A COVID Pregnancy

« Fast spreading virus »,  « quarantine » « covid-19 ». These are not welcomed headlines when you’re 38 weeks pregnant. Add living in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language well and having your partner being a first responder. This is what I’ve been navigating the last few months. Let me tell you, it’s been a recipe for anxiety. There has been days where I bawled my eyes out. There has been days where I was angry. There has also been days where I found immense amount of strength within myself. Who do you turn to for advice in these times? No one! No one has gone through this. And no one knew the affects covid-19 truly had on pregnant women and babies yet. Now I know first hand. 



The reality to this covid pandemic is that “life goes on!”. Lots of lives have been lost but also new lives are coming into this world each and everyday and those mamas and babies are strong! (not to toot my own horn too much). 


When the covid pandemic began coming to light here in France I was 37 weeks pregnant. With one appointment left, the impending question mark of when my birth would occur and if my partner would be allowed to attend the birth/stay afterwards loomed over. 


My last appointment at the hospital was a lot more relaxed than I anticipated. The hospital was quiet and empty—along with all the hand sanitizer containers. Thankfully I brought my own sanitizer. My doctor wore a mask, I did not. At this point it wasn’t obligatory to wear masks and we didn’t know the importance. Nonetheless I did not contract covid and my doctor was not concerned in the slightest. He did encourage me not to leave the house unless absolutely necessary. 


What we new on the day of my due date was that at that moment the Dad’s were allowed to attend the birth once the mother was in active labour/received the epidural and could stay two hours postpartum. After the two hour postpartum period they had to go home and not return for the duration of the mandatory three day stay. 


March 27th—a Friday evening—my due date. My contractions began in the evening and my water broke. Not in the dramatic in the movies kind of way, I actually did not know it was my water. I continued on the evening normally. March 28th my contractions were continuing but I thought it was false labour once again. False labour was something that became extremely common for me in the weeks before this day. After lunch when I realized I was still losing water consistently we were advised by our neighbor who is a midwife that I needed to go to the hospital to get confirmation if it was my water that broke or not.  


Saturday’s in the maternity ward at the hospital are empty normally but more eerie with covid. We were able to walk in together to a seated area where Louis sat. I stood in the empty waiting room and had to ring into the locked labour and delivery area where they knew I was coming.  Everything is completely sealed and high security because of covid.


I was met by multiple midwives wearing masks and ushered into a delivery room. On the way into my room I caught a glimpse of the triage board with all the names of women in labour. Under one of the names there was the word « COVID? » in capital letters and a question mark. Very reassuring to see when you’re going into labour. 


It was quickly confirmed that my water did break.  I needed to be admitted and placed on antibiotics for 48 hours. I’d be induced after if my contractions didn’t progress naturally. You need to be placed on antibiotics once your water breaks and you’re not in « active » labour because of the risk of infection. 


I was told I had to say goodbye to Louis. The ideal situation for any women during this time is being in active labour when they arrive at the hospital. When you’re in active labour your partner can stay. At this point I was angry that it didn’t happen like that for me. Walking out to the waiting area I tried to tell myself not to cry. Of course not as I planned again. As soon as I saw Louis I burst into tears and hugged him tight. The one lone pregnant women sitting a few seats away with her mask probably felt terrified for herself witnessing this. This exciting time, knowing our baby was on the way, crushed by knowing Louis was getting robbed of the experience. I wasn’t worried about laboring by myself. I was sad that Louis wasn’t going to be a part of it. Louis stayed strong for me. He wiped my tears and I put on my big girl pants. I walked back into the labour ward. I wish I could say I remained angry at the world throughout this, for the sake of the blog. The truth is I knew I didn’t have a choice. I knew the hospital was doing what they had to do to protect everyone and the babies. There was no need to remain frustrating or sad. Our baby was on the way, and these were the obstacles I had to face to get her here. 


I was moved up to the maternity ward into a private room where I was told I could not leave my room. The halls were empty and I only knew there was other people there because I could hear babies crying. I was left in my room and told absolutely I could not leave. I did not see anyone until the next morning.


March 29th—Sunday—I hardly slept the night before as the contractions ramped up. I was feeling really discouraged. I went from being with Louis quarantined together for 2 weeks to being completely alone/sleep deprived. Not the way I pictured our babies grand entrance. I knew I had to do something to change my mindset. I wanted to create a good positive environment for the baby. I truly believe that the baby can sense all the mothers emotions when they’re in utero. It was very important for me to make feel good. Birth is bigger than ourselves. It was also important for me to be positive because our bodies are so connected to our mental. I knew if I thought negatively my body could lock up and our birthing story wouldn’t have turned out the way, in the end it did. 


