Well hello there, long time no see! I've got so much to tell you, most of which you will probably already know if you follow my social channels and YouTube channel; but I am having a baby!! 

As I write this I am actually 37 weeks pregnant, into month 9 and in my third and final trimester; not really sure where the time has gone! 2020 has been a pretty bad year for everyone in the world; come January 1st and we were expecting our best years yet and then March arrived with a pandemic which completely rocked the boat. We have been fortunate to have this little baby to look forward to, not only that but it's meant we've had something to keep us occupied during the darkest of times. 

Don't get me wrong, it's not been the easiest of journeys; having a baby in lockdown has been very difficult in more ways than one, albeit we haven't had a previous experience to compare it to. We found out around the four week mark and around two/three weeks into the initial lockdown, it was so so weird and had to tell our families via FaceTime which was really difficult to do. As much as its incredible we have the technology these days, missing out on the overwhelming emotions and hugs from family members and friends when we revealed the news is something we won't get to cherish. Yes, we may have the opportunity in the future and there are people who have sadly lost loved ones - nothing will ever be as hard and gut wrenching as that but as first time parents to be, we have missed out on these small things which create the biggest of memories. 

The journey health wise has been relatively ok, I've been fortunate to enjoy my pregnancy and not having anything too serious to worry about. It has had a few ups and downs which I've mentioned in my trimester updates but sadly the other side to this journey has been very hard. 

As soon as lockdown hit, hospitals limited the number of people allowed into the building - quite rightly so! I'm very much for lockdown, the rules and ensuring everyones safety comes first! However, this led to a very different pregnancy journey which a lot of families and parents to be can understand. Due to no visitors in hospital, it did result in me having to go to my 12 week and 20 week scan all on my own despite the nerves mixed with excitement it also had the overwhelming sadness of Martyn not being able to experience witnessing his child on the screen. We are very fortunate that baby is ok, but I honestly feel for those families who did not get the news that they wanted and the poor mums had to experience this all alone in a drab hospital room whilst their partner or families sit in the car or a home completely unaware of what's to come and that is not ok! 

Since the first lockdown eased, hospitals have opened up to allowing partners or one family members into the 12 and 20 week scans which is so lovely to see but also extremely difficult sat in the waiting room witnessing this knowing we will never get that experience back! For various reasons, I've had to have a couple of growth scans and guess what, partners are not allowed to go to them for some reason and it just does not make sense! 

Martyn hasn't had the opportunity to attend any midwife appointments which has resulted in him missing out on hearing baby's heartbeat each time. At my second appointment, the lovely midwife allowed me to record the heartbeat once we knew everything was ok; it was the smallest but most amazing opportunity that I will never forget. 

It doesn't just stop with the scans or appointments, there are no antenatal classes where you can meet fellow parents to be and learn more about the baby, birth and what to expect post pregnancy. When it comes to the birth itself, the birthing partners are only allowed to attend when the woman is in established labour and 3-4cm dilated. Again, I full understand that less human interaction with others means there's less of an opportunity for the virus to pass through person to person but what is a few extra hours in the hospital room going to make? They have to wear a face mask during their whole hospital stay anyway. 

There are so many women who have had to go through this and I take my hat off to them as I am so scared about what is to come. I'm not thinking about the labour part specifically, I'm thinking of where the hell the labour ward/birth centre is and I've not been notified or able to visit. How am I going to get there myself as my husband isn't allowed to take me in apparently and I am so scared of having to experience the initial stage of my pregnancy without my rock! 

I seriously hope that the government take this seriously and we do start to see some changes very soon. If you're now allowed two birthing partners then I think that your main birthing partner should be allowed to be with you for the whole of pregnancy. If anyone reading this is going through the same experience, please reach out, I am here if you need to talk or just want that extra support - we could all do with it. 

Now that I've rambled on and thrown so much negativity around, I do want to highlight some of the positives that we have been able to take out of being pregnant during a pandemic. Firstly, it has allowed me to slow down; we're all so busy these days and constantly running around doing so many different things, we don't find the time to just sit and relax. Being stuck in a lockdown and not mixing with loads of people has meant that I've been able to appreciate what my body is going through and allowing it to tell me when I need to rest. Plus not having a commute to work has come in so handy, all I need to do is walk around 10 steps from one room to another and I'm 'in the office'. 

One of the biggest saviours of this pandemic is how much I've been able to save. Financially, I don't think you're ever ready to have a baby, I was slightly concerned at how we would survive on maternity pay for nine months. But not going to work, or going out at the weekend has meant I've not forked out money on loads of little bits and bobs alongside petrol resulting in me being able to take the full nine months off and being able to feel comfortable. 

I think I've rambled on enough and you have done exceptionally well to make it this far if you have! If you're pregnant too, huge congratulations and I wish you all the very best. 

Alice xxx