Having a baby in the pandemic was not funny! Given how dramatic the circumstances were, I’ve wanted to write this blog post as quickly as I could. But with being a mum of 2, a pandemic and juggling a million things, I just didn’t get round to it.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a request from Aisha to share my birth story on her podcast – The Whole Mama Show. Simply having that conversation spurred me on to finish off the draft and share.
So 18 months later, here’s how I almost had my child on the concrete floor outside the hospital.
Before we dive in, there are a few things to know that’ll shape this entire story. First, I didn’t exactly time the contractions for my first birth and so I got sent back home four times as I wasn’t well dilated or in active labour. You can read the full birth story here.
Secondly, April 2020 was the height and first wave of the corona virus pandemic. Concern was at an all time high.
And here I was approaching a due date for the last week in April.
It didn’t help that the hospital in Milton Keynes where I was likely to give birth was one of the few in the country where Covid patients were being treated at the time.
For some of these reasons I considered a home birth. And while home births were largely cancelled due to the pandemic, the midwives re-assured me that these were still going on in MK.
At about my 36 week appointment, I spoke to my midwife and she greatly reassured me that the hospital was fine and safe, social distancing was in effect and PPE was sufficient. She also mentioned that a lot of second time mums were unintentionally having their babies at home because they were judging their labour using their first time experience forgetting that it often happens a lot quicker!
39 weeks rolled along and I felt generally okay. My surprise virtual baby shower had been a huge mood booster. I wasn’t really sure about a baby shoot but I’m so glad we had one in the end at 39 weeks. See some photos here.
I had d also started to pack my hospital bag using mostly this list from the first time around.
My friend Tinuke who runs MumsandTea was also scheduled to have a baby at about the same time. Earlier we had chatted and she recommended an app called Freya to help time my contractions during labour. I’d never heard of to and didn’t download it immediately especially when it was a paid app (hey don’t blame me!). But it was also just £3:50 so not like a huge expense at all.
Anyway, so here’s the situation in April 2020. We’re in full lockdown (the era of hoarding tissue paper!), nurseries are closed, my husband and I are both working from home and we have no help! Also, family also can’t join us from abroad due to travel restrictions.
My due date was the last week of April. Like the first time I didn’t want to get to 40 weeks pregnant so I was hoping baby arrived earlier.
A couple of days before the due date, I start feeling minor cramps and contractions. Sort of like period pains. They start in the early morning and are pretty constant for most of the day. It feels like things are beginning to get started.
One evening a few days after I hit the 39 week mark, I decide to make chicken curry for dinner. I don’t recall if it was a coincidence or if I intentionally set out to test the myth about curry speeding up labour.
I’m in the middle of cooking when the contractions get stronger — definitely not in the realm of period pains anymore. Tola takes over the cooking while I sit down.
So I pay for and download the Freya app to time the contractions. The time is 6:37pm. My contractions are approximately at an interval of 3.5 minute. The app is great. It’s reading out all these positive affirmations and playing some background calming music. That helps.
Based on that contraction interval, it was obviously I was in labour!
But remember that I didn’t time my contractions the first time and maybe I didn’t really understand this bit of the whole thing.
Plus, I believe the app had a message that said “we’d let you know when to go to the hospital” or something like that!
So I kept waiting for that clear notification.
I also didn’t want to go to the hospital and get sent back if I wasn’t in active labour as I definitely didn’t want to expose myself to the hospital more than necessary.
In the middle of these contractions I waddled upstairs to take a photo of my hospital bag items (because blogger life!) and to zip up the bag finally.
We had a 2.5 yr old toddler though. So what was the plan? Since we had no one to look after him, we were going to drop him off at a family friend’s home and then both Tola and I could go to the hospital. Thankfully, one birth partner was still allowed in during the birth.
Back in the moment, I was eating a bit of curry, rice and plantain while breathing through the contractions and the pain.
I’m not sure what happened but at some point I did a google search to check what is classified as active labour. In summary, it’s when the contractions get stronger, longer and more painful. They could last about 45 seconds and be as close as 3 minutes apart.