I picked up my phone and I video called Louis and then all of my family members and my best friends. It was surprisingly a very magical day. I was able to include so many people into my experience. It turns out my dad was the most calming person and the most helpful to guide me through the contractions. I never would have thought to allow my dad in the labour room. Covid gifted me the experience to have my dad « there with me ». 


Sunday evening rolled around and with absolute exhaustion. The midwife gave me a pill for pain and a pill for sleep. Another night without Louis. Alone. 


3am rolled around and I woke up in the heat of active labour. I was quickly moved back down to a labour and delivery room to receive the epidural. I was allowed to call Louis and tell him to come to the hospital. It was a very quick conversation on the phone. 


Me: « Hey, you can come now. I’m moving down to the labour and delivery room » 

Louis: « OKAY!! Bye!! » 


That was it. He arrived in a swift 15 minutes. 


I received the epidural without Louis. This was another part of labour that surprisingly brought up emotions for me when I had to do it myself. In movies you always see the women clutching onto her partner for support during this time. I was clutching onto my own internal strength. 


After a long day including an induction, another epidural, many different positions, and turning the baby from her posterior position: Mathilda arrived at 19h19. I would try to describe that moment but I will never do it justice. It is a moment that will be embedded in Louis and I’s minds. A special moment that just Louis, Mathilda, and I experience together. 


Louis was an amazing support throughout everything. Louis rubbed my back, lost all circulation in his hand while I made him place his fist under my hips and checked the hallway for the anesthesiologist every time I asked him too. What a champ. I know how lucky we were that he was able to be there for the birth. If any little thing went wrong and I needed a c-section it would have been different. My heart goes out to all the women who went through a c-section alone without their partners. 


During the first two hours after Mathilda’s birth Louis and Mathilda did lots of skin to skin and Louis got to witness our little champ breastfeeding for the first time. It was the quickest two hours of my life. 


When it was time for Mathilda and I to move to the Maternity floor Louis was told to leave. Surprisingly we didn’t cry. We knew it had to happen and we couldn’t change it and I think we also knew my hormones were so wacky that if we started the water works I wouldn’t have been able to stop. Louis kissed Mathilda and we parted ways. 


The following few days in the hospital were a blur. I was filled with adrenalin so I was ok with doing everything myself. We spent most of the days on FaceTime with Louis so he didn’t miss anything. Since it is our first baby we don’t truly know the full experience we missed out on. We rolled with the punches as they came. The big thing I’m sad Louis missed was her first bath. He didn’t get to enjoy that sweet newborn smell before we washed it away. 


Three days postpartum at 11am Louis picked us up at the hospital doors. To be completely honest it felt extremely foreign reuniting with Louis after so long. My body was different, my mental state was different, Mathilda and my bond was strong, and I struggled with the idea of having to share her with anyone after three days alone together. I think these are all normal emotions to go through, but it’s not something I mentally prepared for. Thankfully everything passed quickly and Louis and Mathilda became the best of friends VERY quickly. I’m chopped liver now. 


Over the first few weeks of Mathilda’s life we were extremely careful. I never left the house unless for a short walk with Mathilda and when Louis returned home from work (fire fighter in Paris) he was quick to change his clothes and jump in the shower. The loom of covid was heavy and the unknown of how the virus affects babies scared me a lot. 


At 5 weeks postpartum I began showing the first signs of covid-19. I woke up with a runny nose, pounding headache, and feeling extremely exhausted. I thought these were all symptoms of being run down—new parent life. Throughout the week I experienced multiple other symptoms; loss of smell and taste, hot flashes, cramping, confusion, and sore joints. Seven days after my symptoms started Louis had a fever at work, and than lost his sense of smell and taste. Louis was tested shortly after and it was confirmed, covid. 


For any new moms terrified of Covid, I’m not sure if we were extremely lucky or if it is normal but Mathilda never got sick. The doctors advised we continue breastfeeding and thank goodness she received my antibodies and was safe. 


We have come to accept that my family won’t be able to see Mathilda until she’s atleast 6 months old. We have cancelled our trip home to Canada this summer and there is no plans for anyone to fly here. We have also accepted that Louis’ family won’t be able to see her for a long time as well, even though some of them also live in Paris. We are heartbroken and sad that we weren’t able to have family visit Mathilda and to help us through this transition period. We are happy that there is some amazing technology right now that helps us stay connected though. Video call and text have been amazing ways to help us share Mathilda with our loved ones. 


This is a scary time for pregnant women and new families but I believe that these babies coming into the world are strong and they’re pretty lucky to be able to tell everyone such a cool story one day. These experiences have reshaped me and taught me how strong all of us are. Even when you feel weak, you always have strength inside yourself that you can find and pull from.

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