Three lockdowns in the space of a year have hit people really hard; emotionally, mentally, socially, and financially. For new mothers, giving birth during a pandemic has posed a whole range of other problems which they have had to navigate as well as the usual ones that come with bringing a new life into the world.
Here, Prominent’s MD Helen Rudd reflects on how her first six months of motherhood have re-energised her love for her work and why she considers herself one of the lucky ones.
August 7th 2020 was recorded as the hottest day of the year. It was also the day I spent 23 hours in labour, finally giving birth to my first child, a baby girl named Kennedi, as the clock ticked towards midnight.
For the first few days, myself and my husband Luke were in a newborn bubble. Kennedi’s Felixstowe-based grandparents came to visit, her Durham-based ones followed a few days later and the week after that her cousins, aunt and uncle also made the five-hour trek from the north.
We went to the pub, out for lunch, for summer walks around the town; to the arcades, to the shops and to visit friends. Luke worked hard on our extension and we felt incredibly lucky and happy.
The first lockdown was a distant memory – infection and death rates had dropped so low we thought we could all start to get on with our lives again. We got through it and had the best present we could ever ask for at the end of it!
We re-opened the office and even purchased some picnic tables for the team to eat their lunch in the garden. I signed Kennedi up for swimming classes, a singing group and yoga and we met numerous friends who had also given birth weeks either side of Kennedi. Everything was going well, and I was enjoying maternity leave.
And then, as we headed away from good weather and into the depths of autumn and winter, that false sense of security – the wish that the worst of Covid was over – was turned upside down.
Back into lockdown
As December hit and I entered my fifth month of maternity leave, we were all reminded that the pandemic hadn’t gone away, and was, in fact, worse than before, spreading like wildfire.
As well as feeling frightened by what was going on in the world, I was also juggling my new reality as a very isolated new mother.
Swimming, yoga and singing had been cancelled. Visits to friends were not allowed. I was left to entertain, stimulate and develop a five month old who was rolling, teething, and about to start weaning. It was hard. And, if I’m honest, it was boring.
I longed for work. I longed for the ‘old’ me.
As much as I love spending every minute with Kennedi, it wasn’t fair on her to only have 50% of my attention when the other 50% was wondering what was going on at work. She wasn’t getting the best out of me.
So, with the full support of Luke, my family and the SMT at Prominent, I made the call to finish my maternity leave at the end of December and come back to work from January 1st.
Back to work
We found a place for Kennedi at our local nursery and spoke to her Felixstowe-based grandparents about creating a childcare support bubble – which they were thrilled to do of course!
And on Wednesday 6th January I did my first full day back at work. It was the right thing for me and my family and so far, I feel like it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as a business owner and a mother.
Lockdown is hard but I feel like I am one of the lucky ones. Getting back to work has given me a change of scenery, something different away from the monotony of lockdown, a chance to go back to the old me, pre-coronavirus.
Kennedi has settled into nursery brilliantly and I love getting snaps of her throughout the day, playing with toys, reading books and sleeping of course! She adores her granny and grandad and they adore her back – she goes to them twice a week and she gets showered with love while I get my head fully into work.
And best of all, work is exactly as it was when I left it. I’m incredibly proud of what we have built at Prominent and our 7th birthday (11th February) is the perfect opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved in seven years, as well as in the last year which has no doubt been the toughest.