Ding dong! I had probably been in active labour since 7pm. It was now 8:13pm and by now the contractions were about every minute!
I said to Tola: “we need to head to the hospital now I feel like this baby is coming!”
In a frenzy he threw the bags in the car and put Jidenna in his car seat. Poor boy was looking a bit frazzled.
I couldn’t sit still in the car. I kept screaming “oh my gosh this baby is coming”.
I sat with my bum raised up and to the sides
The plan like I said was to drop Jidenna off at our friends. That would have been an extra 10 minutes at the least.
I couldn’t afford that. “I’m going to have this baby in the car if we do that” I screamed.
We had no choice but to drive straight to the hospital.
As soon as we parked right in front of the hospital, I stumbled out of the chair and fell onto the bare concrete floor. Then my waters broke all over the floor and all over my clothes. This was about 8:25pm.
I was screaming!
Jidenna was in the car and he couldn’t figure out what was happening. But I heard him say “Daddy help mummy, daddy help mummy”.
There was so much confusion.
I continued screaming on the floor with probably half of my clothes raised up. A passerby asked if I was okay and if I needed something to cover up.
I retorted “I’m having a baby I don’t need to cover up”
We’re at the entrance of the hospital but the labour ward is far off. So Tola tells the general receptionist what’s going on. They come out to help, brining a wheel chair with them to take me on to the labour ward. But I’m writhing on the floor and obviously can’t sit on it. They suggest it might be quicker to call an ambulance on site to get a stretcher.
Long story short, the midwives finally come through from the labour ward with a stretcher. They have a look and confirm that I’m already crowning — that they could see the baby’s head. They kindly advised I needed to try to get on the stretcher so I could get to the labour ward and not have my baby on the cold concrete floor.
In between contractions they manage to put me on the stretcher. They give me some gas and air, and tell Tola they’d take me to the labour ward.
The gas and air helps a bit. It makes me whoozy.
Jidenna is still in the car and so Tola has to go drop him off and come back to stay with me. My hospital bag was still in the car.
I’m wheeled to the delivery room by the team of about four midwives all encouraging me and all so helpful. They had gloves and masks. I wasn’t asked to wear a mask.
They gently transfer me to the bed and confirm that baby’s head is almost out. “You just need to push a couple of times”, they say.
I push, I push and my little baby boy arrives. I’m not even sure how I feel. Relief I think. Huge relief and immense gratitude of course.
My hospital bag was still in the car – just like the first time around. So again, the midwives used the hospital’s own hat and blanket and handed him over to me.
It took Tola a little less than 20 minutes to drop off Jidenna and return. By time he did, I’d had our baby.
He recalled walking into the hospital and wondered why the staff were congratulating him. He didn’t think baby could have arrived already!
But alas he had. Baby probably got a taste of that curry and thought “I’m on my way right now!”
And, that was it. After baby was wiped, I held him close for recommended skin to skin. That’s how Tola met us as he arrived. And then he took over to get baby dressed in his own clothes.
I think there was so much shock that we didn’t even really take photos. So I didn’t have that traditional photo of me in hospital bed with our baby.
One of the first things I asked for post baby was my left over food which I hadn’t finished eating! So Tola went home later that night to bring it back for me. It was definitely preferred to the hospital toast on offer.
I spent the night alone in the ward as no overnight visitors were allowed – incidentally it was the exact same room I had been with Jidenna.
After the routine tests and checks we were discharged the next day.
Thankfully not like the first time where I had to stay an extra week.
We picked Jidenna up from our friend’s and suddenly he looked so grown to me! Maybe because there was a tiny new baby.
And so that was it: the birth story to being a family of 4.
It definitely hasn’t been the easiest 18 months with the pandemic and generally moving from a family of 3-4. But I’m so thankful to God for the grace and strength through it all.
I’m also really glad I’ve finally written this down before the details get fuzzy.
Interestingly and in retrospect, I wish we could somehow have recorded the entire thing. I know it’d have been hilarious to watch – especially that scene on the hospital floor!