Pregnant in a pandemic: As if haemorrhoids and Hyperemesis aren’t enough
If you’re pregnant right now, congrats! I hope you’re the ‘I’m a sacred vessel and a glowy bitch, my hair’s luscious as fuck, women are magical, and I’ma just rub beautiful belly all day’ kinda preggo.
But if you’re anything like me, you’re the ‘I just threw up so hard I can taste my toes, I have so much fluid on board I’m like a waterbed with feet, and how many days/minutes/seconds ‘til we can get this thing outta me?’ type. Fun times.
Even still, my wife and I were stoked to be pregnant again last year after a miscarriage and months of fertility treatment.
We already had a two year old daughter, and that precious bun in my oven was also of the female variety. We were beyond excited to welcome a fourth and final member into our all girl punk band.
As is the case for many preggos, the early days were full of anxiety and puking, crossing our fingers and toes the little mite would stick.
During that first trimester, news of the Coronavirus emerged, and it quickly became clear that the pandemic was going to make the antenatal experience pretty different to our first time at the rodeo.
We had chosen private midwifery care - the same beautiful midwife who had looked after us with Ivy (Karen, I love you and wish I could have another baby [no I don’t] just so you could be my midwife again).
Our early visits were held over Zoom, which I spend more than enough time on in my work life, thanks. This kept us all safe from Covid, of course, but just wasn’t the same as that face-to-face relationship-based care that is so wonderful about midwifery. Essentially, I couldn’t hug my beautiful Karen who was like a loving mother, highly competent care provider, and emotional support animal all rolled into one.
It also meant not being able to listen to the baby’s heartbeat at each visit - a real shitter for an anxious type like me who needed that constant reassurance she was still alive in there.
And then, of course, there were our scans, which could only be attended by the birthing parent. Those precious first glimpses of your baby are so emotional and such an important part of bonding with your future family member. For us (and everyone else in the same boat, I imagine) not to be able to experience that together was devastating, especially for Alex.
Thankfully, at each of our early scans, our baby was healthy and growing well, so I wasn’t left dealing with bad news without the support of my partner. I’m well aware that others haven’t been so lucky.
Once it came to ‘squeeze baby out of vagina day’, the hospital had limited how many people could accompany you in birth suites to two.
Obviously Alex was coming along to be sworn at and watch her daughter be born.
We’d also booked a birth photographer knowing this was our last baby and final chance to capture some stunning photos of my vagina being destroyed and my haemorrhoids in all their glory.
Two days after Luca was born, the rules changed to allow only one ‘support person’, so we were very lucky to scrape in with our birth photographer. I’ll treasure those photos of my butthole forever.
As for the birth itself, I had a beautiful, empowering, very fast, drug-free, and utterly redemptive labour and delivery. Luca was a teeny 2.46 kgs and almost spat out faster than Karen could turn around, say 'oh fuck', and lunge forward to catch the slippery little critter.
Unfortunately an hour later I had a massive heamorrhage and nearly died (that’s a story for another day). But that combined with the 'precipitous birth' (also known as fucken fast), meant that Luca and I had to spend a week in hospital. Four of those days were with her in special care sorting out her breathing and jaundice.
Thanks to Covid restrictions, only partners could visit, so Ivy couldn’t come and meet her much anticipated sister, nor could our parents come and meet their second grandchild.
By the time Luca and I were finally able to go home, it had been almost 10 days since I’d seen Ivy, and she and I melted into each other and stayed that way for a good 10 minutes. Quite the feat when you consider that the longest a two-year-old has ever sat still is 0.27 seconds. We both really needed to refill our cuddle-cups.
To all the Mamas going through the hashtag blessed experience of pregnancy, labour and birth during this motherfucker of a pandemic, I see you.
I’m not going to placate you with some cheeseball line like ‘it’ll all be worth it when your baby is in your arms’, because a) vomit, and b) that's bullshit.
Of course, we’re grateful if and when a healthy baby arrives, but the process is fucking hard and we’re allowed to say so. That kind of toxic positivity can go suck a fat one.