My best friend Violet and I got pregnant within a couple months of each other. This is something we’ve both manifested for years and, when it happened, we had a pretty good idea of what our joint maternity leave would look like. Lots of foot massages, long cafe lunches, power walks around the park and lots of catchups with the gals. The universe had other ideas.
My dreamy carefree pregnancy did not consist of one single long lunch. Instead, I made a lot of sandwiches and reheated a lot of Uber Eats, which were then consumed on the couch with my dog who, by the way, was the first to know I was pregnant and has been gloriously unimpressed with me every second since.
When Violet had her baby boy, I met him over FaceTime, and it would be weeks before I’d see him in real life. Again — not what we imagined.
There have been no family lunches where everyone has rubbed my belly and commented on my ‘pregnancy glow’ (which I am 90% still sure is not a real thing). In fact, I’ve really not seen anyone but my husband since the end of June. And my obstetrician — who I’ve visited alone for every blood test, scan and pre-natal appointment — again, since June.
It’s been a crazy time to be pregnant for the first time. I’ve spent nine months deep in online forums and buying baby items online instead of taking full Sundays to stroll through Baby Kingdom (a blessing in disguise?). I’ve whipped my boobs out on FaceTime as I’ve discussed feeding techniques with a lactation consultant, and my husband and I spent two days on zoom with 20 strangers undertaking our birth class.
Now for the good part. For someone who generally does a lot of overseas and interstate travel for work, the upside of my lockdown pregnancy has been the time spent at home enjoying rest and quiet.
My husband works from home, so we’ve had a really lovely time nesting together. The baby boy inside my tummy will know his voice as well as mine, as I’ve been glued to his side the whole time. Lucky we like each other.
I’ve had someone by my side to help me in and out of the bathtub, fetch the Gaviscon from the fridge and encourage me to take a walk around the block on days when I’d prefer to just watch another episode of Selling Houses Australia.
The other upside is that I haven’t had to buy maternity clothes! Yes, I’ve grown out of 98% of my ‘normal clothes’, but not leaving the house has meant that I’ve been free to roam in an interesting mix of bathrobes, bike shorts and oversized T-shirts or sometimes none of the above. I’m pretty sure my neighbours have seen the slow effect of gravity on my boobs over the past 37 weeks as wearing a top has also become one of the things in the ‘too hard basket’.
Then there’s maternity leave. Which for me won’t involve going back to work, as I chose to wrap up my radio show Ash London Live which I’ve been hosting for the past five years.
Dramatic? Yes. Apparently, nappies are expensive over time. Oops. While many women decide to nest during this period, I decided to throw myself into a new project that would help me prepare for impending motherhood.
As someone who has focused on my career for the better part of the last 15 years, approaching ‘time off’ has brought with it some questions and fears around my identity, my goals and dreams.
How do I keep these alive and thriving while focusing on being a mama? Intent on getting some answers I’ve launched The Ash London Podcast. In season one (which I’m cheekily calling ‘New Mum, Who Dis?’) I’m speaking to the likes of Miranda Kerr, Liane Moriarty and Tiff Hall about how they managed (or didn’t manage) to handle first-time motherhood while keeping their careers going.
It’s been a hilarious, eye-opening and really encouraging experience, and if you’re faced with the same questions — or maybe you just need some life inspiration — then hop on board, baby! I never thought that I’d quit my job, launch a podcast or live through a pandemic in the months leading up to this birth — but such is life.
This is well and truly not the pregnancy I imagined. It won’t be the birth I imagined. There will be COVID tests every 72 hours until I go into labour, no visitors to the hospital and the inevitably awkward “have you been vaccinated?” conversations before friends and family meet the baby.
Our babymoon was cancelled, I didn’t get a baby shower, and most of my loved ones haven’t seen me in all my pregnant glory. I’ve had to let go of my ideas of what this time of my life would look like, but, from what I can tell, it’s been the perfect introduction to motherhood.
I can’t control a child any more than I can control lockdown laws. It’s a process of acceptance that has already started and will continue for many years to come. If my mother was able to accept my pink mohawk at 16, then I suppose I can learn the art of acceptance too.