• Katy Rigg

Reanne and Charlie - 13th April

There is so much courage in Reanne’s story, who felt very anxious and alone when she first went in to hospital to be induced with baby Charlie without her partner David by her side. Labour is less likely to progress quickly when adrenaline spikes and the happy, love hormone oxytocin is unable to flow. It’s for these reasons that the role of a birth partner is so valuable in making the mother feel safe and loved, something that was jeopardised for so many couples with tight lockdown restrictions.

Myself and my partner David found out I was pregnant with our first baby on 7th August 2019. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever be pregnant, give birth and bring up a newborn baby during a worldwide pandemic. Hearing how this virus was spreading like wildfire across the whole world filled us with fear. I remember feeling so overwhelmed and shocked and, I suppose, in disbelief at what was happening in the world. Our baby boy was due on 2nd April 2020. On 23rd March, I remember watching Boris Johnson on TV announcing a national lockdown. To say my heart sank was the ultimate understatement. All I could think of was, 'How will I give birth with all this going on?', 'When will I see my family again?', 'No one can come and see the baby'. The list of these questions goes on. But I couldn’t keep thinking of how bad the situation was. I knew the most important thing was delivering our baby boy safely and I had to be strong for him throughout all this madness. So that is exactly what I did.  Two days before I went into hospital to be induced, we found out the rules for partners being in hospitals had changed. No partners at all were allowed in the maternity wards. I couldn’t believe I had to go into hospital to have our first baby alone. Waving goodbye to David as he dropped me off with my bags was one of the most surreal things, knowing I wouldn’t see him until our son was coming.  As I got shown around the ward, it was so sad seeing mums scared in their beds, on Facetime to loved ones back safely in their homes. I got settled in feeling all the emotions you could think of. Excited, as I knew within the next day, I would be meeting my beautiful son, a moment I had dreamed about for what seemed like a lifetime. On the other hand, I was incredibly anxious knowing that there were Covid patients on a ward somewhere in the hospital. It began to freak me out and became too overwhelming. To be honest, I never liked hospitals. I’m not sure anyone does.  Midwives were in and out assessing me all through the night. I'd been on the phone to David constantly updating him on the situation. They decided to move me to another ward where I could be monitored closely. For over 12 hours now, I was having small contractions but nothing peaking. Our baby was too comfortable in there.  Being alone through all this without David by my side, like he has been with everything throughout the pregnancy, was honestly awful. I'm quite an anxious person when it comes to anything medical related so to not have his hand to hold or see his smile or even just reassure me everything was okay was horrible. With the midwives that looked after me, all I could see were eyes where the masks covered their mouths. It seemed like forever where I hadn’t seen a smile.  I remember waking up the next morning, wondering when things would get going. My heart rate monitor kept beeping for ages. Both mine and the baby’s heart rate was increasing and decreasing at a dangerous rate. I knew in the back of my mind I could end up giving birth to him via a c-section and in the end, it was the quickest and safest option. The midwives pressed an emergency button, and next thing I knew, I was being whisked off to the theatre to have an emergency c-section. To my relief, David had been called and was making his way to the hospital.  My anxiety levels were through the roof. I just wanted our baby to arrive safely. The emergency c-section was carried out and I can remember seeing our gorgeous little boy’s face for the very first time. That feeling was the most incredible feeling I have ever experienced. The baby boy we've been dreaming of was finally here. Charlie David Impey was born 13th April 2020 weighing 8lb 8oz.  I was so lucky to be in the care of the most incredible midwives and doctors. They were so fantastic I couldn’t thank them enough. Myself, David and Charlie spent the next 8 hours in recovery. Having David by my side was amazing and I felt so safe. I felt extremely lucky to have had recovered very well and was allowed home the following night.  Taking Charlie home was amazing, although very surreal. The streets were eerily quiet and felt like we shouldn’t be out. I could hardly walk but I was determined to get our baby son home safely.  Going home to an empty house, no family round, no friends round was weird. No one else to hug apart from each other. We were so strong, we had to be.  The first few weeks are a real blur, thinking back now. But of course it was the most special time just the three of us bonding as a new family together. We felt so lucky to have this time together, but all I wanted was our family around us to enjoy Charlie as a newborn.  

We had endless Facetime sessions with everyone. This is not the way I imagined showing our lovely baby boy off to family and friends, however of course it was the safest way.  Charlie is now 18 weeks old and he’s honestly amazing. He’s such a beautiful, happy baby and I'm so grateful he would have never known he missed out on those first newborn cuddles or what madness was going on in the world. Watching him grow and change everyday is beyond amazing. I’m so proud of myself and David for bringing up this lovely boy in the most uncertain times anyone has ever experienced.  One thing that will stay with me and will forever remind me of how strong I can be is the fact I spent the majority of my time in hospital alone, knowing the decisions I made for both me and Charlie were the right ones and I feel I can do anything now. That bond we have as a family already is amazing.  I will end this crazy reflection on what happened when I became a first time mum in lockdown just by saying how incredible the NHS staff really are. Every single member of staff I came across in hospital were absolutely amazing. To go to work everyday on the frontline scared and worried and putting themselves at risk. But it is their job and they are honestly all angels in my eyes. 

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