Slowing down our lives sped up our baby dreams
Slowing down our lives sped up our baby dreams: They spent years failing to conceive. Then lockdown hit and look what happened! Here, four blissfully happy new mothers share their thought-provoking stories
- 173,000 women booked antenatal appointments in the final quarter of 2020
- UK-based mothers reveal why they credit the pandemic for their little miracle
- Jen Curnow, from Cornwall, started trying for a baby on honeymoon in 2018
- The 35-year-old says spontaneous intimacy and downtime boosted fertility
Overworked, overtired and undersexed, it is no wonder many couples felt hard-pressed to start a family while dashing from pillar to post in their hectic lives before the pandemic.
With hardly any down time, thanks to busy social lives, too, the chance for quality time to conceive was scarce.
But last March, all of that changed. When Covid-19 forced the population into lockdown, couples were suddenly confronted with a slower, less stressful pace of life and, consequently, had more time for each other.
Experts predicted an explosive baby boom fuelled by bored couples making full use of the ‘Stay at Home’ rules and, despite doom-mongers’ claims that pandemic stress had lead to a ‘sex drought’ among frazzled partners, early forecasts are now coming to fruition.
Four women who live in the UK, reveal why they credit the pandemic for their newborn. Pictured: Jen Curnow, 35 and husband Josh, 31, with their son Romi
Last month, NHS data revealed more than 173,000 women booked antenatal appointments in the final quarter of 2020 — the highest in five years.
And for some of those women, pregnancy has been a joyful surprise, the culmination of years spent trying for a child.
Could it be that lockdown proved to be the unlikely boost to their fertility they had longed for?
Here, FEMAIL speaks to four new mums who credit the unprecedented events of 2020 with the arrival of their own little miracles . . .
MY HUSBAND WAS BURNT OUT BEFORE LOCKDOWN
Jen Curnow, 35, lives in Indian Queens, Cornwall, with husband Josh, 31, a full-time musician. She has a ten-year-old son, Cohen, from a previous relationship and gave birth to baby Romi in February. She says:
Considering how long it took us to conceive our baby son, Romi, his birth was remarkably quick. I went into labour one morning in late February and it accelerated so fast that there was no time to get to hospital. One push and our gorgeous boy was here.
We’d started trying for a baby on honeymoon in the Caribbean in April 2018, and when we still hadn’t conceived 11 months later, fertility tests revealed there shouldn’t be any reason why we couldn’t.
Because I already had a son we weren’t eligible for fertility treatment on the NHS, so we tracked my cycle and had sex on my most fertile days each month.
Yet we still didn’t get the positive pregnancy test we longed for until two days before Father’s Day last June, by which time our daily lives had altered significantly as a result of lockdown and we’d stopped obsessing about my cycle.
The early detection test said I was three weeks pregnant, which we could trace back to the late May bank holiday weekend when we’d had a loving and fun evening together — a far cry from the timetabled, regimented love-making of pre-lockdown.
Josh and I were overjoyed as we stood hugging in the bathroom, unable to believe our eyes.
Jen said pre-pandemic Josh’s anxiety was through the roof and he was burnt out. Pictured: Jen and Josh with baby Romi
The more we thought about it, it dawned on us that lockdown was a major factor in me finally getting pregnant. It forced a huge amount of stress out of our lives.
I don’t say that lightly, as the pandemic has been agonising for millions of people who’ve lost loved ones, jobs and businesses, or fallen ill.
Pre-pandemic, Josh had been fortunate to work flat out for four years songwriting and travelling around the world performing as a solo artist — he made it to the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2016. But with barely any downtime his anxiety was through the roof and he was burnt out.
When Boris put the country into lockdown last March, he’d just returned from a tour in California and we were awaiting our first round of intrauterine insemination (IUI) fertility treat-ment — where sperm are placed dir-ectly into the womb — but then all non-essential medical appointments were cancelled. We agreed that while everything in the world was so uncertain, perhaps it wasn’t the best time to put more pressure on ourselves by actively continuing to try for a baby.
