When little baby Frankie met her two-year-old cousin for the first time, the moment was different to how their parents had imagined it would be, with the young ones introduced via a video call because of coronavirus restrictions.
Across the country parents of bubs born during this health emergency have had to get creative to introduce their babies to extended family.
For Stephanie Lawley, a new mum from Doreen in Melbourne’s north-east, it has been video calls that have allowed her family to see Frankie.
While Ms Lawley said technology had helped her and her husband Heath stay in touch with family as they isolated in their home, it also made some things more difficult.
For Ms Lawley it has been challenging to start motherhood without her own mum, or twin sister Charlotte, being able to visit and help out.
“My mum and I are incredibly close and for her not to be able to come in and help me, and not just help but hold Frankie and cuddle her and get to know her the way she had wished for and longed for, was incredibly difficult for both of us,” she said.
She said it was also the longest period of time she had gone in her life without seeing her twin sister.
But they haven’t been the only difficulties.
Ms Lawley said she also had to adjust to appointments with her maternal health nurse that were run over the phone.
“[That] has been challenging because being a first time mum I am not really sure what I should be aware of or looking out for,” she said.
“So I am just doing the best I can, relaying what I am seeing to the maternal health nurses, who have been great.”
Ms Lawley said she had also not been able to join a parents’ group yet because of coronavirus restrictions.
More time at home as a family and upside of the outbreak
Collingwood footballer and netballer Ash Brazill and her wife Brooke Brazill welcomed a son in January while bushfires were ravaging much of Australia.
Louis has now also lived through a pandemic before even reaching his six-month milestone.
Brooke said she was thankful that before the pandemic started they were able to join a parents’ group, which has been able to continue via video calls.
Ash said they were thankful to have maternal health nurse visits to their home before coronavirus hit, while they were still learning a range of new parenting skills.
She said they had help with things like bathing their son for the first time at home.
“I remember thinking, ‘How am I going to hold him? Is the bath warm enough or is it too cold?’ So we actually waited for the midwife to come,” she said.
The pair have also noticed some unexpected benefits of their time at home alone together.
It has also given Ash more time at home with her son.
If not for coronavirus she would have been spending much of her time at Collingwood facilities or in medical appointments, recovering from a serious knee injury.
Support still available for parents
Royal Women’s Hospital midwife Sarah Knight said many mums found raising a newborn isolating at the best of times, and coronavirus restrictions had added to that.
But she said it was important mums knew they could still access help.
“If you feel like you are not coping at home please reach out to your midwife, your GP or your maternal health nurse.”
Back in Doreen, Ms Lawley says she can’t wait until Victoria is able to ease restrictions and Frankie is able to finally spend time with her extended family.
“I am so excited for that day,” she said.
“I am just beside myself for my parents to be able to spend time with her and to love on her and that goes for Heath’s family and my sister and brother and extended family — we are so excited to be able to introduce her to our loved ones,” she said.