January / February
I rang in the new year 13 weeks pregnant with our fourth baby, relieved to be at the end of a long first trimester with a lot of morning sickness.
I had been dealing with low level depression for the majority of 2019 and then it really kicked off in late December 2019/ January 2020. Pregnancy hormones screw me over generally, and this time I’d had to abruptly withdraw from some medication, and I don’t think that helped matters.
Anyway, I spent these months pretty much hating myself, pondering my worth as a living breathing person, and avoiding contact with people outside of my house when I could (oh the irony).
Also Jan / Feb: Sam and I started chatting about this new virus in China. It was the main newsworthy item we discussed during these early months of 2020. It all seemed quite far away at that stage. People on Facebook were absurdly worried about eating at their local Chinese restaurant. Then Coronavirus came to Brighton via a ‘super spreader’ but the UK managed to contain it.
It felt like those in charge had good control over it, and that Coronavirus might not turn out to be as big an issue as we had speculated, certainly not as bad as it was in Wuhan.
Suddenly lots more people were testing positive for Coronavirus in hospitals all over the UK. It must have been around in the general population way more and for a lot longer than we thought. As there was no tests available for the general public, there was no way to tell. We only had figures for the cases serious enough to be in hospital, and those were on a steep rise.
My last day of normality – if you can call watching the WHO conference on TV at the pub ‘normality’
We took the kids out of school. Which at the time seemed pretty huge, as we had no idea that schools would close just 10 days later. We could just see that it wasn’t looking good, hospitals were stretched, and pregnant people in the 3rd trimester had been told to shield / isolate, so it didn’t make sense to have the kids in school.
Homeschooling begins – We thought it would be for 3 weeks, maybe 6 weeks at most. It was 4 months.
Also in March: A week before lockdown, we saw a house we wanted to offer on, and decided to get our house on the market (great timing – obvs that didn’t pan out)
March / April
After some persuasion from Sam, I told my midwife I was struggling with health anxiety, birth anxiety, and low mood in general.
We started down the avenue of getting therapy, but those resources vanished in early lockdown. The homebirth team ceased operating, so my caseloading midwife was assigned to labour ward and I was assigned elsewhere. I was also meant to be asking the GP for different medication, but switching midwife teams at this point gave me an easy loop to slip through and no one really chased up with my progress at a time when I was happy to do my best NOT to get help.
Many, many dog cuddles were had during lockdown 1
Also during this time: I found the early months of lockdown quite challenging having the kids (and Sam) at home. I had really needed time alone, to be depressed, to sleep (I was in a bad cycle of insomnia, which is usually tied in with bouts of low mood for me). And suddenly that time was gone. Being alone in the day gave me the energy to deal with the kids after school, to be as present for them as I could. Having them here all day every day left me with nowhere to mentally recuperate.
Out on some of our many ‘daily permitted exercise’ walks round our local park.
The month of 3 lockdown birthdays and many doorstep visits.
Due to Covid, mortgage lenders stopped counting commission (which is at least 50% of Sam’s earnings). Unable to go ahead with our house move plans we decided to reassess once we’d got this whole ‘having a baby during a pandemic’ business out of the way (how many challenges do you want to give yourself at once?)
The month we figured we were having a baby. So we isolated from early June, to make sure neither of us had Covid or similar symptoms as Sam wouldn’t have been allowed to attend the birth.
Just as I entered full term, the lockdown restrictions started loosening. I felt more anxious than I had during full lockdown, as the odds of catching Covid seemed higher now people were mixing and moving more, it felt like there was less control, and now I was in the final weeks of pregnancy, the weeks where I REALLY didn’t want to catch Covid.
Bay arrived late so we ended up isolating from early June until the end of July all in all. This also meant when schools reopened in the summer weeks, our children remained at home so as not to bring Covid back with them when I was so close to giving birth.
For the last 6 weeks of pregnancy, I was closely monitored for signs of Obstetric Cholestasis, which I’d had in my third pregnancy with Otto, and was borderline this time round. This meant twice weekly trips to the maternity day unit for CTG monitoring and bloods.
This was a day I was SO HAPPY to be told I could go home and didn’t have to be induced yet. It was SO HOT on the wards.
Aside from those trips, I was at home 24/7. The weather was great and other families were starting to go out on day trips etc, meanwhile I felt guilty that most days I couldn’t even manage a short walk around our local park without needing a wee (fourth pregnancy problems!) rendering most outings impossible because all public toilets were shut because of Covid.
Baby month! After going 2 weeks overdue, Bay was forcibly evicted and caused a dramatic entrance in theatre (still need to get that birth story written).
After only leaving the house for a walk some days and spending many days in my PJs, I set foot in my first shop since early March on the day of my induction. ALDI. Monumental.
Pretty much straight away after Bay was born my mood lifted dramatically. I think it must have been chemical / hormonal, plus the birth anxiety done and dusted.
We went to Pembrokeshire. With a 4 week old. It was always the plan, even before the pandemic. We did a lot of walking and I spent a lot of time present with the kids in a way I probably hadn’t been for the past few months. It wasn’t a relaxing holiday with a newborn and I was absolutely SHATTERED. But in a good way. We were out and about again! After so long!
What is school? I can’t remember. But the kids went back there this month. Otto started in reception.
I embarked on somewhat of a delayed fourth trimester maternity leave with a two month old. Where we went back to basics and did not very much. Except, oh yeah, our house went on the market this month so ‘not very much’ actually involved keeping a house showroom tidy 3-4 times a week and is actually a full time job with a newborn.
Found a buyer. Found a mortgage. Found a house. Lost mortgage (thanks Covid!), lost house. Even more tighter lending restrictions than before massively changed our parameters and we began preparing to move a LOT further out of London and basically change our location plans (that had taken years to finally agree on). In other words, this was an annoying, bad mood month.
I got really REALLY stressed at having to keep the house clean and tidy for viewings, and needing to be out of the house for stretches of time when there wasn’t anywhere we could go (pandemic) and we were now in the dark and cold months.
I felt quite broken this month.
Also in October: Our eldest, Arlo, celebrated a big birthday turning double digits. 10!!
Much the same. Except with added second lockdown as our government are twats and didn’t control the virus enough.
By this point Sam and I were in some kind of unmentioned competition as to who could go the longest without a haircut.
Stuff on the house front starts moving again. For now it looks positive, but as we’ve experience a lot this year, a lot can change. For now I will cross my fingers and say no more.
Thanks to Tier 4 and no household mixing, we have our very first family Christmas at home. It is weird, but it is OK.
Socially distanced Christmas doorstep visits
2020, you have been weird, stressful, unpredictable, sad, worrying, lonely, limiting, and different in many ways. But we gained a family member, and I count ourselves incredibly fortunate to have been able to say we came through this year OK.
The best of the rest in photos:
The theatre and a Palace match before life changed.
Face masks became a thing in 2020
Registering Bay’s birth
Lots of baby brother cuddles
The one day of 2020 where I wore makeup
A really lovely summer holiday in Wales
Our handsome woofer
A bunch of boys
The dreaded Covid app message
When you can‘t visit Father Christmas, he comes to you.