Little Love Stories 2020

Alone together.

Little Love Stories 2020 is a collection of portraits, & stories of motherhood and babies during a year of lockdown.

Having a baby is a beautiful, intense & emotive experience at the best of times, this year as we all learn to manoeuvre life amidst a world wide pandemic, mothers of young babies are enduring quite a unique experience, different to anything they could have imagined; our little lady was just a few months old when lockdown began, it was an incredibly surreal experience - though still filled with very special moments - which led me to photograph other mothers and share their stories. 

Little Love Stories 2020 is a personal portrait series, exploring, and celebrating how it feels to have a baby during this poignant period in time, and I hope by sharing a few stories other mothers with little ones might feel a little less alone. 

I hope for my daughter, that despite the intensity of the world during her first year of life, that she will continue smiling, and although as a mother I might mourn slightly for what I'd imagined my maternity experience to be - that we can still manage to find joy in all the little moments together.

Thanks for visiting.

Ray of Light

Lockdown Love - Lucy & Rory-4

Dear Rory,

2020 not the year most had planned, 2020 the year of the rainbow, for us you are a true ray of light in the darkness. We waited some time for you to complete our family and now you are here it feels so right.

We stayed home for months while the world tackled a difficult battle with a nasty virus. Some days I watch the wonder and joy in your eyes and feel grateful that you are too little to know what is happening around you. For you the most important thing is the love of your family, warmth and milk from your mummy, while the storm raged on outside we provided you with all you needed, we stayed safe and in return you give us so much joy, for which I’m eternally thankful.

We will tell you all about this time in years to come but your smiles and giggles continue to get us through this bleak time. You are so special and we love you so very much.

Love mummy xxx

Lucy lives in Bedfordshire, with her husband Stephen and their two children.

Rory is just the adorable, congratulations, he was born just before we went into lockdown is that right?

Yes just over a month before, 15th February, it felt very odd as people had just started to talk about this new virus, but thankfully my husband Stephen was allowed with me the whole time.

From my own experience, it's been a pretty surreal time to have a baby, tell me a little about your experience? 

It is very surreal, it really did feel like the movies at the start, we had a long and difficult wait with multiple losses before Rory finally came along. I always knew I wanted two children so knew he would be our last baby, I was so looking forward to all the things maternity leave brings, play dates, baby classes and coffee with cake, I have definitely mourned the maternity leave I versioned, however I gained wonderful moments with Adelyn and Rory, their bond is beautiful and Stephen although working upstairs got to have lunch with us and spent more time with Rory as a tiny baby, which to witness just burst my heart with love, such precious memories.

How was his birth and your recovery?

Well the birth its self was pretty speedy, but I had been induced which took all the stops to get things going. But once they did he came with force. I was still on the induction ward at 9cm, so we had a mad dash to get to delivery, which we just made it in time. I had a third degree tear so recovery was slow and painful; we only managed to get out the house a couple of times before lockdown started.

In between all the craziness of what's been happening in the world, have you managed to enjoy some quality time together?

We honestly had lots of fun, Adelyn our daughter had not started school at that point so no real home schooling had to happen, so we enjoyed crafts, family exercise and bonding as a family. To begin with we watched the news and listened to all the sad news but after a few weeks we only caught up occasionally and we felt so much better for it.

Did you get to see your family & Rory to meet relatives before we went into lockdown? And how is your daughter enjoying being a big sister?

Yes our parents got to see Rory, and his Uncle and Aunty got to meet him. Adelyn loves being a big sister; she gets the best smiles from him. She is very much a mother hen and is so caring to him. She told me the other day she cried happy tears when she saw him on video call before coming to the hospital to meet him.

Did you still have any midwife/ health visitor support/ doctors visits etc? How did that work? (we had a couple of surreal trips to the doctors where we were ushered in by a masked up nurse for Penny's jabs)

Because my recovery was slow the midwives did still come out to us for a little longer than they would normally, once in lock down I was worried about Rory’s weight gain, so called the Health visitor, they didn’t want to come out to start with but I pushed as my instinct was telling me it wasn’t ok, thank goodness I did they came to weigh him and he had dropped fairly badly and at least we could work on a plan to get him back up and healthy. Trips to the doctors felt odd for Jabs but overall I cannot fault them, I always felt safe.

Overall how have you found having a baby during a pandemic? Do you feel like you've missed out on anything? (Or have you been relishing your maternity/ time together? were there any particular highs/ lows?)

Actually having a baby in the lockdown gave us all a happy focus, we could shut the world out and just enjoy him. Of course it was hard at times but when you are in the baby bubble things always seem sweeter. I really tried to pause each day and think how lucky I have been. I did NCT refresher and luckily made some friends which was a life saver, there wasn’t a day went by that we didn’t WhatsApp’s each other for support.

Was there anything you found especially hard during the strict lockdown period over the spring/ summer? How did you keep your spirits up? Do you feel like Rory has missed out on anything?

