Lockdown Babies: We speak with Melanie from Paintings for Oakley
Hello Melanie! We’re so happy to meet you. How’s your week going?
My daughter, Georgia Fleur, turned two weeks old! So we were visited by the midwife who discharged us from her care and we also had a phone call from the Health Visitor who asked lots of questions about our welfare. I thought there would be very limited visits during lockdown, but we’ve had two midwifes and a breastfeeding expert over. So support has been good actually.
Today my husband has returned to work after paternity leave. So I woke up feeling slightly daunted at the prospect of several months with a baby and a toddler - life is challenging at the moment but it is also full of love, cuddles, silliness and snacks. Lots of snacks.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m married to a synthesizer addict, I’m mother to a newborn baby girl, a sassy two-year-old girl, stepmum to a 7-year-old boy and catmum of four. I love being in the outdoors with my family, watching them all be weird and wonderful together.
I’m the woman behind ‘Paintings for Oakley’ which was founded after our son was stillborn in 2017. It started as a creative outlet for me and is now a small business selling bespoke watercolours and homeware. Everything I create is dreamt up in a small village in-between Staffordshire and Cheshire.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience of having Georgia Fleur?
Pregnancy can be an anxious time for even the most confident of women. With a history of baby loss, I am a perpetual kick-counter and have always struggled to think positively whilst pregnant. So a worldwide pandemic and law-enforced lockdown have obviously exasperated my emotions lately. But when I look back over recent weeks, my antenatal care wasn’t really affected all that much. Yes - my husband couldn’t attend scans. But I was still getting scanned and that’s the important thing.
I was induced two weeks early on the advice of my consultant. This meant I had to go into hospital on my own and my husband could only join when I was in established labour. As terrified as I was, in hindsight, it really made little difference. On the induction ward, I just listened to music and bounced on the labour ball waiting for things to get going. My husband would have probably been very bored and not much help!
How has coronavirus affected your plans?
I had really wanted to have both my girls christened once Georgia was born, so sadly this isn’t a nearby prospect (I’d pictured a tiny baby in a beautiful white gown, but I guess she’ll have to be a large baby in a beautiful white gown.)
Obviously, we’ve been unable to see friends and family which is a real shame. But at the same time, having no visitors has enabled us to relax in our own home, not worry about having cake in or the appearance of the house. Lockdown has been a very peaceful experience so far.
Is there any particular moment recently that has stood out for you?
Georgia was born at 2.45pm and by 6.30pm we were home again. Because of coronavirus the hospital staff were very happy to discharge me quickly. This may not be appealing to some mums, but I was certainly grateful to be out of the hospital environment and back at home with my precious baby, in my own bed, establishing breastfeeding in a safe and loving environment.
Have you been able to keep in touch with family and friends during this period?
My eldest daughter is two years old and we really needed childcare for when we were both in hospital. So I have seen my mum on a couple of occasions which has been a true blessing. I would usually have seen my sister, dad and mother-in-law but we have had to settle with Facetime. I think this has been tough for them, especially as babies change so quickly and now they have missed those precious newborn days.
How are you feeling generally during these corona times?
Fine. And then terrible. And then crying. And then laughing. And then screaming. And then grateful. And then over it. And then determined. And then terrified. And then anxious. And then happy. And then exhausted… all in the same minute.
Any new lockdown discoveries you would recommend?
I’ve taken up wire writing! Literally, creating words out of wire. You can see some creations on my Instagram. It’s really quick and easy to do.
Three things you’re most grateful for at the moment?
1. The safe arrival of my beautiful, healthy baby girl.
2. To have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and the NHS.
3. Haribo and tea.
Do you have any advice for all the new parents having babies in lockdown?
You can find support through some brilliant Facebook and Instagram communities. There are even pages specifically for pregnant women during coronavirus. Some have been created for individual hospitals too.
Try to focus on the silver linings – like not having loads of visitors, exclusive time with family and pets and the fact there’s no need to be anywhere right now.