Although we didn’t start using contraception — and hoped that we may yet conceive — we did ditch the ovulation sticks and relaxed into this unexpected downtime.
With Josh’s summer performances in France and Italy, and at Glastonbury and the Silverstone Grand Prix, as well as numerous weddings and festivals, cancelled, his anxiety disappeared.
Meanwhile, I was so worried about Covid, disinfecting post and shopping before I’d allow it into the house, that I wasn’t preoccupied with conceiving.
Intimacy became more spontaneous and natural and I’m sure that is the reason, just when we least expected it, I fell pregnant.
Lockdown meant Josh was also here to look after me when I was floored by morning sickness and swollen ankles, and he was holding my hand for the happiest of lockdown endings when little Romi was born eight weeks ago in our bedroom, weighing 7 lb 13 oz.
SLOWING DOWN HELPED ME TO GET PREGNANT
Caroline Kampila, 41, is an assistant accountant and lives in Nottingham with husband Tamas, 47, a shop floor supervisor, and their six-month-old son Anopa. She says:
When Tamas and I were diagnosed with unexplained infertility after trying for a baby for more than five years, the last thing we expected was to emerge from the pandemic with a gorgeous son in our arms.
Although my periods were regular, my follicles on my ovaries never matured to a stage where an egg was big enough to be fertilised and I would have a fake ovulation.
Caroline Kampila, 41, and husband Tamas, 47, had been diagnosed with unexplained infertility after trying for a baby for more than five years. Pictured: The couple with baby Anopa
Following three failed attempts at IUI, I’d begun to accept that perhaps I wasn’t meant to have a baby.
But just before we faced the sadness of closing that chapter of our lives for good, we decided to have one try with IVF, bringing our total spend on fertility treatment to almost £12,000.
In February 2020, I had two embryos transferred and prayed that this last attempt to have a child would work. To our utter surprise, it did. Just before we went into lockdown, the fertility clinic had told us that one of the two embryos implanted had taken and the pregnancy was confirmed with an NHS scan a few weeks later.
I’d been told by nurses at the clinic to take it easy right from the time they started monitoring my follicles, and this was emphasised again after the embryos were implanted — even exercise had to be as gentle as possible.
The risk of miscarriage in women over 40 is as high as 50 per cent, versus 20 per cent in your 30s. I knew those early weeks of my pregnancy were crucial to it going to full-term and was relieved that, like most office workers, I had to work from home instead of doing a 40-mile round trip on the M1 to the office every day.
Caroline said she was able to get more sleep and was significantly less stressed than their previous attempts at fertility treatment. Pictured: Caroline and Tamas with their son
Confined to our home, life became less busy. Unlike with previous attempts at fertility treatment, when I’d go for a run or walk when I got home from work, then cook dinner before sitting down to study for my accountancy exams till late at night, this time I managed to rest a lot on the sofa or the bed and get more sleep.
It meant I was significantly less stressed this time around, including waking every morning without an alarm — all factors that I believe contributed to the embryo remaining attached to my womb.
The downside was that Covid restrictions meant Tamas wasn’t allowed to accompany me to any of those precious pregnancy scans at the hospital to witness our baby moving on the sonographer’s screen.
I’m convinced that working from home and not being allowed to dash here, there and everywhere were major factors in me having a full and healthy pregnancy and a beautiful son at the end of it.
NO MORE SQUEEZING SEX IN BETWEEN COMMUTES
Emma Bunning, 41, owns a talent agency and lives in Newton Abbot, Devon, with her partner Kim, 36, operations manager for a marine company, his daughter Scarlett, ten, and their four-month-old daughter Etta. She says:
As I cradled our gorgeous baby, Etta, when she was born last December, I cried with sheer joy and reflected that without lockdown we might never have had her.
Pre-pandemic, there were mornings where I’d pee on a ovulation stick at 5am, discover I was ovulating and wake Kim up for hurried sex before I had to dash to catch the 6am train to Paddington for work.