I found balancing my focus difficult; I struggled to meet the needs of both children. I was breastfeeding and at times I would be stuck on the sofa for an hour or more and poor Adelyn had to find something to do but would often fight for my attention, naturally she was uneasy with the changes in the family to start with, but she was never jealous thankfully. But with Stephen at home working he could pop down and help in those times. We kept our spirits up by making stuff out of the millions of amazon boxes we had, I honestly think I had a delivery almost every day for a few weeks! We looked forward to the small things, VE celebrations and our wedding anniversary things like that.

Because he was so tiny I don’t think he missed out, he had everything he needed - family cuddles, milk and sleep. It’s now I feel he will miss out coming up to nine months, he’s really starting to enjoy baby class and seeing the world.

What do you love most about motherhood?

I love the love you feel, some days are hard going and life can be stressful. But when your baby cuddles in or holds your hand, the love you see in their eyes that’s what it’s all about.

Although it''s been a surreal year, bringing a baby into the world what have been your highlights?

Highlights have definitely been having Adelyn and Stephen home for the first smiles, giggles, movements. Seeing their happiness in seeing Rory's miles stones.

How are you feeling now we’re in a second lockdown?

The thought of further lockdowns is making me feel anxious, this time I do feel Rory will miss out this time around as he's now on the move, interacting and enjoying baby classes. We are definitely not in the new baby bubble anymore, but I'm so pleased we can get out and walk with another person that will make a big difference. I just hope the weather isn't too awful and that the lockdown relaxes when they hope it will

Do you have any tips for mums who have either had a baby during lockdown or are about to?

My tips are never be too hard on yourself, sometimes just getting through the day is all that matters, who cares if no one is dressed! I know this is easier said than done but its ok. Trust your mummy instinct it is normally right and finally enjoy the cuddles, the baby year flies by in a blink of an eye.

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Sunshine on a cloudy day

Kathryn & Evie

Lockdown Love - Katherine & Evie-211

'To our Evie,

For so many, 2020 has been an awful year. People losing loved ones, people losing jobs, businesses closing, and the separation from loved ones in lockdown. For us however, it has been the most amazing year, as it brought us you. Since you came into the world, you have filled everyday with so much joy and happiness.

Seeing you smile everyday, hearing you laugh everyday. You are the best thing that has ever happened to us. Mummy has been lucky enough to be on maternity leave this year and spend everyday at home with you. It has been the happiest year of my life. While the world shut down and we suffered a global pandemic, you have been our ray of sunshine. We will never not know how lucky we are to have you Evie. As you grow up, I hope you think you’re lucky to have us too. 

Mummy x'

Kathryn lives with her husband Warren & their daughter Evie in Silsoe, Bedfordshire.

Congratulations on your beautiful little girl, how are you enjoying motherhood so far?

I am absolutely loving it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, I feel so lucky and blessed every day.

Evie arrived a little early, just before lockdown is that right? Can you tell me a little about your experience, and how it felt to have your baby just before all this craziness in the world happened? 

Yes, she was due on 6th April but born on 29th Feb 2020. I felt very safe and looked after at the hospital. In hindsight I’m so glad she was early, as not only would I have not wanted to go into hospital in April, her being early meant that our family got to meet her before covid kicked off. As she was early, she needed some help with her breathing so was in neo natal for eight days.  Again, very lucky she was early, as only one of us would have been able to be with her otherwise, but instead we were both with her all day, each day until we had to leave. At the time covid hadn’t kicked off so there was no sense of what was about to come. I’m so glad she was settled at home before the world went crazy. How was her birth? After waters breaking at 34 weeks, I was finally induced five days later.  As horrendous as childbirth is, I was very lucky, with a pretty straight forward birth. I was in labour for eight hours, and had only gas and air. Apart from needing an episiotomy right at the end to help get her out, all in all it was straight forward so I feel very lucky. The worst part was her being taken straight from us and taken to neo natal. It was a very strange feeling, having just had a baby but her not being with us. 

Gosh that's a lot to go through I can see why you feel so blessed. After you & Evie came home did you have much support in terms of midwife, health visitors doctor visits? How did that work? 

I had a ten day midwife check, which was just before it (lockdown) all kicked off. After that I had no midwife or health visitor checks. I personally think that was pretty bad, especially considering she was premature, and no one was checking her. Luckily, I didn’t feel like I needed any support, but a lot of mums do, and to have no support from health visitors could be very hard for some people. Luckily we did manage to get her jabs done, similar to you, where we were greeted by a masked up nurse!

Becoming a mum for the first time is a pretty amazing and equally, quite an emotive & life changing experience at the best of times, how have you found having a baby during a pandemic? 

I have loved every single minute of it. Although the pandemic created some tough times, ie not being to see family, I felt like it prolonged my little newborn baby bubble, which I never wanted to burst. Someone said to me ‘it’s a shame that it’s ruined your mat leave’, but to me it hasn’t. Lockdown and 2020 in general would have been a whole lot worse for me, if Evie wasn’t with me. The fact that I’ve been able to spend every day at home with my baby has made lockdown and this pandemic a whole lot easier to deal with than it would have been otherwise. I feel very lucky that I have had Evie to spend it with.

