Being a first-time parent is full of new experiences, and in these uncertain times the pregnancy journey is entering even more unfamiliar territory, with fresh challenges
I’m pregnant! I am actually pregnant, and I am buzzing with excitement. Just saying the words out loud blows my mind – yes, this is really happening!
All my life I’ve dreamed of motherhood, and even more so since meeting my partner, Lee. I knew he would eventually become the father of my children and now, BAM, there is life inside of me. Every day I wake up and am so thankful that I’m growing our baby boy. In the past few weeks I’ve felt his first tiny kicks. They’re so light and fleeting, but every few days when I feel him move, it is the most amazing feeling.
We found out on 1 July that we were expecting, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. My early symptoms were tiredness, cravings for egg mayo sandwiches, chin breakouts, and stretch pain. I also felt like I was constantly jet lagged, so seeing the positive pregnancy test made sense. I finally knew why I felt off for so long, and could barely muster the energy to run a glass of water, let alone work and socialise.
Nevertheless, we are more than half way now, and the initial disbelief and excitement still remains. I am in awe of my body and how capable it is, I am unbelievably grateful to be pregnant, healthy, and experiencing this entire process, and I’m incredibly excited to give birth (seriously!), and welcome our baby boy to the world.
However, while I feel so empowered and confident about pregnancy and labour, I would be lying if I said there haven’t been times that I’ve felt low. But these low moments, and feelings of sadness or doubt, aren’t specifically about pregnancy, but more to do with pregnancy during a pandemic.
Lockdown came with its own set of emotions and feelings for us all. Individually, I felt OK with it, but I worried for other people – especially friends and family. This pandemic is unlike anything we’ve ever faced, and with a growing lack of faith in our government, I’ve really empathised with the anxiety and stress felt through society.
And then, the hospital appointments and baby scans went into my diary along with a very important note of: “You will have to attend this scan alone due to our hospital’s Covid-19 rules and regulations.” Suddenly the excitement we felt together, and the milestones we would be reaching, were going to be taken away from us.
In every scan and appointment, Lee has been told to wait outside. Hospitals make me anxious at the best of times, but even more so when I am being examined or spoken to about pregnancy and labour. It’s daunting, and I view this as our pregnancy – his opinion and feelings matter in this experience too, but it seems like nobody’s acknowledging that.
When our baby boy is wriggling around on the screen, Lee misses that – which makes us both feel sad – so every now and then we pay for scans at a private clinic. Those scans are our saving grace, but what about those expecting parents who can’t afford to pay for private scans, or who don’t have access to a clinic close to them? This pandemic affects everyone, and I can’t help but think it hits lower income families, and less privileged people, the hardest.
I am in awe of my body and how capable it is, I am unbelievably grateful to be pregnant, healthy, and experiencing this entire process
I feel angry and frustrated that pubs, gyms, and schools are open, but an extra person – often the other parent – is excluded, and not allowed to support their partner through appointments. I do wonder why maternity and antenatal care is being affected like this, with little-to-no explanation.
There is now a petition, #butnotmaternity, raising awareness of the difficulties faced by those on a pregnancy journey, and highlighting the fact that other activities allow multiple people to be present. Pregnant people can work at hospitals, and we can travel abroad, but a partner/friend/relative of an expecting mother is not allowed in appointments or scans. I truly believe this treatment is rooted in sexism, patriarchal views, and misogyny – pregnancy is viewed as not as important.
Being pregnant in a pandemic isn’t easy, but I am trying to remain positive. I understand these are unprecedented times, but I don’t think that is a reason for the current maternity rules and regulations, and resulting lack of support expecting parents are experiencing. There is a life growing inside of me, and I am over the moon that I am in the position I am, but that doesn’t take away the fact that two people made this baby, and yet one of them is constantly excluded.
Big love to all who are pregnant during this pandemic – especially first-time mothers like myself, who may feel the impact more heavily. May all of us have happy and healthy pregnancies and births, and get the support we rightfully deserve.
If you haven’t signed the #butnotmaternity petition on change.org yet, please do!
Love Grace x
Come back next month for more from Grace!