‘I can’t do this on my own!’ He missed hearing our baby’s heartbeat. Our due date was coming and I was a nervous wreck.’: New mom details pandemic pregnancy, ‘Cherish every moment’

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“I didn’t believe in love at first sight until August of 2014. I was working in Ibiza for the summer with intentions to travel the world with my best friend. One Sunday, I bumped into this tall, dark, and handsome man on Bora Bora beach. He asked, ‘Did you hear what happened to the guy in the west end who injected himself with curry?’ I replied in total shock and disbelief, ‘Eeee NO, is he okay?’ Total blonde moment, as the rest of the group found it hilarious. ‘No, he’s not okay, he’s in a KORMA.’ I had to find out more about this mystery man from that point on.

Courtesy of Sammy Brown

Originally from Inverness, I moved to Glasgow chasing a faster life. James, the mystery man, was from Sunderland. There was a total of 160 miles between us, which meant nothing. We just counted down the days until our next date. James would travel up after the night shift on Friday morning and arrive just before I headed out to work. I would visit him at any opportunity I had during the week, and we made it work for 2 years until he asked me to move in.

In 2018, after 2 years of our long-distance relationship followed by years living in Sunderland with James’s parents, we finally bought our first home down by the river. James’s friends had welcomed me into their world, and within a few months, it was as if I’d knew them my whole life. Sunderland was the place I would now call home.

James and I were now both settled with good jobs and still the same ambitions to travel, so we did. From Paris to New York, Dubai to Singapore, we covered lots of our favorite destinations together, with our favorite being Santorini. The bucket list had finally filled up with ticks, and we decided it was time for the next chapter of the story.

Courtesy of Sammy Brown

In September 2019, James and I returned from a 2-week trip to Mexico with friends and decided it was time to start our own little family. We had done everything we wanted and more during the past few years. Our house was starting to feel like a home and we wanted to share it with a little one.

‘James, it’s POSITIVE!’ I shouted as I came down the stairs. I could feel the tears streaming down my face as he met me halfway. We sat on the stairs for a good half hour hugging each other, staring at two blue lines. We were pregnant.

Courtesy of Sammy Brown

I really struggled with the first few months of my pregnancy. Morning sickness lasted till night time, and exhaustion hit me hard, so James planned a weekend away to a spa in the Lake District. It was amazing, and just what I needed. However, the day before we were leaving, James woke me up. ‘Get your coat and hiking boots on, we’re going for a walk.’ It was the last thing I wanted to do, but to make him happy, I did it anyway.

After 2 hours of laughing due to the fact that James had no idea where he was going, and after he fell over numerous times, he said, ‘One more hill, I promise.’ We parked up at the bottom of Orrest Head where a sign read, ’20 minutes to the top.’ I looked at him with a straight pregnant face and said, ‘Really?’

We eventually arrived at the top of the hill, after I made a number of threats, telling him I was turning around because I was tired, but he insisted on getting to the top for a ‘picture.’ I sat down on a bench I was over the moon to see and pondered over what was quite an amazing view of Lake Windermere. ‘Sammy, come over here please, look at this,’ James shouted. I dragged myself from the bench. As I met him over the brow of the hill, I remember seeing that boy on the beach again, tanned, tall and full of jokes, down on one knee, reaching inside his pocket for a small box.

I blinked. ‘Sorry for dragging you to the top of a mountain pregnant, but will you marry me?’ I was in complete shock, not expecting to walk back down the hill with a fiancée. Of course, I said YES, I couldn’t get the word out quick enough. It was official, and we were engaged. I was engaged to the love of my life. All my dreams are finally coming true.

Courtesy of Sammy Brown

I had all the symptoms, the positive pregnancy test and I still didn’t fully believe I was pregnant—it wasn’t registering with me. We booked an early 7-week scan, just before Christmas, and there he was. His little heartbeat flickering away. The technician said it was a very strong heartbeat. My heart was so full! I have no words to explain the rush of emotions through my body.

I am so blessed because I had the perfect pregnancy from then until the 12-week mark, my bump was finally starting to pop and the news was out! I was on cloud nine. I had so many plans: antenatal classes, going pram shopping, booking in a personal shopper at Mama’s and Papas… and then the world was tipped upside down.

‘BREAKING NEWS: COVID19’ was flooding around the world and pregnant women were in the high-risk category. I was a nervous wreck. I wanted to run and hide in my home and protect my baby from this horrible virus. For 3 months, I stayed home, hiding away from the world. My baby bump was growing. I was so lucky to be safe at home but so sad I was missing out on sharing my pregnancy journey with my friends and family.

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We had never planned to find out the sex of our baby, we wanted it to be a surprise. However, due to the pandemic, we decided we wanted some good news. We went to our 20-week scan, got the sex of our child in a white envelope, and went to the shop for our gender reveal balloon. I was shaking with excitement all the way home. We couldn’t have a gender reveal party with our closest so we set up the camera and filmed the reveal to post on our social media pages. POP, ‘IT’S A BOY!’

Courtesy of Sammy Brown

We were very lucky James had been involved in the two previous scans before the pandemic hit. However, he did miss out on all my appointment with my midwife. James missed the appointment where we first heard our baby’s heartbeat. Our due date was coming closer and I was a nervous wreck James wouldn’t even be there for our baby’s arrival. I was constantly checking the social media pages of the hospital I planned to give birth in for updates. I was stressing to my friends and family. I repeatedly said, ‘I cannot do this on my own.’

