting hours. Some may argue we were ‘lucky’ he was allowed to visit at all, but try telling that to a new mother having to call at 4am to discuss giving permission for their two-day-old baby to undergo a serious procedure.
They say with a new baby your world gets smaller, and after we were finally allowed home under a winter lockdown, that was certainly the case. Whereas going out would provide expected logistical challenges, there was now nowhere to go save for supermarkets which according to Public Health England, are the most ‘common exposure’ setting for the virus – great! Also, unlike our confinement in summer which saw a heatwave, temperatures have dipped, nights are drawing in, and the gloom around the global situation feels more pronounced.
Until he has his immunisations I certainly won’t be taking him on public transport which makes things extra tricky without a car. Phoning the GP to try and make the appointment, I was told that there was a backlog. “We’ve seen a bit of a baby boom, perhaps due to lockdown,” the receptionist told me. I fell pregnant before lockdown.
Will my little one’s life always be like this? Scheduled Zoom calls with the grandparents, only being able to introduce him to friends via social media?
While pregnant, I signed up to an NCT (the UK’s leading charity for parents) course to meet other local expectant mums, but even that was moved online.
Lack of clarity around what the government now says is and isn’t allowed, especially with Christmas coming up, doesn’t help. One relative ‘joked’ about hoping to be able to meet him before he started walking. But with the new tier restrictions expected to last until Easter, we could at least be looking at crawling territory. It’s a sad situation for all.