Was there anything you found especially hard during the strict lockdown period over the spring/ summer? How did you keep your spirits up?

The worst part, without a doubt, was the eight weeks of full on lockdown when we weren’t allowed to go out (apart from to walk). Not being able to see family was just awful. You feel like they are missing out on so much not being able to see and hold your baby. That time when they are tiny goes so quickly, and I do feel like they missed out on that time, which made me really sad. We stayed in touch with facetime, like most people I think. Although the one thing that kept me sane was being able to exercise. It was also nice that Warren was on reduced hours for a while, so he got to spend a lot more time with Evie than he would have so that was nice and made it easier to deal with.

We met when lockdown eased & you posted a message on a local network asking if any other lockdown baby mums wanted to meet up, you seemed to have quite a response including me, I think I'd said to my husband the day before that Penny had never met another baby, do you think your message resonated and a lot of new mums locally may have felt isolated during this period?

There was a much bigger response than I expected there to be, I was only expecting one or two people to reply. It was actually really reassuring to know there were other people in the same position. Although I don’t think I ever felt isolated, I think I was still in my baby bubble the whole time, but I did start to think it would be nice to meet someone else with a baby the similar age so Evie can actually see another baby, and it has been lovely to do so, so I’m very glad I did. From what a lot of the mums have said, they have felt very isolated.

What do you love most about motherhood, is it how you imagined it?

Oh my gosh, so many things! Here’s a little list: The pure and unconditional love you feel for that little human is so intense it’s amazing, it’s like nothing else. Waking up every day and being greeted by the beautiful smile from your baby. Hearing her laugh The fact that life is exciting again thinking of all the adventures we’re going to have. (I think I’m still in my baby bubble, the reality might hit me soon) It is better than I could have ever imagined it.

I know you enjoy going to the gym, do you think exercise helps you keep a positive mindset? 

I think exercise is so important, not just physically, but mentally too. It definitely helps keep you sane and positive. I started exercising again at four weeks post partum, which is earlier than you normally should, but it was full on lockdown and I was spending so much time sitting around the house that I needed to do something and be active. It helped massively, and I think I would have struggled in lockdown without it.

How has being a first time mum during this unique period in time felt? Do you feel like you've missed out on anything or have you been relishing your maternity time together?

At first I felt like I was missing out going to baby groups, and meeting other mums, but I don’t feel like that now. Partly due to the fact I have now met some other mums, but I’ve also just loved being at home with Evie. You never get the time back when they are little, so I have been cherishing it. I think I told you about our struggles to conceive, so a couple of years ago, having a baby and being on mat leave, isn’t something that I thought I’d ever be lucky enough to experience. I think that’s partly why I’ve been so content just being with Evie, regardless of what we have or haven’t been able to do. Having said that, it has been so nice, the last couple of months since we’ve been able to do more things and get out and about.

How is Evie with meeting new people now, I know Penny went through a stage where she would burst into tears when she saw people after the three month period, though she's a little older – do you think it had an effect at all?

I was worried that Evie might be quite clingy due to not seeing other people for 8 weeks, but luckily she doesn’t seem to have been affected by it all. She loves being around people. Maybe it had the opposite effect with her and she got bored with mummy at home and that’s why she loves being around people so much.  Although it''s been a surreal year, bringing a baby into the world has to be a highlight & possibly lots of lovely family time at home. 

Do you have any highlights?

To be honest, every day has felt special. I’m definitely still in my baby bubble aren’t I! I don’t think it will burst until I have to go back to work! But every single day with Evie has just been amazing. I guess the highlights have been the day she came home from hospital, and also introducing her to the family. But other than, just being with her and hearing her laugh every day, is my highlight. Although to add to that, introducing her to family again after lockdown was pretty special. 

Do you have any tips for time mums who have either had a baby during lockdown or are about to? 

Focus on the joy of your baby, and not what we can’t do. It’s amazing how much easier things are if you are positive. If you need support, it is out there, albeit remotely. But if you don’t need support, then just cherish every minute with your bundle of joy. It may be different to the experience you thought you might have, were things normal, but that doesn’t mean the experience isn’t as good, it just means it’s different. But still as amazing and special. 

The worst part by far has been being separated from family, but actually, once lockdown was lifted and we could see people, I feel that I made up for lost time and have spent so much time with family. Due to a sister being on furlough and Evie’s cousins being off school, we were able to see so much more of them then we would have been able to if things were normal. So actually that was a really positive part of this whole pandemic for me, and I got to spent a lot of mat leave with them, which wouldn’t have been the case if the world was normal.

Now we're facing a second lockdown is there anything you would like to add?

I'm feeling extremely sad facing another lockdown, and once again not being able to see family. Evie loves being around people so she will miss not seeing anyone as much as I will. All we can do is stay positive and remind ourselves how lucky we are to be able to spend lockdown with our babies.

Thank you x

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