Craig and Gemma Olde’s first child, Indiana, was born just as restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 were first implemented in Australia.
They reflect on the arrival of their daughter and talk about what the first weeks of her life were like for them as new parents during such a challenging time.
From normal to surreal
“The global pandemic was declared the same week Indiana was born. So, while the whole world went through this upside-down change, we went through our own little upside-down change,” says Craig.
For Gemma, who was rushed into hospital for an emergency caesarean, the hospital actually provided something of a refuge from the outside world.
“We were so caught up in our own world, it felt like a safe bubble there, particularly in the maternity ward. But by the time we left the hospital, distancing measures had come into place so we felt like we were straight into lockdown, which was really, really weird,” she says.
As well as having to come to terms with the isolation brought about by physical distancing restrictions, Gemma and Craig were underprepared in terms of having a supply of simple daily grocery items that had suddenly become hard to find.
They also felt understandably saddened that, for the near future, their close family and friends wouldn’t be able to meet Indiana in person and share in the joy that a newborn brings.
“We were planning on visiting my mother and grandmother in Queensland three weeks after the birth,” says Gemma. “Obviously, we had to cancel the trip, so they missed out on meeting Indiana as a newborn. I know my mum was pretty upset, as were all our family. Craig’s family live in Western Australia, so it was the same for them too. We did feel very sad about it, but you've just got to get on with things.”
On the bright side
Fortunately, while they may not have access to hands-on help from loved ones, the couple felt well taken care of in terms of medical advice and support.
“We had the maternal health nurse on call, which was great,” says Gemma. “She couldn't come around unfortunately, which wasn't ideal, but she was only ever a call away if we had any questions. If it was something tricky to describe, like a rash, I'd take a photo and text it to her. She also checked in regularly with me about my mental health.”
As the pair are used to their family living interstate, they describe themselves as “pretty independent”, which has turned out to be a good thing. They also fully embracing the fact that the pandemic is affording them extra time spent together as a family – a massive silver lining in their eyes.
After Indiana was born, instead of me having to go back to work after only two weeks parental leave, I was able to work from home, so there was definitely an upside to the situation,” says Craig. “There's just no way I'd have been able to spend the same amount of time with Indiana and Gemma under usual circumstances.”
“The fact that we were all at home together for so much time was pretty amazing,” agrees Gemma. “We really try to focus on the positives, on the fact that we got that extra time together – same goes for when we're in lockdown. But we can’t wait to take her to meet our families as soon as we can.”
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