Mum separated from baby by nearly 50 miles after Covid birth trauma

Jamie Barford and Gemma Long with baby Finley Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Jamie Barford and Gemma Long with baby Finley at their Ipswich home - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

A mum has spoken of the trauma of waking from an emergency caesarean section to find her poorly baby nearly 50 miles away during the pandemic lockdown.

Gemma Long had been put under anaesthetic at Ipswich Hospital after her uterus ruptured, her partner could not stay with her, and when baby Finley was delivered he suffered two seizures and a bleed on the brain.

Finley - who Gemma describes as her "little miracle" - was whisked away to Norwich Hospital for extra specialist baby care for five days.

Gemma Long and Finley

Mum Gemma Long with baby Finley - Gemma has shared the story of her son's traumatic birth during the Covid-19 lockdown - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Mother-of-five Gemma, 27, said it had been a "horrible experience" after what had been a normal pregnancy with no hint of the trauma in which she was suddenly to be enveloped.  

She said: "It was awful, horrible. I woke from the operation expecting my baby to be beside me and was told he had been taken to Norwich.

"It was bad enough knowing that I had missed that moment of birth, and his first cry, first touch, first cuddle ... but for him to not be here and because of Covid and my operation I could not even see him.

Finley Barford

Baby Finley Barford while still in hospital - Credit: GEMMA LONG

"The doctors told me Finley had had to be resuscitated and there was a chance he might not pull through. And I had not even seen him."

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It was agonising for her partner, first-time dad Jamie Barford, 21, too, as he was not allowed to see Gemma or his son because of the virus restrictions.

Gemma and Jamie, of Nacton Crescent, Ipswich, were excitedly looking forward to the birth of their son when Gemma - albeit alone because of lockdown - was admitted to hospital on January 13 to be induced.

After monitoring by the midwives, it was felt Gemma was ready to give birth - however, she could not feel the contractions and Finley's heartbeat was dropping. It was decided that an emergency c-section would be needed because she had suffered a ruptured uterus.

Gemma, who works as a shop assistant, said: "After what had been a very normal pregnancy, everything suddenly seemed to go very, very wrong.

Jamie, Gemma and Finley, who has put on weight and is doing well after his traumatic birth at Ipswich Hospital

Jamie, Gemma and Finley, who has put on weight and is doing well after his traumatic birth at Ipswich Hospital - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

"Jamie had just been told he could come up for the birth and was told to leave again. I had to be put to sleep for the operation. It was absolutely horrible.

"When I came round eight hours later, I was told Finley had gone to Norwich and he only had a 50-70% chance and they didn't know if he would pull through. I couldn't see Finley and I couldn't see my partner because visitors were not allowed."

It was five days before Gemma, who needed five blood transfusions because of haemorrhaging and was in severe pain, could see her baby and two weeks before Jamie, who works as a mechanic, could meet his son.

Finley, who was born weighing 9lb 6oz on January 14, suffered two brain seizures because of his low heart rate.

Proud dad Jamie Barford with son Finley

Proud dad Jamie Barford with his son Finley, who he didn't meet for two weeks after the baby was taken to Norwich Hospital immediately after birth for specialist care - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Gemma, who also has children Lilly-May, nine, Charlie, eight, Tia-Rose, five, and Bailey, three, said: "When I think he had to be resuscitated for 11 minutes and they didn't know if he would make it, he is doing so well now.

"An MRI scan showed he had a small bleed to the brain but it was not progressing. He has to be reviewed in three months' time to check he is reaching his milestones, but he is feeding OK - he is now 10lb 10oz - and we have just had our first smiles from him.

"The staff at the hospitals were amazing - the midwives were brilliant - and we thank them so much for everything they did for us and the way they helped us through that traumatic time. After having had four children and a normal pregnancy, I just expected a normal delivery and never thought there would be a problem."

Gemma said they had also had a huge amount of family support during their hard time - including from her mum and step-dad, and Jamie's dad and sister - and sent a big thank you to them all.

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