This is written by Hannah Noble, a Mum in the middle of an unfamiliar world crisis, one I felt a few Mums could relate to and a subject we should speak about.
On 13th November 2019 I found out I was pregnant with my rainbow baby. It was so scary having early scans as I was so anxious. Then finally had my 12week scan and announced to close friends and family first and then to social media on 17th January 2020.
I was still anxious but I had settled a little, Who knew that all this would change as little as 2 months after. My world came to a halt, coronavirus hit and pregnant women were put into the vulnerable category.
I had just come round from the first 17 weeks of horrendous morning sickness having lost nearly two stone and finally on medication to help with this to then be told to go into isolation with a then 2 year old for 12weeks.
I am such an independent person and to then stop completely, only been able to take my little boy in the back garden and my husband doing the food shop and taking him elsewhere. I found this really hard on my mental health and my self esteem.
At this stage I wasn’t working as work were still trying to sort everything out due to the pandemic. So I was doing nothing until I started working from home about 2 months after and this kept my mind busy.
I started really struggling with my back and hips to the point most nights I was crawling up to bed in tears. I spoke to my midwife who suspected SPD and referred me to the hospital physio. Unfortunately the physio department at my local hospital is right next to A&E and due to the pandemic was completely closed to be used as A&E for people with symptoms of Covid19. All I was able to have was a phone call with the physiotherapist, who confirmed I had SPD and sciatica. Again due to the pandemic nothing could be done, they sent me a support belt which my husband was able to collect for me and then told to take paracetamol.
I completely understand this isn’t anyones fault. its something I struggled with prior to pregnancy and something I struggle more with post pregnancy.
Whilst in this 12week isolation one Friday, I started to feel ‘not right’ I can’t explain it just something wasn’t right. Baby was still moving as normal and I tried not to worry. Then Saturday 16th May I woke up with a slight itch all over my body. I remember my midwife saying “if you feel itchy all over with no reason it’s really important you phone”. So I phoned the hospital as it was a weekend, told not to worry and see how I went through the day. By lunchtime it had gotten much worse and was unbearable so I called again. I was told to come in, I had to go in on my own due to pandemic my husband wasn’t allowed. They put me on the monitor and baby was fine, took my bloods. I was then diagnosed with obstetric cholestasis (OC). This can affect 1 in 140 women but can be quite severe. I was told my bile acid levels would be back in a couple of days but my liver function results were only slightly over so they started me on the lowest dose of medication and told me to come back the week after for my bloods taken again, providing my vile acid levels were low. 2 days later I was called back into hospital as the bile acid results should be between 0 and 14 and mine was 144! So now escalated to severe, I had to have scans for the rest of the pregnancy and the maximum medication dose. If the levels didn’t come down then I would be induced early but at the latest i would be induced at 37wks.
The hardest thing about all of the above is I was completely on my own. No one could come with me due to the pandemic. Trying to take in all of the information and fully understand what will happen going forwards was so overwhelming. I remember I was ok then I was given whilst waiting for the medication to come. All I saw was “increased risk of stillbirth” that was a trigger for the emotions to start. I panicked I didn’t have my husband with me who is the logical thinker in our relationship and I was scared. Thankfully the consultant was still within the ward and came and spoke to me and explained fully, the risk of stillbirth wasn’t increased until closer to due date hence I would be induced no later than 37weeks.
The next few weeks felt like groundhog day, I was in hospital twice a week baby monitored and blood taken, this was until my OC was under control with max medication. As baby was growing as should on scans there wasn’t any need to induce me any earlier as long as my level continued to reduce. I remember the first scan and I was taken to room 4. This room had significance to me and not in a good sense, i remember been called to walk round to room 4 which was the furthest away. Having to do this walk on my own and previously having bad news in previous pregnancies I was petrified.
One positive thing about this is seeing my baby girl growing perfectly and seeing her happy and healthy on that screen made me feel such relief.
Fast forward to my induction date 5th July 2020 at 37weeks and 1day pregnant. I was previously told to arrive for 10am alone my husband wasn’t allowed on the ward. I was told baby would be monitored, then i would be examined a ballon inserted above my cervix and then I would be sent home. The week prior my anxiety was at an all time high, I just wanted my baby girl there safe that’s all that mattered. I remember saying to my husband that she kept sticking her bum so far out my stomach was really tight and uncomfortable. Little did I know that on the day of induction when she was monitored these were actually contractions. I was then examined and I was 1cm and they could break my waters. Time to call my husband and tell him the change of plan I wasn’t going home and would be moved to labour ward for my waters to be broken as soon as there was a bed available. At 3pm my waters were broken on the labour ward alone as my husband wasn’t given enough time to get there. He had to have his temprature taken when he arrived, which in my head I was in utter panic what if her had a temperature and missed his daughters birth. Thank fully he didn’t everything moved pretty fast my contractions doubled up so I had two 1 minute contractions back to back followed by a minutes rest. I was exhausted. At 9pm I was 4 and half cm dilated, at 11:25 approx I was 10cm. I remember my midwife going out of the room and saying to my husband I needed to push, this was all a little fast compared to my sons birth I really didn’t have time to think about it. I remember the midwife telling me to ‘go with the flow’ and push when i was ready. The first push i delivered her head, at this point my husband said the midwife started to panic she didn’t have the gloves etc on ready. The 2nd push was her body and thankfully she just caught her. My husband and I had approx 4 hours on labour ward and then I was taken back to the ward.
That was it, I couldn’t see my husband or my son until I was discharged and then I had to be taken to the door my husband wasn’t allowed on the ward at all.
Thank fully I was only in for 1 day but I felt sad, for my daughter, for the first time mum sobbing across from me because she was really young and just wanted her mum and partner. It was awful and such a contrast from the guest filled newborn stage I had with my son.
Getting home and being with my husband, son and new daughter just us in this tiny bubble was so nice. I was exhausted and in pain it was nice not to have that stream of visitors. Then I felt sad for Ivy she wouldn’t have those newborn photos with friends and family who loved her, those professional photos that my son had. I felt bad for her it isn’t a nice feeling as a mother not to be able to give your children the same.
Ivy is now 8 months old we have been to 1 session at socially distanced baby group. As there isn’t any in my area, I feel like this has had an impact on me and my mental health but has also brought me so much closer to the people in my life who mean so much to me and my children. We are able to have a support bubble but Ivy will not go to anyone other than myself or my husband. She doesn’t know anyone which again makes me so sad that she doesn’t know the people who love her so much.
The future is looking bright and hopefully as things stand I may get a few weeks where all restrictions are lifted before my maternity ends and I can take her to baby groups.
It’s also filled with more anxiety as I have to start her at nursery which as things currently stand I am unable to enter the building of where she goes to nursery. So handing Ivy over to someone at the door when I know she screams when its neither me or my husband scares me. It’s going to be tough but hopefully by then I will be able to go in with her and settle her with the people she will be staying with.
Its been a very lonely testing 12 months I feel robbed of my pregnancy showing off my bump etc and robbed of my maternity spending 90% of it alone or at the local park. That being said I have some amazing memories and I can see light at the end of the tunnel and I have my children to guide me the rest of the way.