Ciara McGuane is an education contributor to FFHQ, owner of Rahoo.ie, wife to Tiago and mum to a three-year-old, Matteo, and a three-week-old, Frankie.
The impact of Covid-19 on my pregnancy and birth came like a bang when, on my maternity leave start date, the school and childcare closures were announced and I suddenly found myself, heavily pregnant and running around after my energetic son.
Though such a small problem in comparison with what other people are facing here in Ireland and globally, I had planned for that time to myself to relax and prepare for the new addition to our family. I had had a busy few months getting my work organised to ensure I would have down-time and that was all taken away.
Then, the biggest impact, which I didn’t see coming, was that my husband was not allowed to attend the birth of our baby or visit during our time in hospital.
I had heard on a local radio show that restrictions were in place about a week before I was scheduled to go to hospital for a C-section. I was shocked that this was happening and extremely upset.
My husband and I spoke about it and we decided to play it by ear and not to obsess over it – basically to try not to think about it. We understood the rationale for the restrictions and we felt that it was important that everyone does the right thing and abide by the rules. In that regard, I kind of postponed my anxiety and tried to get on with the new normal at home with my eldest son and my husband working from home.
On the day itself, I can’t pretend that I was stoic and brave. I was feeling extremely sorry for myself and my husband – it was surreal to be about to have a baby without your partner.
I was very emotional as I was being brought to theatre, but once they had given me anaesthetic, I pulled myself together and focused on what was happening and having a positive experience.
The healthcare team that took care of me were unbelievably kind and did all they could to make it a happy time by telling jokes and distracting me.
Once my son Frankie was born safely, I was completely fine and in mum-mode.
The obvious difference from my previous birth is that I was alone and that my husband missed the occasion. There was also, without a doubt, an added layer of anxiety for me – the what if’s can play on your mind.
Nevertheless, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining! It was actually quite peaceful and calming to be in a maternity hospital when visitors were restricted – the place was much quieter than usual and it allowed me to have a bit more rest, “me-time” and snuggles with the baby.
One of the midwives said to me that people won’t stop having babies so we will always be here – and it is true. I had one or two minor complications after I was discharged and help was always to hand. Postnatal care is as good as it has always been via my public health nurse and the maternity hospital.
Frankie is thriving – he’s doing great!
The whole thing will certainly be a story to tell him when he is older – from his birth to getting stopped by the guards on the way home from the hospital to question our journey – it is quite surreal!
I've missed out on little things like I had booked a newborn photoshoot, which I was looking forward to, and it was cancelled. I tried to DIY it but the results were mixed! Honestly, I realise how lucky we are that, in the grand scheme of things, the ways in which the virus has affected us has been small.
What I've Learned
I think it will take a while for all of us to absorb what this experience has taught us individually and as a society. It’s not over yet.
That being said, this experience, first and foremost, has taught me how privileged and fortunate I am to have had a safe place to isolate in.
I also have a new-found appreciation for our political leaders in Ireland – the really held it together and showed us their strength in a time of crisis.