We are both filmmakers, and we were travelling a lot as we were in the early stages of making a television programme, when I found out I was pregnant. We had had a few miscarriages over the years so were super excited about this pregnancy.

I was very lucky in that my pregnancy was quite easy – especially as I was nervous with the travelling, for instance, I was 10 weeks pregnant when I had to take my first long-haul flight over to the States.

I actually had an inkling I was pregnant when I was away on holiday, but it would have been really early. Then about ten days later, I felt a bit nauseous when looking at food, I was late too, so I took a test. It was negative. A few days later I got what I thought was a UTI and went to the doctor.

He asked if I thought I might be pregnant but I had taken two tests by then and they were both negative – he decided to do one just in case. And I was pregnant! I nearly fell off the chair. I went out to my husband who was waiting in the car. He asked if I had anything, and I replied, yes, I definitely have something but it’s actually a baby! We both had a big cry and a big hug!

I actually felt hugely healthy during pregnancy; we were filming a food show so we ended up eating very healthily. We were also very active and I was hugely conscious of looking after myself and resting when I can. I actually felt at my best weight during pregnancy, which is probably a first!

The big scan was very stressful as we had had a few misses before, but once we saw the tiny little baba on the screen, it was a really lovely moment. We decided to keep the gender a secret – as you don’t get many surprises as an adult.

And then comes Covid…

We continued travelling until I was seven months pregnant. At that stage, I went into the maternity hospital for a gestational diabetes test – and sometime around then, I caught Covid. This was at the very start of the pandemic, in March 2022. We were pretty much the first people I knew to have caught Covid, and it was pretty scary.

We had turned from a world in which everything was okay, John was able to come in with me for check-ups etc, and all of a sudden everything was upside down. John was also in America for a week, and things were not as panicked over there, but we managed to get his flight changed and he got home just before things started really shutting down. That really was the scariest week.

We were down for about three weeks with Covid; we were really exhausted with it, but we had a lot to do to prepare for the baby. John also got long Covid that affected his leg, so he was on crutches for a while. We were also in full-on lockdown so it was difficult to get out there and buy things.

We needed to paint some rooms, for example, and I couldn’t get paint. My friend actually sourced paint through Twitter and helped to paint the room. My family really helped too, and sent buggies, a changing table, bags of clothes etc – so even though I couldn’t see people, they helped out so much.

Onto the birth

I didn’t have a birth plan but I did read a few books that my friend had given me – they basically advised me to let John know my preferences and to be vocal in the hospital. I did practise some hypnobirthing techniques and put together a playlist, and that really helped to calm me and keep me centred. So I wasn’t hugely nervous going in for the birth.

I began having contractions and they started getting very close – two minutes apart – so we headed to the hospital. John wasn’t allowed to be with me until I got to the labour ward. I had a while to go, so I had a shower which helped hugely with the pain.

Things progressed, but I was starting to get really exhausted and I was only 5/6cm dilated. Ryker’s oxygen levels had gone down too, so they decided to deliver by emergency c-section. John was allowed in for that part, which was really quick. I was told it was a boy but I couldn’t hear him crying – I was very scared at that point but the nurse them gave me the thumbs up to say that everything was okay.

I didn’t get to see him properly until that evening. Probably what was toughest, was that John could only stay with me for an hour post-birth. He was able to visit Ryker and send me videos and a picture, but then I couldn’t see him for three days. That was really tough, but thankfully we were soon reunited at home, now a family of three.

My big piece of advice is to prepare by reading as much as possible. A friend lent me a book called Expecting Better, which takes a realistic look at pregnancy and some of the misconceptions around pregnancy and birth.

My best pregnancy purchase: I used an almond shower scrub from L’Occitane with Bio-Oil for the stretch marks. It smelt beautiful and worked wonders on my skin.

Most useful baby purchase: Baskets! We got a load of small baskets that we could put upstairs and downstairs for clean clothes and soiled clothes. It kept us organised and meant that we didn’t have to troop up and down stairs every time Ryker needed changing.

Lucy was chatting with Penny Gray, a freelance editor and writer specialising in beauty, property, parenting, health and lifestyle. She has worked for TVNow, Salon Ireland, Irish Beauty, and was Editor of Maternity & Infant magazine. Most importantly, she is a proud mum of two!

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