Bio: Kamal Kaur Reehal, Senior Digital Marketing Officer for Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals’ Charity. My experience being pregnant with my second child and now on maternity during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Born During the Covid-19 Pandemic.
It’s mid-2019 and our family are overjoyed when my husband and I announce we are pregnant with our second child. Arriving six years after our daughter, we begin to look forward to the little one’s arrival and I’m excited to become a mummy again to a newborn.
As someone who plans and loves writing endless to-do lists, I had 2020 all planned out from the start. From visits to the Gurdwara, to family get togethers, to days out – 2020 was going to be a lot of fun. Little did I know that my planning would all be in vain as we are in the middle of a world-wide crisis – unplanned, unprecedented and unpredictable. Looking back, I think this is where my anxiety levels started to climb – from having my careful plans completely scrapped and nothing set in its place. At the beginning, I felt annoyed that this outbreak messed up my perfect planning as I wasn’t sure whether I’d even be able to give birth at the hospital! Luckily, my antenatal care wasn’t affected as the UK wasn’t implementing any social distancing measures at this time. I still had my appointments at my GP surgery and Birmingham Women’s Hospital as normal.
Like many pregnant women, I was concerned about giving birth during the Coronavirus outbreak. I went on maternity leave in February and at that point, I realised how serious the situation was spiralling out of control, it was becoming frightening and I spent many sleepless nights wondering about my antenatal and postnatal care.
As it was, I gave birth to my son and was safely home before the disease was declared a Pandemic and stricter self-isolation and social distancing measures were put in place by the UK Government by March 16. Truthfully, this was when I got really scared. Scared for my young daughter, my new baby and my family and friends.
My postnatal home visits from my community midwife and health visitor were subsequently cancelled or rearranged. This didn’t mean I didn’t have access to any healthcare, it just meant that steps were being taken to reduce the risk of the virus spreading rapidly with face to face contact.
Then the comparison kicked in, when my daughter was born, we had endless visits from friends and family, all eager for those first kisses and cuddles. How different and quiet it’s been during the first weeks of my son’s life when he hasn’t had the same precious moments with everyone. Close family managed to squeeze in a quick visit the weekend before the lockdown was announced but we’ve had no physical contact since. Again, I’ve found this hard to cope with, not only is it upsetting we can’t be together, I’m also worried about my family’s own safety and care. Not being able to see them makes me even more determined to ride this out and get it over with. One positive from this is that it has allowed my baby to settle into his own routine of sleeping and feeding, rather than me worrying about people coming over and unsettling him.
Now we are a few weeks into the lockdown and if I’m to be completely honest, my initial anxiety seems to have faded and I’m embracing the time at home. I’ve worked hard to achieve a positive mindset over the past months, which I ultimately think has helped me see the wider picture. The past year has been a whirlwind both personally and professionally, it’s really refreshing not having to rush about from the minute I wake up. As a busy working mum, I had to juggle everything and fit things in. During lockdown, I’ve had time to do things at a more leisurely pace and combined with my children keeping me busy, the days are flying past. I’m especially enjoying the time I’m getting to spend with my daughter. I think it’s nice to see the world in general benefiting from this new slower pace of life too.
It’s so easy to be consumed by negative thoughts from time to time, but I’m learning to counteract these by limiting the amount of media I’m exposing myself to and even then, ensuring it’s from a trusted source. There is a lot of bad media out there and with that comes scaremongering and fear. I’ve also found it helps to delete or limit those WhatsApp videos as soon as you get them!
Like most of us, I’m missing my family and friends, but we’ve found a renewed love for talking and making time for one another without any external disruptions. We now spend longer on phone calls and Facetime and have a good old chat. I’ve also spoken to people I haven’t spoken to in a while and it feels great to reach out and see what’s going on in their lives and to feel connected again.
Taking time out each day to practice some simple Naam Simran or listen to Shabads has become one of my favourite rituals and helps keep me in Chardi Kala (positive thoughts). I usually do this when I’m bathing the baby or when getting the children ready for bed. Other ways I’ve embraced this downtime is by connecting with other new mums, especially via Instagram. Building up a support network is important to me and really helps curb the blues. So many new mums’ feel the same as I do and it’s comforting to know I’m not alone. We’re all on this journey together. I’ve also had a huge social media cleanse and unfollowed accounts that don’t add value or increase my knowledge in any way.
Whilst I’ve been on maternity leave, I’ve assisted in helping our NHS staff look for alternative accommodation as ‘safe havens’ and sourced hot meals for them whilst they are sacrificing their own safety to protect our patients. I’m still trying to support my Fundraising colleagues to help drive donations to the urgent Covid-19 Appeals we’ve put in place. The funds raised will be directed towards supporting our NHS heroes on the frontline and the women, children and families in the hospitals’ care. More information can be found on the charity websites, social media pages for the charities or on my Twitter (@kam_kaur).
So… keep in mind we’re all in this together, our lives will improve considerably after these drastic few months. We can’t control what is happening, but we can control how we react to it all. Stay home, protect our wonderful NHS and save lives.
I sincerely hope this helps those reading my blog and believe you can get through this as I have. Do get in touch with Sikh Forgiveness for further guidance.