Struggling in Lockdown

It’s a hard time for anyone at the moment. As a new first time parent, life comes with a range of challenges which I feel are exacerbated by the isolation and loneliness of lockdown. Although we’re allowed a support bubble as our baby is under one, we’re still finding this experience arduous. 

I’ve been spending a great deal of time on social media, potentially more than ever before due to the current climate. I find myself coming across parenting posts and accounts that portray a ‘perfect’ life with ‘perfect’ babies who never cry, sleep through the night and don’t have reflux. I know deep down this is often not the case. People selectively post elements of their lives, filtering out the bad parts. I’m not criticising this because hell, I do it too. I’m just pointing out that I frequently find it hard to relate to these people online. I often find an innocent flick through Instagram ends in me feeling very inadequate. 

The last few weeks, my little 5 month old has been teething. Its been a challenge to say the least (a post I will write about separately). I’ve felt incredibly isolated and alone. Days are long, and crying feels endless despite trying everything. I feel that if we weren’t in lockdown, there would be ample support for us and other parents alike. Baby groups, drop-in sessions, post natal classes, baby museum trips, coffee shop sit-ins, visits with friends, the list goes on. 

One day last week, baby woke up hourly in the night and decided to start her day at 4am. She then had a bad bout of teething and cried for hours during day. As a result of this, I developed left sided sharp chest pain. After five hours, I thought I ought to get checked out and rushed myself to the local accident and emergency. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have left it this long. 

ECGs (heart trace), bloods, vitals, x-rays, and questions. I found myself crying to the medic who examined me in hospital. I was overwhelmed, and now entering a deep pit of anxiousness. I feared the worst; heart attack? Tumour?

Neither. My chest pain was stress induced. The kind, empathetic doctor reassured me that this was a tough time. Reiterating that our circumstances were particularly difficult as having a baby in lockdown is really challenging. 

I was reassured my chest pain was not life threatening. However, I made my way back home feeling deflated. I was overwhelmed, feeling lonely and now stressed. Striving to provide the best life for my child, I’d forgotten about myself. 

Before being discharged from hospital, the doctor told me to utilise the support that WAS there. If you are a new parent, utilise your support bubbles. Talk about it (something I wasn’t doing enough of). Seek out local groups – my area has a local covid safe walking mums club which I have found really helpful. And don’t rely on social media to provide accurate depictions of life. 

I can’t stop dreaming about the maternity leave I thought I was going to have. But I can limit the time I spend dwelling on it. 

I hope that by reading this, other parents feel they aren’t alone. We are struggling, but we are plodding on. We are here. If my rather extreme results of acute stress has taught me anything, it’s that you are not alone, even if you think you are. 

I truly hope you are ok. Sending love and solidarity! 

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