Call the Midwife actress Juliet Oldfield has spoken about the emotional experience of giving birth on her own in hospital due to the coronavirus lockdown. Juliet, who welcomed a healthy baby girl, was encouraged to come to the maternity ward without her husband to minimise the risk of infection and to avoid finding childcare for their eldest daughter, Amelie.
Juliet had to go to hospital alone
Chatting to HELLO! about the unique experience, Juliet explained: "I started contractions and I stayed at home as long as I could... We spoke to a midwife who said, 'If you can go alone, it's the best and safest option,' so I stuck to it. [After a while], I called the maternity ward and they invited me in, and at that point it felt fairly exciting because that's how we'd tried to keep it for our daughter because she's seen me not looking very comfortable, so we were giving her little jobs. She was helping me and saying, 'Okay mummy,' so it was very sweet but very emotional. I was trying to shield tears away from her and my husband."
Fighting back tears, the mum-of-two continued: "The hardest point was when we pulled up outside of the hospital and my daughter was confused and said, 'Pay for the car park daddy so we can go in together,' so we explained that we had to say goodbye until the baby arrives and she got emotional because she didn't quite understand. Kissing my husband goodbye was tough to say the least. It makes me feel very teary now!"
Juliet was full of praise for the hospital staff
The actress, who also owns her own virtual birthday party business, explained that she had to surreally make her way through Kingston hospital to the maternity ward on her own while kitted out in PPE, explaining: "I did have to do a really long walk on my own in between having contractions and I was masked up and everybody had full protective gear on so it was one of the oddest experiences. I found it odd, but it was just the norm for the staff." She added that she later took off her mask in the room following assurances from midwives, explaining: "I did wear [PPE] for quite a long time in the initial stages and they reassured me because they were all wearing it and I was in a room in my own, that I was okay to take my mask and gloves up. I did have antibacterial hand gel and wipes too so for my own anxiety I gave things that I knew I'd be touching a lot a wipe. It wasn't to do with the hospital cleanliness because you could tell everything was pristine, it was just to relax me."
Despite the emotional situation, Juliet was full of praise for the hospital staff, particularly her hugely supportive midwife, Lizzy. She said: "The midwives were unbelievable. They were so chatty and happy and upbeat. They couldn't have done more for me. My room had fairy lights and dimmed lighting and all the blinds pulled and made it feel as relaxed as possible... I kept shouting for my midwife Lizzy and she held my hand the whole way through. She was so brilliant."
While Juliet's daughter was delivered safely, unfortunately she had to stay in hospital for two nights after losing blood during labour, meaning that her husband wasn't able to see their newborn daughter on the first day of her life - which was incidentally also on her birthday!
Juliet and her husband welcomed their second daughter
"Strangest birthday ever," Juliet joked tearfully. "That was quite sad because I really tried my best. They tried to discharge me that evening but they just felt that it was safer to stay in for one extra night... [My husband and daughter] actually tried - I had a large window overlooking a carpark - so I said, 'Come to the carpark and I'll wave to you both from the window,' so they came and I didn't realise that the window was mirrored from the outside. It was so upsetting because I could see them but they couldn't see me. It was just torture!"
READ: Call the Midwife actress Juliet Oldfield to give birth alone amid coronavirus pandemic
Despite the very unique circumstances of her newborn's birth, Juliet and her husband are now safely at home with their two daughters. "We're... in a surreal little bubble," Juliet said. "She's brilliant, very cute and our other daughter is obsessed! She's very happy and being very good at helping and my husband is here so it's been brilliant in a way. A silver lining in all of this, so we're enjoying the bonding time as the four of us. But it is a rollercoaster because we can't see grandparents which I can't think about too deeply, because it's too sad. We've been taking videos on a daily basis to create a memory bank of that time so that family can feel like they're part of it."
Check out Juliet's Instagram here, and book one of her virtual parties here, where she will be donating a portion of every booking to Kingston Hospital.