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Abbotts family Alcester speak about having baby at Warwick Hospital during coronavirus lockdown

BROOKE Christine Abbotts said hello to the world on New Year’s Day – a precious newborn bringing hope and love at a time of loss and uncertainty.

First-time mum Laura Abbotts spoke to the Herald about the experience of having a baby during the pandemic with all its restrictions.

Brooke was born at Warwick Hospital but has settled back at home in Alcester with Laura and dad Neal, who say they are “absolutely over the moon with her and love her to pieces”.

When Laura found out she was pregnant she was still working, managing the pet centre at Mappleborough Green Garden Centre near Redditch.

She said: “The pandemic was still new and we didn’t know enough about Covid. I was a bit worried about going in to work and obviously in the early days I knew I was pregnant and didn’t tell anybody.”

It’s been an eventful few months for the couple, to say the least. They got married in October, moved house in November, squeezed in Christmas and then had Laura ten days ahead of her expected due date.

Having a baby during the time of the coronavirus had definitely caused extra worry, according to Laura. She said: “When I was carrying her I didn’t know if I had Covid or what the harm would be.

“You don’t get to see your midwife until much later on. I was actually 32 weeks when I first met her. As there are no physical appointments, I haven’t met anyone else who’s pregnant during the entire time either. You miss out on all the classes you could have gone to.

“I’ve never had a baby, so I wouldn’t know exactly, but it feels like you’re missing out on all the things that you would normally experience.”

Fortunately Neal was able to be at the labour and birth. “I actually had a caesarean in the end and he was allowed in for that,” said Laura. “But he was only allowed to stay for three hours after Brooke was born, and then we weren’t allowed any visitors.

“Luckily, I was allowed out the next evening. I don’t think I would have coped very well being in there for a long time with nobody coming to see me.”

Laura had nothing but praise for Warwick Hospital and said the staff were amazing, but added that the virus and its restrictions were a constant presence.

She said: “They even did a Covid test while I was in labour. Obviously the staff are all masked up all the time and you are aware of them changing their PPE constantly.

“When you’re in labour it’s pretty frightening – you don’t get the reassurance you would when you can see people’s faces properly. Neal also had to wear his mask too so I couldn’t see his face either. Although I didn’t have to wear a mask in labour, you do afterwards.”

Laura added: “In the end I had an emergency caesarean – and the team were brilliant. Again, I was a bit frightened at times, especially with the uncertainty, not knowing how long you are going to be in for and not being allowed visitors. I was in a room on my own and didn’t really see many people, and because of the caesarean I wasn’t able to pick Brooke up.”

Now mum and baby are back home and builder Neal has returned to work, Laura said the lack of normality was still a bit of a struggle.

“I worry about myself or the baby catching Covid, so I find even just going for a walk a bit stressful. I feel a bit stuck.”

Even though Laura’s mum Christine is in a bubble with the family, and so able to visit and help out, she is missing sharing the baby with loved ones and visitors.

Laura said: “I do miss my family. My nan lives in Wolverhampton so I can’t see her.

“She’s a great-nan now and she hasn’t met her great-granddaughter.

“I love looking after Brooke but you do feel a bit isolated when you don’t have people coming to tell you how nice your baby is.”

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