THOUGHTS & FEELINGS ON PREGNANCY IN LOCKDOWN
And Why I Am So Grateful For The Cocoon It Created For Me
I had an appointment with my acupuncturist yesterday, someone i’ve been seeing not only throughout pregnancy but for 2 or more years beforehand too.
It started out of desperation when my colitis, skin and migraines had me at breaking point after years of debilitation and no resolve, and has continued since, because of the hugely positive impact it made on my life. Chronic weekly migraines no more, and my colitis (aside from an early pregnancy flare) getting entirely under control. I wouldn’t say Acupuncture was the silver bullet, but it was the trigger for holistic lifestyle change, significant leaps forward in self care all of course alongside the hugely positive benefits of Chinese medicine.
Anyway, getting to the point, i’m in my third trimester and i’ve been seeing my acupuncturist throughout my pregnancy, as I was before, and she commented on just how well I was doing and how truly positive the pandemic and lock down has been for me and my pregnancy journey. How pregnancy in lockdown has been in reality, a hugely beneficial thing for me. And I can’t help but whole heartedly agree.
Her comment was largely based on the fact my 100 mph lifestyle has been entirely stopped, and i’ve been able to finally get on top of lots of the the things I’ve been working towards for years – balance, more calm, less stress (?) – but that with life and work as it was, I just couldn’t quite entirely get a handle on. Yoga, meditation, acupuncture and everything helped so much, but there’s nothing like being house bound to actually make you stop. No stressful commute, no rushing around, no travel, no long nights in the office*, no social pressures, no packing too much in, no running late and over committing. All of that went, and instead i’ve spent over a year in the comfort of my own home with the luxury, as I see it, to have a little bit of calm, and a little better juggling.
*Don’t get me wrong I’ve still been working this whole time, and work itself has been BUSY, but I’ve found being at home in my own space and working far more on my own terms, with the comfort of my own food and refreshments, not to mention not commuting an utter god send.
So whilst I know that this last year or so, for many has been entirely damaging and difficult, for me, it provided the perfect cocoon for self protection, self care and a haven to fall pregnant and grow a baby in.
I have many friends who’ve birthed and raised a baby in lockdown, and what I will say is, I absolutely sympathise because it has been the most challenging and unthinkable experience for them, being shut off from loved ones at key moments and doing things alone. I think that experience is entirely different to pregnancy in lockdown, so please know that when I share my thoughts below, it’s entirely based on my experience of being pregnant during a pandemic, and not an overarching view on experiencing birth, maternity leave and raising your baby in one – because like I said that’s different, something that has created much upset for those I love, and something I don’t have experience in (and hopefully won’t have to if the roadmap to recovery pans out as the Government has outlined – something I am hugely grateful for).
For me working from home during the pandemic, and to be honest ‘staying home’ more generally helped me slow down. It provided me with a forced pause from life’s momentum, which whilst that of course has it’s down sides (I miss my family, friends and travel) it has been a gift in terms of creating the right environment and mental / physical health to not just fall pregnant in the first place but also to experience pregnancy itself.
Some of the things i’m most grateful for, and I think have had such a positive impact on my journey so far, are such small, simple and seemingly inconsequential things but yet they’ve all accumulated into something really positive …
Pregnancy in lockdown, my thoughts & feelings …
Not commuting in the morning. I used to wake up stressed every morning, rushing about trying not to be late. I’d leap out of bed, get ready, run out the door, juggle emails and crowds, often have challenges with my colitis which made the journey to work really uncomfortable and challenging for me (i’d have to make sure I was near the toilet). I’d get to work exhausted and wired, and grab a coffee as I ran into meetings.
Now my mornings start slowly, later than normal as I don’t have to account for an hours commute, with a cup of tea in bed. I get ready in plenty of time and meander from bedroom to kitchen, where I make some breakfast whilst doing my morning emails.
My days, whilst still long from time to time (and on the negative, lacking any movement or fresh air) are spent from the comfort of my home, something I think has endlessly helped my sense of calm and peace. I know many have struggled working from home, but for me having access to my own space, my own food and drink whenever I want it, and my own ‘ideal environment’ is something that I can’t deny the positive impact of. Of course I do miss friends and colleagues, and on occasion the odd social affair, but I’ve found a much greater sense of calm and control being protected by my own 4 walls. And a far greater sense of autonomy for my time. Like I said I have worked very long and hard days multiple times since we started working from home, but there’s something about being in your own home, having dinner made for you at a normal time and being a stones throw from bed when it’s all done, that makes an 11pm finish far less stressful than being in the office without any comfort, food and a long commute ahead.
