A Mama Less Ordinary: Pregnancy in the age of coronavirus

Grazia’s mummy columnist Jade Chilton sheds light on how it feels to be pregnant during this global pandemic and how we need our solidarity now more than ever
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A Mama Less Ordinary: Pregnancy in the age of coronavirus

Jade Chilton is Grazia's mummy columnist

“You’re fit and healthy, Jadey! Keep washing those hands and don’t mix in big groups of people,” was the stoic reply from a friend via Whatsapp as we picked through my concerns of Covid-19 six weeks ago. This was a typically solid message from my upbeat and positive friend who’s the daughter of a GP. They were kind words but they didn’t quash my overwhelming feeling of uncertainty. Two days later she messaged again and this time the tone was different. “I was thinking about our chat and I wasn’t really thinking when replying,” she typed. “I’m sorry if I wasn’t helpful.” I truly appreciated her acknowledgment. Her first message certainly had a point and her heart was in the right place – I am fit and healthy, I wash and sanitise my hands too many times per day to count (even prior to this pandemic) and have been self-isolating for over a month – but being told ‘it will all be ok,’ when no-one really knows if it will, wasn’t what I wanted or needed to hear.

Raising a toddler has helped me to understand the importance of acknowledging feelings no matter how small they may seem. Little ears don’t want to be told to “calm down/it will be ok/don’t cry.” They want to be held, listened to and allowed to wail. And this applies to adults too, we don’t want to hear those words when we are worried, anxious or just need a good blub. It’s definitely no different when you’re 34 weeks pregnant, either, when fear of the unknown is a common theme that runs through every trimester.

“Is it selfish for me to wallow, feel overwhelmed and cry when others are going through a much more stressful and serious time?” I ask my husband. “Of course not, you’re pregnant, it’s understandable,” he replies supportively. I guess he’s right, even putting the pregnancy aside, we are all going through our own battles of lockdown life, whether that’s the death of a loved one, a job loss, a pay cut, loneliness or struggling with working from home, and we all need to give ourselves an outlet to unpick these issues regardless of who is in a worse situation and acknowledge each other’s anxieties.

So here’s to the heavily pregnant mum who is due to give birth in a matter of days and can’t get to grips with the ever-changing hospital rules and consequently has a stream of questions running through her mind – Will I have to wear a protective mask during labour? Will my husband be allowed in the labour room?

Here’s to the new mum who worked her ass off all year to be rewarded with a few months’ maternity leave of playdates, baby cinema outings and beach picnics, all of which have been cancelled by corona.

Here’s to the mum who is losing sleep over information from her doctor that some hospitals in Dubai are not allowing mums with Covid-19 to hold or see their baby immediately after birth – not even to breastfeed – until they test negative, a traumatic thought to say the least.

Here’s to the first time mum-to-be whose husband can’t come into the doctor’s room for the important (and daunting) 20-week scan to hold her hand.

Here’s to the expat mum who had grandparents planning to fly over and meet their grandchild and support their daughter at a time when she needs them the most and now has no clue when they will be introduced.

Here’s to those mums with newborns who are terrified to take their precious bundles into hospitals for check-ups and vaccinations.

Here’s to the mum who feels likes she’s been robbed of the joy that normally comes with pregnancy, who spends her days procrastinating about hospitals becoming crowded and being unable to support her birth.

Here’s to the mum-to-be who already has children and is trying to normalise a very abnormal situation while she internally struggles with not being able to leave the house and take a walk to stretch her tired limbs.

Here’s to the mum who planned to spend the last month of her pregnancy to nest at home but feels unprepared as she waits for delivery of things like baby furniture, prams, newborn nappies and a much-needed stockpile of WaterWipes.

Here’s to the expectant first time mum who is asked daily, “aren’t you worried?” and receives messages from friends sharing anxiety-inducing misinformation that she has to navigate to find the real answers.

Here’s to the mum whose husband left the hospital after the birth of their son to put their first baby down to sleep at home, only to be refused entry when he returned to hospital to be with his wife and new child due to corona regulations.

Here’s to the pregnant mum panicking about the numerous doctor’s appointments in the lead up to the birth and has to weigh up what’s more of a risk; missing the appointment that checks her own and her unborn baby’s health? Or visiting the clinic and taking the chance of catching the infectious disease?

Here’s to the mum who planned to escape the Dubai heat in the next few months with her newborn and toddler and is now faced with the challenging reality of staying inside with them both all summer long and worries about what this may do to her mental health.

Here’s to all the mums, the mums-to-be, the first timers and the more experienced, to the sisters, grandparents and friends – let’s use this uncertain time to acknowledge each other’s fears. Let’s support each other more than we thought possible when we were busy with our lives pre-corona, let’s be each other’s sounding board and truly listen to people’s problems without satisfying the urge to provide an answer. Above all, let’s simply be there.

  • WaterWipes is getting honest about parenting. Share your own experiences on Instagram @waterwipesmiddleeast with the hashtag #ThisIsParenthood


Photo: Supplied