On August 4 at 9 p.m., as I lay in bed, I said, ‘James, I think my water broke. What do we do, what do we do, I need you with me, please don’t leave me on my own.’ We drove straight to the hospital and James was told to wait in the car while I went in to get checked. I was walking circles around the room, waiting for a nurse to come to check on me. She finally came in and said, ‘Your waters have not broken, please go home and let us know how you get on.’ I replied, ‘They have definitely broken.’ The midwife left the room to do paperwork and my waters were leaking all over the bed. She came back to the room and said, ‘Oh, yes, they have broken. Please go home and come back tomorrow at 5 p.m. if nothing has happened before then.’

I had contractions that night and I couldn’t sleep. In the morning they stopped, I went back on my maternity ball to bounce away. By this point, I was 2 days overdue. ‘You are coming today,’ I kept telling my bump. I lay down to try to get some rest and immediately said, ‘ouch.’ The contractions started again. At 5 p.m., we went back to the hospital to be told I was only a centimeter dilated. James was waiting in the car and I had to tell him to be on hand for a phone call and I was being induced at midnight.

I was in agony, on my own bent over in pain, crying my eyes out on the phone to my mother telling her, ‘I cannot do this.’ I kept counting down—four more hours until James is here, 3 more hours, 2 more hours. It got to midnight and I was told the delivery suite was full and they would be in to get me as soon as possible. By this point, my waters had been broken for over 24 hours and I was starting to feel traumatized over the full experience. At 4 a.m., the midwife came to get me. I quickly called James and he rushed over in the car. He was with me, and I was ready to be induced.

Courtesy of Sammy Brown

‘I will have this baby out by 7:30 a.m.,’ the midwife said. In my head I asked myself, ‘How is this possible when labor has taken so long already?’ 7:30 a.m. came and I was two centimeters dilated. ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this!’ I shouted to my midwife. ‘Please give me the epidural.’ I remember looking at the risk form and seeing it would take 20 minutes to set up and another 20 minutes to start working. ‘How can I do this for another 40 minutes?’

Then, finally… RELIEF! A rush of cold went through my body and the pain was fading away. I needed some sleep. The epidural needed topping up every 10 minutes by pressing a little button, so I said, ‘James, I need some sleep, please keep topping up my epidural whilst I get some rest.’ I woke up later because of the most painful tightening session on my left-hand side. James had been sitting watching golf with my bag of minstrels and forgot the click the button. The pain was back and I kept clicking and clicking, waiting to feel the rush of cold air again. It felt like a lifetime!

The heat from outside the window was beaming in the labor suite. One doctor and five trainee doctors came in. The doctor said, ‘Sammy, you and your baby’s temperature is high and we need to get your baby out.’ They checked and I was only four centimeters dilated. I thought, ‘How are they going to get him out?’

‘We are going to need to perform a cesarean section, is that okay?’ I was speechless, I just nodded. I was so drained and my emotions were all over the place. ‘It will be okay,’ James said. He was rushed away to get his scrubs on while they prepared me for emergency surgery. Within 20 minutes from the start of that conversation, my baby was in my arms looking straight into my eyes. He was finally here!

Courtesy of Sammy Brown

All the pain had gone. 9 months of pregnancy had just flashed before my eyes. This baby is really mine. ‘Can we please have James as a middle name?’ James asked. ‘Yes!’ I cried. Freddie James Paul Baxter. Paul was my father’s name. He was sadly killed by a drunk driver when I was 2 weeks old.

Due to the c-section, I was kept in hospital for a total of 3 days. We begged the midwife to let James stay the first night with Freddie. They agreed, but he had to leave by 6:30 a.m. Over the next few days, I created the most amazing bond with my new baby boy. The thought of being in the hospital on my own terrified me. However, when the time came, I actually enjoyed the most precious time with just me and Freddie. The only downfall was daddy only had 1 hour with his son each day until we got home.

Courtesy of Sammy Brown

I was pacing the tiny room all day. I kept hearing new mothers leaving with their new babies and wondering when our time would come. James kept texting me, asking, ‘Any news, Sammy?’ Finally, I replied, ‘IT’S HOME TIME!’ I said to Freddie, ‘Baby, let’s get you home! Daddy has to meet us at the main door as he’s not allowed inside.’ I couldn’t wait to see him and I couldn’t wait to start our new life together.

Although I feel I have missed out on so much as a new mother—most of my family in Scotland haven’t met Freddie, our baby classes kept getting canceled, we can’t meet up with our friends and family—I feel so blessed. I have the funniest, most loving little human in my bubble until this nightmare is over.

Courtesy of Sammy Brown

Looking back, my advice to other mothers giving birth during the pandemic would be: enjoy your time bonding with your new baby as a family; days in can be just as good as days out. Protect your baby and cherish every moment together. If Dad is furloughed, then use this as an advantage, get him involved with the night feeds, the early mornings, the walks down the seafront and all the day time activities babies and mothers usually do when Dad is working.

The hardest part is the pregnancy, and being without your partner at scans and appointments can be difficult. But don’t let this get you down too much, as the rewards outweigh this completely. As long as you and your baby are healthy, all of this can be dealt with. Stay positive, stay safe, and love your baby.”

Newborn Story Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sammy Brown. You can follow their journey on  Instagram. Submit your own story hereand be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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