Reflections on Pregnancy in Lockdown
Well it’s Day 42 of lockdown for us, and tomorrow I will be 37 weeks pregnant. It’s a month since I wrote about pregnancy in lockdown for the first time so it seems like a good time all in all to revisit the topic. These are interesting times and I will be confused in the future if I look back and hadn’t kept a record of what was going on!
If you can’t be bothered clicking back to catch up, the short version is still birth in June 2019, pregnant again about 2 months later, gestational diabetes diagnosed in February 2020 and confined to barracks as ‘high risk’ on 16th March. Easy when you put it like that!
Eat Well in Quarantine
So what’s been going on in the last month then? You’ll be unsurprised to learn that it’s pretty easy to summarise, because we have just. been. at. home. Big shout out to our wonderful friends who are keeping us fed with regular shopping trips on our behalf. Having gestational diabetes has pretty much been the most un-fun foodie health condition I can imagine (apart from all of the cheese and bacon) but the Leicester food community have made it A LOT easier for me. There are loads of small businesses I would love to be supporting right now, but can’t because we can’t get out and I can’t have carbs (I’m looking squarely at the Tiny Bakery Instagram feed here). But there are others who have been amazing.
First off, I have to salute Noni’s Family Kitchen for their surprise drop of handmade scotch eggs at the beginning of April. I was having a particularly shitty morning worrying about hospital appointments and scans and things that day, and then a courier left a package of eggs on the doorstep and everything was a little bit better. I cannot recommend these scotch eggs highly enough – and they are doing local delivery, supplying local delis and farm shops – plus you can get UK wide overnight courier delivery (and they have a shelf life of 6 days once you get them) so do look them up.
Secondly, I have to bring Butcher’s Block to your attention. Not only are they doing great work on their High Street in Bromsgrove keeping everyone stocked up with delicious and local produce, but every few weeks they are doing a delivery run in Leicester. We have had some incredible meat from them. Shin of beef which made the most delectable slow cooked dishes. Big shoutout for the quality of their local Lashford sausages and Bromsgrove eggs. Plus yesterday I added a black pudding to my order, which I can’t wait to try. A picture of my black pudding omelette from earlier this month went mini-viral, reaching 17,000 people on Twitter.
Eating with Gestational Diabetes
And of course The Boy has to get the biggest round of applause of all, since he is cooking two proper meals a day, every day, and keeping my blood glucose incredibly well in check. Plus doing all the washing up. He’s a living hero. His attention to detail with what I’m eating has seen me go from a diagnoses of Polyhydramnios (excessive amniotic fluid) to the fluid being at normal levels – the deepest pool of fluid is now less than half what it was in mid February when I was diagnosed. I have also lost 1.5kg, which is pretty incredible when you figure on that last week Bam Bam was estimated at 8lbs, so is probably a good 8.5lbs now – that’s nearly 4kg of baby alone!
It has been a lot easier since stock levels in the supermarkets and on the market are more balanced. Most of the things I put on our shopping lists for friends to collect are available now. So my weird high protein, high fat, high green veg diet continues apace.
Exercising in Lockdown
My daily walks were a great source of entertainment for me last month, with photography challenges being set by my Twitter friends to keep me stimulated. Sadly, for the last few weeks it has been impossible to go for walks, as they cause more pain than they alleviate. Ongoing hip and pelvic pain throughout this pregnancy has reached a peak (I hope!) now, and my bump is much bigger than last time (event though I am guessing this baby will be some 2lbs lighter than Pixie. Maybe.) All of that, plus not very much recovery time from being pregnant before has rendered me pretty much housebound. So in that regard I can count my blessings for lockdown, because at least I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Although, you’re all baking wonderful things and my Twitter feed is mainly wine and beer writers or makers and so there is still plenty of me to be jealous about 🤣
So the furthest I have been in some three weeks is literally the end of the drive. I’ve managed the odd bit of pruning in the garden, or dealing with some laundry, but otherwise it’s The Boy taking one for the team here and keeping everything in order. I timed myself going up the stairs in the morning the other day (when I am at my theoretical fittest) and it took about a minute. Compared to maybe 2 or 3 seconds to run up them back in ‘normal times’.
It is really very humbling to have your independence taken away and your movement limited so much. I have a new empathy for people with chronic conditions – although I am deeply hopeful that all of my conditions are temporary, and so I really cannot understand what it is like to face restricted movement or long term pain as a true way of life.
Keeping busy in lockdown
Instead of going for walks then, I have been crocheting pretty much every day. Which has been lovely. I’ve made a couple of things for Bam Bam which she will need whatever happens, I’ve made a few things for friends and at the request of Twitter friends, and even one dragon suggested by a Twitter friend which then found a home with the daughter of another. Keeping your hands busy and your mind calm is A Good Thing at this point.
