“I’m 23 and from East London in the Eastern Cape. I’m a final year education student at the University of Fort Hare, and had a baby in May 2020.

For the most part all of my checkups were pretty normal but as COVID got worse I had to go to all my gynae checkups alone. The process was standard – I had to sanitise my hands and wear my mask throughout the process. I didn’t go to my local clinic any more because there was an increase in the number of nurses getting infected so the clinic would always close and then reopen, so I just got my vitamins over the counter for my own personal safety.

I planned on giving birth naturally, and had to be induced as I was beyond my due date.
I had to get my temperature checked before entering the hospital, and I said my goodbyes to my family. From that point on, I was all by myself. A porter pushed me in a wheelchair to the maternity ward where I got changed, and waited for my gynae to arrive. Later that day he came and he explained to me how the inducing process would work.

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At 5pm that day they induced me and I started experiencing pains (contractions) by 9pm that evening. It got very severe around 1am and by 3am it was at a point where it was completely unbearable. An hour later I felt as though I was ready to push and because of the pain it was almost as if I couldn’t help but push.

However my gynae warned me to not do that because my baby wasn’t in the correct position. My fiancé arrived at 4:30am, and waited with me until the anaethetist arrived. He really helped me to calm down because I was freaking out, and having been alone since arrival, it was great to see a familiar face.

My mask was supposed to be on the entire time, but I was pretty dramatic. I was getting hot flushes and screaming my head off so they allowed me to take my mask off, but everyone else, including my fiance, wore theirs.

We were both ecstatic when our baby was born at 5:30am, and it was very sad when my fiance had to leave so soon afterwards. It was hard for him as he really wanted to spend more time with us.

On my birthday three days later, I was discharged so I got to be home with the best present of all. I think a lot of emotions went into that day. I was exhausted, scared, excited and happy about this new journey I was on.

I honestly believe that my baby is a blessing and gift from God and I treasure him more than anything. I can barely remember what my life was like before him.

It’s been a rollercoaster as even taking him for his injections at the clinic is so scary, and I haven’t allowed any family to visit as I don’t want to risk getting the virus.

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Most of my family and friends only know my baby from the pictures and video calls that we share. It’s such a crazy time to live in, but it makes us realise how important life and the people in our lives are.”

By Luzandrea Ramlakan