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Jo Birch

2020 Mum

We went into 2020 full of excitement. My due date was at the beginning of April. My last appointment in person was at 37 weeks. I knew I was going to be having a caesarean. I felt okay about that until we started to hear that some hospitals in England were refusing to let women have their partners at the birth.

My partner had been to every appointment with me and he had not wanted to miss anything. We were both really upset by the thought that he might not be allowed into the hospital for the birth.

We were told that we would just have to play it by ear until something definite was said. All of my appointments after 37 weeks were conducted over the telephone, even the pre-op before the c-section. It was really difficult and the whole experience was weird.

On the day I was due to go into hospital, I was still uncertain as to whether Chris was going to be able to come into the theatre with me. He was allowed on to the maternity ward, but he was the only man there. I was required to have a COVID-19 test but he wasn’t. The staffing on the ward was minimal and we didn’t see any other visitors.

The staff were wearing PPE. It was actually surprising how quickly we became used to everyone wearing masks, it was normal – weirdly quickly.

The Consultant had talked us through what would happen during the c-section. We were led to believe that there would be lots of people in theatre, but there wasn’t. There was an anaesthetist, an assistant, the surgeon and a trainee doctor.

Chris was there with me and it was all very calm and serene in the end. I had a few days in hospital and it was just the three of us in a bubble. I was grateful for that, but I really missed seeing Jack who was at home with my mum.

My mum had come to stay a couple of weeks before I was due, so that we were one household before I went into hospital. It meant that when I came home we didn’t have to isolate and she was able to help us. The doctors had told me that I would have to shield after the birth, so this was really the only way we could make things work.

It really hit home that things were different when my sister came to the house to see the baby. Chris lifted him up to the window so that she could see him through the glass. We all cried. I am very close to my sister and I hadn’t seen her for nearly a month.

It was really, really hard.