Emma Bunning, 41, said pre-pandemic, she and partner Kim, 36, would hurry sex before her commute. Pictured: Emma and Kim with their daughter Scarlett
It was hardly romantic and I felt dreadful for Kim, whom I met via the dating app Bumble when I was down in Devon visiting my parents one weekend in March 2019.
On our first date, in a beautiful coastal bar in Devon, Kim and I knew this was different to previous relationships and spent the next four days together, during which we chatted about our respective desires to have children — he already has a ten-year-old daughter, Scarlett.
Three months later, I moved to Devon to be with him and, having tried to convince myself for years that I didn’t want children because I’d never meet the right man, I realised that I did want them — desperately.
Although we’d only been together for a few months, we were so certain about our relationship that we saw no reason not to try for a baby. But a concerted nine-month effort to conceive, including marathon sex on a four-day break to Italy, was to no avail.
Emma said sex became relaxed, loving and frequent during lockdown, as she no longer had endless meetings and late nights working. Pictured: Emma and Kim with baby Scarlett
Then lockdown happened and suddenly my life went from being 100 mph to go-slow. TV shows, advertising campaigns and corporate deals for my clients were cancelled and I was no longer making the five-hour round trip to London for endless meetings or working late into the night.
Sex wasn’t squeezed in between commutes or business calls, it was relaxed, loving and frequent, as we were at home together. We had sex a lot more around ovulation and I’d lay with my legs up afterwards for 30 minutes while doing work emails from my phone.
On our first anniversary, in late April last year, I noticed my boobs were unusually sore and I kept falling asleep on the sofa at 9pm, so couldn’t resist taking a pregnancy test. When the little blue line appeared and revealed I was one-two weeks pregnant, I wrapped it up and gave it to Kim as the most precious anniversary gift we could have dreamed of.
I’m convinced that the sudden and dramatic slowing of my pace of life was a major factor in us having Etta and the little family we both longed for.
MY PLANS FOR IVF WERE CANCELLED
Kerry Watson, 30, is studying for a masters degree in psychology and lives in Dunfermline with husband Kenny, 32, a therapist working with military veterans. They have two sons, Harris, eight, and Alfie, 14 weeks. She says:
By the time I discovered I was pregnant with Alfie last June, we’d been trying for two years to have a brother or sister for Harris and were on a waiting list for fertility treatment.
Kerry Watson, 30, and husband Kenny, 32, had been trying to get pregnant for two years and were on the waiting list for fertility treatment. Pictured: Kerry and Kenny with their two sons
The irony was that we’d conceived Harris on our first attempt in 2012, when Kenny returned from serving with the army in Afghanistan.
When we sought medical help, tests revealed that I was only ovulating twice a year and I also suffer from polycystic ovaries and endometriosis.
Now that I have baby Alfie in my arms, I’m convinced that lockdown was my fertility treatment. It forced me to overhaul my frantic lifestyle and when non-essential medical procedures, including fertility treatment, were cancelled due to the pandemic, I vowed to use the time to improve my health.
Suddenly confined to our home last March, I could no longer dash between the school gates, the childminder and my university an hour away in Edinburgh. And with gyms closed I couldn’t maintain the punishing workouts I’d been doing five days a week. As I subsequently discovered, working out intensely can lead to the release of excessive levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can adversely effect fertility.
I bought a book called In The Flo about the positive influence lifestyle changes could have on my menstrual cycle.
Kerry said the slower pace of lockdown gave her the ability to look after herself while pregnant. Pictured: Kerry and Kenny with their son Alfie
At home all day, I swapped sugary snacks for healthy food.
After my gynaecologist explained that, although I wasn’t overweight, I had high blood sugar, which could lead to the production of too much testosterone — which can inhibit ovulation — I used a skin prick test three times a day to track my blood sugar and cut out bread and pasta, which were causing spikes. When we found out I was pregnant in June, I was thrilled but anxious as I’d had a miscarriage — my only pregnancy since 2012 — early last year.
For all its many challenges, the slower pace of lockdown meant I was also able to continue looking after myself while pregnant, and Alfie was born four weeks early on January 3.
I honestly think that without all the changes that the pandemic allowed me to make to my life, we might still be trying to conceive now.
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