Lockdown baby

“I’ll be honest with you Tara, I only remembered about this about five minutes ago and I haven’t put any makeup on,” Jaz laughs.

I laugh, telling her she looks fab, and that the video won’t go anywhere, “that’s fine then, all good.”

Jaz, the baby of our group from our time spent living in a national park in Zambia back in 2013, had a baby of her own four weeks ago on 24th April, a month into the UK lockdown.

The last month of her pregnancy, in lockdown, wasn’t too bad. “I didn’t really want to do much anyway, I was very large and uncomfortable. I was working from home, and I just started my maternity leave a little earlier, which was fine. I was happy to just chill at home.”

“It was a bit strange at the hospital when I went to give birth. Sam [her partner] had to leave me there, as he was only allowed in during ‘active’ labour. We were lucky that it happened quite quickly, otherwise I’d have been there on my own for a while.”

“After Lottie was born, we had to stay in for monitoring and Sam wasn’t allowed to stay, so I was just there, alone with her, which was a bit strange.”

Jaz seems very matter-of-fact about this, while I inwardly think about how lonely and upsetting that might’ve been.

“All the medical staff were in masks, and I constantly had to ask them to repeat themselves, because you can’t hear them through their mask when they’re talking to you,” she laughs as she covers her face, “it was strange, but obviously I haven’t done it before so at the time, I didn’t really think much of it,” she said, still laughing.

“I didn’t get any of the classes, because they stopped everything in the run up to lockdown. You know the ‘how to prepare to give birth’ and ‘prepare for a newborn’ and all that. I thought that would help me and then they all got cancelled and I was like ‘oh, what do I do now?’ and thought I’d better do some research,” she laughs.

I ask her how giving birth was. “Oh, horrible,” she throws her head back with laughter, “it was horrible. It was awful. In fairness, I feel bad complaining because I had quite a quick labour, I think I had quite an easy one compared to a lot of people, but yeah, still, horrible. It’s still fresh, people say ‘oh yeah, you forget about it after’, well, I’m a month after and I haven’t forgotten about it yet. It’ll take a while to forget that pain.”

I ask her how she’s enjoying new mum life. “It’s good, I very much enjoy her and it’s strange, having this little being that I’m very protective of and have to look after,” she laughs, “and we made her.”

It’s lovely to see the joy in her face when she says this.

“I’m not a very maternal person at all, which I think was worrying me a little bit, but now I have this little thing that I do care about. She’s so little, and so very small and reliant and it’s nice; I’m enjoying it. But it is tiring and there are moments when I struggle, definitely.”

I ask her how different she thinks it is for her because she’s still in lockdown.

“Massively. If we weren’t in lockdown, I’d have my Mum coming round and friends coming to visit. Babies need cuddling, and visitors can do the cuddling for you while you can get stuff done around the house. I don’t have that at the minute,” she laughs again, “so I’ve got to do all the cuddling and try and get some stuff done and try to keep myself sane.”

She’s still laughing, and I’m impressed by how she seems to be taking everything in her stride.

“It would have been nice to get out the house with her. I mean, obviously we can go for a walk, but to be able to go to see people at their houses. I’ve got friends who recently gave birth too, and it would’ve been nice to see them and introduce the babies,” she pauses, “it means figuring it out on my own without anyone coming round to help, which can be difficult. I don’t care about going out for meals or to the pub, I just miss friends and family.”

One good thing about lockdown at least, Jaz says, was that Sam ended up at home for three weeks after Lottie was born, rather than the standard two for paternity leave.

The UK changed it’s lockdown restrictions in the last week which means that people can now meet with one other person, physically-distanced, for a walk or meeting, and I asked Jaz whether this is helping.

“Yeah so Mum had already had a window viewing, staying the other side of the door,” we both laugh at the phrase, “and I’ve been on a few short, local-socially distanced-walks with her and a couple of friends, separately.”

My heart aches for her Mum not being able to give her newborn granddaughter a cuddle, because it doesn’t last long; I remember my niece as a tiny baby, now five, and my heart aches harder.

“It’s hard, but it’s what we’ve all got to do to get through it and keep us safe.”

I ask her how she thinks it might have been different if she hadn’t had a baby. “I think I’d be lonely; working from home, not able to see anyone and Sam back at work. Lottie keeps me busy,” she smiles, “the baby overrides the lockdown.”

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