Our baby was born on the 30th of March – during this worldwide pandemic and one week into the New Zealand lockdown. Leading up to her birth, things around us were changing weekly, if not daily and lead to some pretty big blows.
Visitors to birthcare cancelled; dads no longer able to visit the hospital should the birth result in a c-section; my obstetrician’s secretaries quit – out of fear of catching the virus – and her usually strong demeanor shaken at my 38 week appointment, the midwife scheduled to deliver my baby no longer a certainty, disappointment at having to cancel my Mom’s ticket from South Africa and knowing my best friend would not be visiting from Australia to support us post-birth.
The world shaken not only for us, but for everyone around us too.
In the weeks leading up to the birth I was brought to my knees. Literally and figuratively. There are not often times in life when everything is out of one’s control – but on this occasion no amount of planning could have prepared me for the wave I was riding. I just had to trust and believe for the best outcome.
One week before the birth I had a phone session with Vanessa, the midwife I had never met but who had decided to continue working during lockdown. We went through my birth-plan and she suggested she’d skip the ‘normal’ protocol and rather come to my house the night I went into labour. That way limiting my time unnecessarily at the hospital. She was on-board with my plan for a natural delivery and my mind was put at ease.
The labour and delivery of Grace was pretty seamless – 12 hours from start to finish. I stayed at home until I got to 6cm’s and Vanessa came to our home at 2am to check on things. We made the decision to finish the delivery at hospital, despite her offer for me to birth at home should I wish to do so. She was born by 6:50am and we were uninterrupted until we left the hospital at 9am (many dads only given 20 minutes after the birth before being asked to leave the hospital).
We arrived at birthcare and were assigned to a South African midwife who settled us into our shared room where Daniel would not be able to spend the nights with us – a tiny space indeed. We had declined the private room before the time as it was going to cost us $450/night and on top of having paid for an obstetrician, we decided we would settle for what we got. Within an hour of arriving, our midwife came in and offered us a private room at $60/night which meant Daniel would get his own bed and be allowed to stay. This being done to enforce social distancing and keep families apart where possible. We jumped at the offer and re-settled ourselves into a large, sun-filled room down the hall – ever so grateful to our midwife who snatched up the opportunity for us. Daniel had not packed any clothes and when he raised it with her, he was told to head home and get packed for his 3-day stay. He arrived back freshly showered and loaded like a pack horse with everything bar the kitchen sink!
We found out the next day that dads were no longer allowed to go home and that whatever they arrived with, would be what they would stay with for the remainder of their time there.
The 3 days in birthcare were peaceful and despite most of the midwives keeping their distance from us, we were blissfully unaware of the world around us. By day 3 though I was struggling a bit with Grace’s latch and starting to feel rather sleep deprived. That evening another cheerful South African midwife came along, pulled up a chair and plonked herself down next to my bed. She rambled on to us in Afrikaans and just lightened up the entire room. She helped me with Grace’s latch and even demonstrated feeding positions by spreading herself out on the end of my bed. She went on to reassure me of what I was doing and completely lifted my spirits, just in time to take our little one home.
Having not known if Grace would be a boy or girl, we had not done any shopping and had decided that that could wait until after the birth. The shopping luxury went out the window with lockdown and I was told by a friend that a lot of newborn, winter items seen as an ‘essential service’ were mostly sold out online. I contacted a colleague whose wife had offered to lend us some baby clothes, should we need them, earlier last year. We were pleasantly surprised that their ‘Emily Grace’ was born in winter and they happily dropped off a whole lot of stuff including warm clothing – Grace’s cupboards filled with their first touch of pink.
Friends from all over have provided meals – enough to probably get us through the entire lockdown. Daniel has had to work from home and we have treasured this extra precious time of him being around to soak up our baby’s earliest days. Grace has been a peaceful baby and we fall more in love with her every day.
To celebrate Easter I thought it fitting to share some good news… We chose to put our trust in Jesus during this time and remain optimistic despite what was going on around us.. Things did not magically go our way but His presence has been tangible and we have been bowled over by His provision and the support provided to us by so many during these past weeks. He takes care of the necessary details for His children, if we choose to lean on Him and allow Him to.
My God has not only risen, He is alive!