“I feel real trepidation that every catch up, coffee and play date exposes my innocent baby to an invisible enemy”
Lilian, 37, new mother, Sydney
“Freddie was born six weeks early, just as Sydney was going into lockdown in July. For the first month, we were relieved to have a little newborn bubble for us to adjust to life with a little one without the demands of the outside world. But as a first-time mum, a tinge of sadness crept in as time passed for all the things that lockdown means we missed – a cancelled baby shower, grandparents who didn’t get to experience the sweet newborn snuggles of their first grandchild, and no in-person mother’s groups to soothe tired souls over coffee and a chat about the good, the bad and the ugly of new motherhood.
Now that lockdown’s been lifted, we’ve a line-up of family coming over every weekend, invites to playdates, and coffee catch-ups galore. I want to enjoy all of these things wholeheartedly, but the sadness of missing out of these things has been replaced by a real trepidation that every catch up, coffee and play date exposes my innocent baby to an invisible enemy, which are always the scariest kind.
But part of me thinks, maybe that’s just life. This world can be a scary place for bringing up a little one; maybe our job as parents is to control what we can (in this case by vaccinating ourselves, respecting social distancing rules) and to let our kids enjoy the world with abandon, without transposing our fears onto them.”
“Brides are telling me that they’re desperate to get married”
Elanie, 38, co-owner of wedding photography and videography production company C2 Films, Melbourne/Sydney
“Business was booming before Covid; we had crews in Sydney and Melbourne, and five post-production staff at our Melbourne headquarters. We had to scale everything back, as lockdowns obviously devastated the wedding industry, but we tried to view this quiet period positively, as an opportunity to review the business and streamline our processes.
Now, we can’t wait to get back to work again – and there’s incredible pent-up demand. Brides are telling me that they’re desperate to get married, but what they want has changed; now, instead of a big, lavish production with a huge guest list, they’re having 50 of the people they feel closest to. There’s also a move away from live-streaming their big day to producing a film that has longevity. Another trend? Weekday weddings. We have three Monday weddings in December, plus bookings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I’ve never seen the beginning of the week fill up before. I suspect flexible working makes it easier for people to take time off, and there’s a shortage of available venues, too.”
“I’m also very conscious of the government’s restrictions”
Holly, 26, gym owner and fitness trainer, Melbourne
“It feels like my life and business have been on hold in a weird state of limbo since the pandemic started. When Melbourne went into the first lockdown [at the start of 2020], my [fitness] business went downhill pretty quick. But in the following five lockdowns, I’ve been able to transition to online classes and, this time around, was allowed to do outdoor sessions with five clients.
Lockdowns are sadly a part of our lives now, so we’ve had to become agile, but it’s been frustrating seeing the business stand still and stagnate. Gyms are still closed under the new restrictions, but when we’re able to open the studio again, we’ll be able to have 150 people training. Of course, I’m looking forward to that day, but I’m also very conscious of the government’s restrictions and hopeful that people accept them and follow the guidelines. There’s been so much division, it would be really nice to come together and not fight each other on this one. First thing’s first, though, I’m getting my hair done today.”
“The first thing I’m doing is catching up with friends”
Isabelle, 19, university student, Melbourne
“Last week I nearly cried over bubble tea. I’d just finished my last uni assignment for the semester and all I wanted to do was go into the city to get a bubble tea, but I couldn’t, and I just felt like bursting into tears. It’s the small things I’ve missed the most during lockdown, but it’s also the thought of the big experiences I’ll never have.
Everyone says these are the best years of your life, but I celebrated my eighteenth and nineteenth birthdays in lockdown; I finished my last year of high school and started my first year of uni at home; I missed out on graduation parties, O Week and meeting my cohort in real life. I’m going to defer my studies next semester because I don’t want to do them online. In a way I feel ripped off, but mostly I just feel sad. I never thought that at the age of 19, the highlight of my week would be going to the supermarket.
The first thing I’m doing when lockdown ends is catching up with my group of friends from high school. Even though I’m an extrovert, I’m feeling a bit anxious and wondering what I’ll have to say. And even though I’m fully vaccinated, I’m genuinely concerned I could catch Covid-19 because case numbers are still so high. This experience has been incredibly isolating, but it’s also brought us together. We’ve gone through a shared trauma and I’m proud that we’ve got through it.”
“It’s a juggle to find room for everyone”
Dr Yasmine Ali Abdelhamid, 38, ICU specialist, Royal Melbourne Hospital
“I have mixed feelings about opening up – the hospital has been very busy since the start of this wave, and everyone is already tired, including me. I’m working my usual mix of day shifts, nights, overnight and weekends, but just more of them. At the moment, we have 87 Covid-19 patients in the hospital, of which 19 are in ICU, as well as the usual non-Covid patients, such as trauma and heart patients. It’s a juggle to find room for everyone; we’ve rearranged wards to take Covid patients, recruited additional staff and we’re in constant communication with other hospitals to try to share the load.
I’m really encouraged to read that our vaccinations rates are still increasing. Vaccination is the only way out of this situation. We know hospitalisation rates are going to go up when we re-open, but if people are getting vaccinated you feel it’s going the right way.”
“The pandemic took our control away, but I’m taking it back”
Lou, 30, burlesque performer, Sydney
“I cannot wait to get sweaty in front of an audience again. There’s nothing like the rush of performing on stage; it’s a place of no mind, a moment of real connection, pure bliss. Before the pandemic hit, I was doing shows at night and teaching dance classes at gyms during the day, so the first lockdown was a welcome break. This one has been a lot harder.
I’ve had low days where I’ve felt lost, but I’ve also had bursts of productivity and have launched my own online burlesque fitness class called FemFlexx, which has helped me get through. I’m coming out of this lockdown with thicker skin and feeling older, and more in control. The pandemic took our control away, but I’m taking it back. I’m not going to put up with crap or take lousy jobs anymore. My first gig back is booked for November, and I hope people are as excited to see a live show, as I am to perform.”
“I’m getting tested twice a week”
Samantha Gunn, 50, doula, Sydney
“Being able to support people in hospital again while they birth their babies is a joy. Slowly, it seems most hospitals are coming into line with the NSW Health advice, which is that there can now be two support people at a birth. I’m getting tested twice a week while I’m on call in order to comply with some hospital policies that require that all support people have a negative test within 72 hours of the birth. It’s a small price to pay to be able to do the work that I’ve been employed to do, after so long.
Couples who seek a doula want continuity of care, especially between home and hospital. To have to wave them off at the hospital door and keep in touch over Facetime was really difficult, and disappointing. We’ve made it work, but it’s not the same as being there in the room, supporting them. I’ve already attended one birth post-lockdown, and I have another two coming up that I have permission to attend. It’s just the best work.”
Illustrations courtesy of the amazing Gemma Correll