My pandemic baby: Georgie’s story

Georgie shares her story from pregnancy to NICU during a global pandemic.

When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child we were elated. My pregnancy was low risk, and I was a fit and healthy 30-year-old. I was fully aware of the risks during pregnancy due to my job as a paramedic, but I never could have anticipated what was to come.

Up until 16.5 weeks pregnant, I remained working as a paramedic within Norfolk. This was until Covid reared its ugly head. I, like many others, initially underestimated the impact it would have. The rest of my pregnancy was spent in lockdown, attending the few maternity appointments that hadn’t been cancelled on my own due to Covid restrictions. At 27 weeks pregnant, I started to show symptoms that I recognised as preeclampsia. After attending hospital and being discharged with medication that didn’t work, I was admitted for a second time at 29 weeks where I would stay until after the birth of my daughter.

“I knew they would give me the news I didn’t want to hear.”

My health deteriorated quickly and five days after I was admitted it was decided they would have to deliver our daughter to save both our lives. I was transferred to ICU where I would be kept in an isolation room as there had been a mix up with my Covid swab. My husband was also told he wouldn’t be able to be in the delivery room because my results hadn’t come back. After a considerable amount of effort from my consultant, my swab came back negative, thankfully.

Our daughter Freya was delivered at 30+3 weeks gestation, weighing 2lb 10oz and was taken straight to NICU whilst I was returned to ICU due to the severity of my preeclampsia. Covid meant that my family had been unable to see me since my admission and were receiving updates via my husband. Whilst in ICU I was informed that Freya had a collapsed lung and required a chest drain. I broke down and asked to see my daughter who I was yet to meet. Due to the restrictions, they said I was unable to visit. I was distraught. I ended up in such a state that they finally agreed to let me see my daughter for the first time since her birth. This would be the first and only time my husband and I would be together with our daughter until her discharge from NICU 37 days later.

Visiting restrictions meant only one parent could visit at a time. Thankfully there were no limitations on the amount of time, so my husband and I would take it in turns being with Freya from early hours until late at night.

When I was finally discharged from the hospital visiting became more difficult. As I had a c-section, I was unable to drive and there was nowhere in the hospital for us to wait because of the restrictions. My husband would drive the 35-minute journey to the hospital multiple times a day to pick me up and drop me off so we could swap over. Numerous times I would sit in the car for hours waiting for him to finish his visit with my breast pump keeping me company. Family helped as much as they could given the situation; playing taxi; or making food as shops were closed.

“I waited 37 days to see my husband hold our baby.”

One thing I will never forget is not being able to see my husband hold our daughter for the first time. The pandemic robbed us of that special moment. Our first stop over I had to do on my own. I was a first-time mum and absolutely petrified, so I sat up all night just watching Freya. Pre pandemic, my husband and I could have been with Freya together. Our family could have visited. We could have got a coffee in the café. My husband could have been with us during those nights. But instead, we were alone. We swapped at the NICU doors, walking the corridors on our own, leaving our daughter. We had nowhere to sit and gather our thoughts. We had no family there to give us a hug.

“I was on my own during the hardest time of my life.”

After 37 days we finally got to leave as a family. We could all be together, and our families were able to meet Freya for the first time in over 5 weeks.
I have shared our story on social media and have had other mums and preemie parents reach out over this past year, expressing that following Freya’s journey has given them hope. That makes me so emotional. I never intended to share so much of Freya’s NICU journey on social media, but when I started to receive messages from preemie mums it made me realise how much I could support others the same way others helped me.

Freya is now 18 months and I look back on the whole experience in disbelief. My husband and I laugh now at how when we planned to have a baby, we thought the only concern we had was where to go on holiday because of the Zika virus. How wrong we were. The pandemic may have robbed me of some very special moments, but one positive I can take away from the pandemic is the time we got to spend with Freya on our own after she was discharged, due to lockdown.

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