My baby was due on 17th December 2021. I caught Covid-19 on 6th December and on the 9th, I went into labour.
Before giving birth, hospital staff told me the contractions weren't close enough to warrant a hospital visit, but I still felt like I needed to attend. After some checks, I was only 1cm dilated and was advised to return home. On our way out, mere yards away from our car, I stopped dead in my tracks. My water broke.
Back to the hospital we went! Thankfully I was administered gas to help deal with the contractions. Many hours later, staff admitted me to the labour ward. Within five minutes, multiple doctors told me my baby’s heartbeat was weak. I needed an emergency C-section and had to quickly decide whether I wanted an epidural or to be put to sleep. I chose the epidural because I wanted to be awake for my first meeting with my baby.
Moments later I was being wheeled into the operating theatre alone. Because of Covid, my husband couldn't accompany me. I was later told he was crying down the phone to my mum, as a wave of emotion hit him in the heat of the moment.
The operation was a success. As soon as I held my baby, my husband and I burst into tears. Unfortunately, that's when my Covid symptoms got a lot worse. I had to wear a mask at all times in my room, and a radiant warmer was always on. I was burning up and struggling to breathe. Despite this, my baby’s temperature was still below what it should've been, so the heater stayed on.
The next day I developed an uncontrollable cough. Not the best thing to experience shortly after a C-section. Every cough felt like I was being torn apart and I was in tears from the pain. I tried to limit the cough by not talking and using gestures to communicate with my husband and nurses.
On day three, I was coughing up dark mucus which worried the midwives, so they sent me for an X-ray. If it didn't look good, I'd have needed a respirator. By this time my baby was technically discharged, but I was nowhere near well enough to leave hospital. My anxiety was at breaking point.
I desperately wanted to avoid leaving my husband and baby alone. I kept asking the midwives for updates, but thankfully I didn't need a respirator after all. Finally, on day four I was well enough to be discharged, armed with a handbag full of medicines along with countless dosage lists. Nightmare over. Or was it?
The physical battle was won, but a mental one was just beginning. I suffered from PTSD and postpartum depression for months. Worst case scenarios kept playing in my mind, despite everything being OK. I’d wake up drenched in sweat due to nightmares and flashbacks.
Worst of all, these mental health issues made me feel like I wasn't truly connected with my baby. A truly heart-breaking feeling for any parent.
I managed to push through numerous breakdowns and frustrations, all thanks to the help and love of my family. Motherhood isn't always as magical as it's made out to be, but it's a true blessing which I cherish daily.