Ararat mum Jess Seres shares her 'different' experience of pregnancy through the COVID-19 pandemic

FAMILY: Jackson and Jess Seres with the youngest member of their family Billie Kate and big brother Oliver Hudson. Picture: Studio 102 Photography
FAMILY: Jackson and Jess Seres with the youngest member of their family Billie Kate and big brother Oliver Hudson. Picture: Studio 102 Photography

Jess and Jackson Seres welcomed their second child, Billie Kate, on July 4, 2020.

Mrs Seres had a seamless pregnancy, despite the world in chaos around her - the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold in Australia during the first trimester

Rewind almost three years ago, the Ararat couple welcomed Oliver Hudson into the world, a delight when the doctor held up their baby and proclaimed "it's a boy".

"This pregnancy certainly was very different in some ways, similar in others," Mrs Seres said.

"Many people did not know we were pregnant and expecting another child due to the staged restrictions which took place during our pregnancy.

"We only went out of the house for the absolute essential reason which meant we didn't see many people, including our friends and family."

Mrs Seres said she was classified as a vulnerable person throughout the pandemic.

"It certainly heightened my anxiety surrounding leaving the house and trying to protect myself, my family and unborn child," she said.

"Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to still see my doctor face to face and attend my midwife appointments enabling me the opportunity to ask questions surrounding this pandemic and the unknown ahead in terms of my labour options and the birth of our daughter.

"The health care professionals were very reassuring and knowledgeable with all changes and relieved the anxiety associated."

Despite the 2.5 years difference and one amid a pandemic, Mrs Seres said the pre-birth processes of the two pregnancies were similar.

"I was very fortunate to not experience any morning sickness and travelled along nicely in my first pregnancy and there wasn't too much different with my second pregnancy either," she said.

"In my second pregnancy my husband attended all of the ultrasounds, however as the restrictions got tighter he didn't attend any of the midwife appointments and only a couple with the doctor.

"It grew more difficult to attend with a toddler and distance ourselves from other community members in waiting rooms."

"I was fortunate enough to still see my doctor face-to-face and attend my midwife appointments enabling me the opportunity to ask questions surrounding the pandemic restrictions and the unknown when sourcing information in terms of my labour options.

"The health care professionals were very reassuring and knowledgeable... and relieved any anxiety associated."

Mrs Seres works in the health care sector and was placed into an office role at 28 weeks to protect herself and the community.

"This was set out by the department, and put into place by my employer," she said.

"While I was disappointed to have my role changed within my workplace, I think having the appropriate knowledge gave myself a better understanding of the risks associated and how this was essential to protect my family.

"Coming down with a cold did mean I was required to be tested for COVID-19 in order to be able to work. Whilst the experience was unpleasant, my knowledge surrounding the importance of being tested and receiving a negative result eased the unknown, particularly as I had a little human growing inside me."

Mrs Seres said she felt her insight of birthing expectations and the care following the birth "undoubtedly assisted the second time around".

"We stayed in the hospital for 48 hours, I feel my previous experience as a Mum gave me the confidence to seek assistance or reassurance once we got home if I needed it," she said.

"I know I constantly count myself lucky to have been through a pregnancy before, particularly in these current times as the anxiety surrounding the unknown in terms of labour and caring for a newborn is extremely high for any Mum, especially a first time Mum.

"The care following the birth of your child has not changed, we were fortunate to have the midwife visit a couple of days after our discharge as well as the maternal child health nurse.

"This enabled us to ask more questions and know we had the support readily available should we need it."

Strict visitor requirements meant while in hospital and during the birth Mrs Seres could only have one visitor.

"The biggest concern I had prior to the birth of our daughter was what if my husband was working out of town and would miss the birth as I could only have one support person with me," she said.

"Thankfully we didn't have to worry about this as Billie arrived on a Saturday.

"My husband stayed for the duration of our hospital stay, however at the time of Billie's birth he was able to leave the hospital once a day.

"Because of the strict visitation limits it was very difficult to not see my son, it was the longest I'd been apart from him, it was sad that he couldn't visit me in hospital and meet his little sister."

Thankful for modern-day technology, Mrs and Mr Seres were able to introduce the two children "virtually".

"We were trying to help him understand and make sense of what Mummy and Daddy were doing and where we were," she said.

"While we couldn't have visitors, there was a positive: We were both able to take the time to bond with Billie and I was able to get the much-needed rest I needed in that first couple of days.

"Visitors are great but it can be really exhausting, so this time was actually a real benefit to us all, especially as once we got home we had a toddler to add into the equation too."

Mrs Seres said her transition into life with two children, amid a pandemic and Winter, does have its challenges, especially with a busy toddler.

"I have found myself to be home more frequently than what I was with our firstborn," she said.

However, not being able to participate in activities with my son that we did prior to COVID-19 has restricted a smooth transition as I'm now having to find alternate ways to occupy him.

"We would regularly attend rhyme time at the Ararat Library and Kinder gym up in Stawell, breaking up our week and enabling him to socialise with other children.

"As a second time Mum, you are not involved in a Mothers Group. Fortunately, I knew of a couple of other mothers who I reach out to often and together we chat about our experiences creating our own little new community."

Mrs Seres said she tries to pass on to other mothers her experience and tips to help people during what can be an anxious time.

"I have a few friends who are pregnant with their first child and I keep reinforcing to them to just focus on each day, and not think too far forward in terms of the changing restrictions surrounding birth and pregnancy care," she said.

"It was something I had to constantly tell myself, that it will be what it will be and I'm not alone, there are plenty of other women in the same situation as I am, and we just have to focus on the now and not the what-ifs.

Mrs Seres said she felt fortunate that a lot of family members lived close by but there was still some family in Melbourne living under stage three lockdown restrictions and hadn't met the new addition to the Seres family.

"It's certainly different not socialising and showing off a new baby," she said.

"Not knowing when we will have the opportunity to introduce Billie to some of our family is disheartening, but we understand the need for them to isolate.

"We haven't seen many of our friends, although they live in the region, because again, we are not wanting to put Billie or ourselves at risk, particularly due to her low immunity.

"We are thankful that we live out in regional Victoria with a great health service and access to support at any time.

"I do hope we don't end up in lockdown as being able to see and have the support and assistance from our families have made the transition a lot easier.

"Overall, this pandemic didn't make for a bad experience, it purely just made it different."

This story Pregnancy, a 'different' experience through a pandemic first appeared on The Ararat Advertiser.