Being furloughed from my company means the opportunity to spend more time writing too which I have really enjoyed, although somehow I have managed not to make much time for this blog!! I think not going out and meeting people, trying things, has stifled my blog creativity a little bit. Not being able to go out and take ‘nice’ photographs is surprisingly impactful on me. I guess I should try and spend more time with my DSLR in the house, but we’ll see. Maybe I’ll keep pottering for the time being.
Delivering a baby in lockdown
I’m hoping this post has been reasonably light hearted up to this point. We are really very lucky. The virus so far has only brushed at the very edges of our lives. We have heard of the tragic deaths of acquaintances and people relatively far removed from our circle. Yes, we have to stay at home – but I can’t move anyway so it doesn’t really make a blind bit of difference. However, when it comes to my hospital care, the picture is a little bit different. And none of this is a criticism at all. I know that the people looking after me are dealing with the most difficult time the NHS has faced in several generations. But that doesn’t change the impact the experience is having on me.
Naturally, face to face appointments are being limited. My outpatients physio was the first to go. Now midwife appointments are short and perfunctory and done over the phone. One of the key tenets of the care offered by my Rainbow Clinic at the start of my pregnancy was a continuity of personnel to help me feel secure and reduce my anxiety as much as possible. This has been absolutely impossible over the last month or two, with my primary carers often being redeployed to different hospitals as the trust manages its resources. Every appointment and scan I have now is with a stranger. I see them eyeball the ‘rainbow pregnancy’ stickers on my notes and their training to treat me with kid gloves sets in. But every conversation, every agreement I made with my key carers now has to be repeated, and in some cases, fought for.
I can’t overstate how much worse my anxiety is now. Every passing day it increases. I remember sitting in tears left alone in a consulting room during an appointment with the gestational diabetes clinic last week, where I was left alone for 20 minutes while a consultant was found. I was trying to explain to the midwife how I was scared my baby was going to die, all the time. All. The. Time. She told me there was no reason to worry as the pregnancy was going really well and there were no signs we had anything to worry about. I pointed out that was the case with my last pregnancy until I woke up on the morning of 41 weeks and my son was dead.
I am thankful Bam Bam is a little wriggler. She is happy to let me know she’s OK, but unfortunately always sluggish in the mornings, so I have a good 20 minutes each day lying in bed waiting to feel that first movement so I know she is OK. And it won’t stop. It can’t stop until we either have a baby here, safe at home, or we don’t. And I still have no idea which of those options we will be faced with in a week’s time.
The term ‘elective’ makes me laugh, a little sardonically perhaps, but laugh nonetheless. An elective c-section has been my status quo for the last 4 or 5 months for a huge number of medical reasons that it just isn’t worth me fighting against. We need to do everything we can to get Bam Bam here safely and I will take the recommendation of the experts every time to do that, even where it has (on occasion) devastated me to do so.
Now we have a week to go until our c-section, booked for 5th May. Happily, whatever happens now, it looks like The Boy will be present for the birth of his daughter. Currently the rules will allow him to stay with us for 45 minutes afterwards in recovery, but when I go to the ward, he will have to go. The virus is passed the peak in the UK now we are told, so perhaps there is a slim chance that he might be able to come to the ward with me by then, but we’re not planning for it. It is another ruinous blow to my mental well being and no doubt it’s not great for him either. I have no idea what will happen if anything goes wrong. At the moment all we have is the hope that Bam Bam will be born quickly and safely, and we’ll be home 24 hours later. I cling to that, but I know from bitter experience that it isn’t necessarily going to be that simple.
I think I need to get my hospital bag together soon and see what baby stuff we have. I still can’t face it. I remember packing my bags for Pixie – a bag for me and a bag for him, in case there was a problem with our home birth and we had to go to the hospital unexpectedly. And I remember my heart breaking in those days before I went into hospital to deliver Pixie, knowing he was already gone, having to take all of his bits and bobs out of the bag that we didn’t need any more. Little nappies, a change of clothes, a supply of fresh out of the box muslins. All things he didn’t need. Just one little outfit was all that was required. All the rest of things are no longer his things. They are baby things and now I am hopeful, but not yet optimistic, that we will need them once more. And then there was the little hat I’d made for him, which he did need.
I think I made a second matching hat, when I made Pixie a second hat to be buried in. So much of that time is a blur to me now. I think my brain is trying to gently smudge the edges of those raw memories for me. And I am hoping that I made another one in case Pixie got a brother or sister one day. Now we might be a week away from meeting her, and I can’t even bear to look in the boxes from the loft to check if I did make her a hat, or whether I imagined it and she will still need one.
I honestly don’t know where we’ll be next Tuesday evening. We’ll have stopped being high risk, although I imagine we won’t be rushing out to do our own shopping. If we are allowed to get Bam Bam home safe, we’ll be keeping her here until the storm has passed. And it means our families will not see her, and that will be heartbreaking. But it won’t matter, so long as she is safe. We know our friends and family will wait for as long as it takes, if only we can get her home safe.