Thank you to everyone who submitted their stories for our Parenting in a Pandemic piece. We are covering one a week for 3 months due to the response we got, all absolutely incredible pieces that show the honesty behind lockdown, what we encountered along the way and where we are now. We have decided (unless the author has requested to not be anonymous) that names and details will be withheld and have left it to them to come forward if they'd like to and if they feel comfortable.
After the very long and eventful birth of my son, we returned home and started our lives as a new little unit. It was overwhelming with countless visitors, extreme exhaustion and trying to learn all about this tiny human who now dominated the household. I gave my partner the role of visitor coordinator and greeted each one the best I could after having to have an emergency c-section and mounting sleep deprivation with every day that passed. I remember feeling extremely anxious that the time was fast approaching that he would need to go back to work and how I would cope with the baby on my own. I practised collapsing the pushchair and breastfeeding in public but a few days later as the virus continued to spread, I became more aware of the world around me and my anxieties shifted from how to cope with being a new mum to keeping myself, my newborn, my fiancé and my 12 year old step son, (not to mention my extended family) safe from this deadly virus that was spreading across the UK with immeasurable speed. My fears of going out with my son in case he screamed and needed feeding were replaced with fears of someone breathing on us and infecting us with Corona and potentially costing us our lives. And just like that, everything I had hoped and planned for for after my baby was born was stripped away from us in an instant. Lockdown was enforced and there was suddenly no one and nothing we could do about it.
I remember feeling quite naked to be honest. Literally, because I breastfeed my son, but also metaphorically as there were no groups, no visitors - nothing to hide behind and no one to ask anything. I felt guilt at not being able to take him to groups for his development and felt like a terrible mum already because he would no doubt suffer as a consequence. And actually, I think I felt I would suffer too because I needed the support of other mums and to build my ‘tribe’ I heard talked about so often. I felt guilty we needed to homeschool my step son and not having the time, energy or brain power to do this. But I held onto the fact it won’t be for long and normality would resume soon. Except it didn’t. Lockdown continued and my son was growing and changing so much and so quickly and everyone was missing out on him as well as him missing out on everyone too. At this point he didn’t even know other people existed in the world and I started to feel angry and resentful to no one in particular; I was desperate for things to return to normal. I was desperate for physical human contact, a simple hug from my family amidst everything. Something I’d always taken for granted.
I worked really hard to change my mindset though as I knew I could have it much worse. I began to actually (almost) enjoy living in a little bubble and we got into a bit of a routine between ourselves and found our ‘new normal’. My partner would take our son for an hour or so in the morning so I could catch up on sleep from the evening that passed, and then he would help his son with his schoolwork whilst I looked after and fed the baby and keep the house in some sort of order. Our life felt a little easier and I became more confident in my own ability. I had no one to impress, no pressure to be anywhere at any time and no one to hide my tired eyes from. But then the restrictions eased and visits became more frequent. People wanted to visit (a lot!) and I was very worried about hygiene and the virus still being very much present.
It suddenly became very overwhelming again and I didn’t know what the right thing to do was. I still don’t know what to do to be honest, so I am just doing my best and being as careful as I can and I am learning that this is OK. This is being a mum and I just hope that this is enough.