'Pharmacy family' grows as 5 employees welcome new arrivals during Covid

Five women who all work in the pharmacy at Ipswich Hospital have given birth during the coronavirus pandemic

Five women who all work in the pharmacy at Ipswich Hospital have given birth during the coronavirus pandemic. Top row (from left to right) are Cara Medd, Marianne Eve and Amy Souter, with their new-borns. On the bottom are Christine Hadley and Sajitha Chacko with their new arrivals. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Five women who all work in the pharmacy at Ipswich Hospital have given birth during the coronavirus pandemic - but have not been able to meet each other's newborns due to the restrictions. 

Cara Medd, Marianne Eve, Amy Souter, Christine Hadley, and Sajitha Chacko welcomed their new arrivals at Ipswich Hospital within the space of six months.

The "pharmacy family" said it has been a tough time going through pregnancy during coronavirus, but having each other there to support one another has made it much easier. 

Christine Hadley, 29, who has been a pharmacist at the hospital for more than six years, was the first of the colleagues to find out she was expecting. 

Christine and her daughter Charlotte Hadley. 

Christine and her daughter Charlotte Hadley. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The first-time mum welcomed her daughter Charlotte Hadley on June 2, and she spent much of her pregnancy journey in lockdown.

She said the experience was not what she had expected, and it has been hard not having her family around to support her, but she has loved her first few months of motherhood.

"It was hard not having the support here in the early days, but it was so exciting that my colleagues were also welcoming children," she said. 

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"We all catch up over Whatsapp and have been there to support each other."

Amy Souter, 34, was the second of the friends to give birth, welcoming her first child Henry Mcclean on August 25. 

Five friends who all work at Ipswich hospital pharmacy are all on maternity leave together

Amy Souter and her baby Henry McClean, who was born in August at Ipswich Hospital. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

She has worked as a community pharmacy technician at Ipswich Hospital for more than six years, and said it has been "a blessing" to have the other mums support. 

"It's been quite tough and I feel like we have been robbed of our chance to introduce our babies to each other and see one another," she said.

"But it has been amazing being a mother to Henry and so many new mums are going through the same thing. The Ipswich Hospital team are all working so hard."

The third of the friends to welcome a new arrival was Sajitha Chacko, 28, who gave birth to her second son Ezekiel Momino Chacko on September 22. 

Sajitha Chacko and her son Ezekiel, who was born in September. 

Sajitha Chacko and her son Ezekiel, who was born in September. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

She had to have an induced labour, which meant it was over very quickly.

So fast in fact, that her husband only just got there in time for the last 10 minutes of labour, as he was not allowed to be there for the whole duration due to Covid. 

"It has been so exciting for us all, but not so great for the department," said the 28-year-old, who has worked as a pharmacist for five years. 

"We all work quite closely so it was really fun when we all found out, and it's been great to share our experiences and our pharmacy family is very supportive. I'm looking forward to a baby play-date as soon as it is safe."

The fourth of the pharmacy team to find out she was pregnant was Marianne Eve, a 31-year-old first-time mum who has worked at the hospital for more than seven years. 

Marianne Eve with her baby Manon Sperling-Eve, who was born in October. 

Marianne Eve with her baby Manon Sperling-Eve, who was born in October. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Her daughter Manon Sperling-Eve was born on October 3, but suffered with jaundice in the first few days, both of them having to be re-admitted to hospital.

Since getting her home they have enjoyed spending time as a family-of-three, but have struggled not having family and friends around for support.

"It's been difficult, definitely, but also amazing being a mum," she said. 

The last of the mums to give birth was Cara Medd, who welcomed her daughter Romee Waller on November 5, 2020.

Cara Medd with her baby Romee Waller, who was born at Ipswich Hospital in November. 

Cara Medd with her baby Romee Waller, who was born at Ipswich Hospital in November. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

She has worked as a ward based dispensing technician in the pharmacy since 2014 and found out she was pregnant when Covid first hit, meaning she had to tell her manager before her family so she could safely get off the ward.

She said Romee "completes the family" and they have loved having family time together, bonding without the distractions of others. 

However, she is looking forward to introducing her little one to the rest of her pharmacy family as soon as it is safe to do so.

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