Now, with a growing bump and increasingly sore back, I work from my sofa. What an absolute dream. I often have a hot water bottle and stacks of cushions to help ease discomfort. Something I wouldn’t have had the luxury of if we were in normal life. And it’s not just that comfort, not having to get dressed for work, wear shoes and ‘proper’ clothing, has been a god send with a growing bump and sore limbs. Most the time I work in my yoga leggings, slipper socks and something more work appropriate on top. I cant under estimate the relief, comfort and gratitude I have for that. The thought of wearing heels sends a shiver down my spine …
Having more autonomy (or feeling as though I do perhaps more so) over how I work and my day, is also something thats helped me balance pregnancy journey and those initial symptoms. Like I said, long days and hard work hasn’t passed, it’s increased often, but being able to steal a nap after work on the sofa, manage my diary more easily around how i’m feeling and flex my time more acceptably, turn my video off on days where I feel ill or look rough, and simply remove all travel has been hugely positive. Tiredness specifically is a common challenge with Colitis, let alone pregnancy, and so being able to lie in, go to bed at 9pm and still have had an evening, steal a nap when things allow, and just take things slower has been life changing.
Whilst I love travel, weekends away, going home, seeing friends, socialising, it’s fair to say not being able to do any of that in lockdown and during my pregnancy has been a relief. I’ve been forced to stop, no sense of guilt, no FOMO, no missing out on things, no pressure to attend things or travel. The sense of relief that has bought me has been infinite. Whilst I have really missed my family and seeing friends, and I certainly struggled in the early weeks not being able to see people easily, the benefit of slowing down, and critically slowing down without missing out or feeling pressure or guilt, can’t be denied.
And finally, i’ve found this last year, and my pregnancy in lockdown actually quite useful in terms of prioritising and making time for my health practices like acupuncture and more recently weekly chiropractor appointments. I would never have managed to do something like that weekly, as the time to include it in a standard working day wouldn’t have allowed, but now I am home I can pop down the road and be done in 30 minutes. It’s such an easy thing to accommodate now, and a big part of my week each week I look forward to.
The downside, as I mentioned, is that I certainly haven’t been moving, exercising or getting the fresh air I should have been – I’ve found making time for pauses in the working day incredibly hard, and that means I often don’t leave the house or get any movement in for weeks at a time. It’s something I often feel bad about and worry about – but equally I think for me pregnancy has demanded rest and slowness, and so I am trying not to beat myself up that i’m not one of the toned yummy mummy’s doing her pregnancy workouts everyday. Yes there’s a balance, and I think I do need to walk a little more in these final 10 weeks or so, something that’ll become easier when I go on maternity leave too, but I don’t think my pregnancy journey was ever going to be that of a fitness fanatic anyway. My body was tired, and it’s needed rest to recover and importantly needs that rest to grow this little baby now too.
That leads me to the final piece, being in lockdown, being home, living slowly and being more calm means i’ve listened to my body innately throughout this whole period, and that is something I would have struggled with before. Too much on my mind, too much on my to do list, too many places to be, too many pressures, too little time to do it all would have clouded my ability to focus and truly listen to what I need and what my body requires. Being in lockdown and being home has afforded me the mental and physical space to slow down and tune in, which in pregnancy is just so important.
It goes without saying this is my experience of pregnancy in lockdown (not birth, or child rearing, or maternity leave – I really think that is entirely different and not something i’d wish for anyone), and as it happens I am fortunate enough to have the ‘hope’ of normality by the time little one is here. Something I know I am so incredibly fortunate to have, if anything (all things going well) I will have had the best of both worlds. A protected sanctuary, space and time to experience pregnancy without juggling the stresses of my old life, yet the beauty of normality (I hope) for my birth, maternity leave and the babies first year.
The luck and fortune isn’t lost on me, I am entirely grateful, and I can’t help but feel everything came together for me, to make this experience and my mental / physical state exactly as I needed it to be, to grow this baby healthy and ensure I could look after myself too.