Happy first birthday lockdown babies! We meet cute tots born during Covid pandemic

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With their cheeky personalities and beaming smiles, these birthday babies are bringing joy to the darkest of times.

All six share a special bond as they were born during the first week of lockdown last year and have only known life in a pandemic.

Their parents have had to raise them in challenging circumstances without the professional and family support networks new parents rely on.

With baby groups closed and families barred from having those first precious cuddles with the new arrival, many parents – especially those who found their finances stretched by furlough or were ­already struggling to home-school older ­children – reported low mood and isolation.

But despite the sacrifices, they all say their babies have made the long days and nights of lockdown a little less lonely.

As this unique generation of ­children prepare to celebrate their first birthdays, we find out what the past year has been like for the pandemic parents.

Have you had a baby during the pandemic? Email webnews@mirror.co.uk

Rosalind



Jenni and baby Rosalind
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After her first child was born ten weeks premature, Jenni Armstrong was hoping for a more straight-forward start second time round.

But the lockdown announcement led to her plan for a home birth being cancelled and daughter Rosalind arrived after a “chaotic” hospital delivery on March 25.

Jenni, 34, said: “We had to find childcare for our toddler Alexander and my husband wasn’t allowed on the ward until I was 4cm dilated.

“The rules were changing daily so the staff were often not aware of what the latest ones were.”

HSBC worker Jenni set up video calls with a “lactation consultant” to help with breastfeeding.

And although her husband Rob, 34, was working from home, Alexander’s nursery was closed so he needed looking after too.

“We were utterly exhausted,” Jenni said. “I was sick of unloading the dishwasher!”

It was three months before the rules eased enough for Rosalind to finally meet her family outside.

But Jenni, from York, said: “It wasn’t as joyful as it should have been because we were worried about safety.

“I went back to work in January and Rosalind has probably seen the nursery staff more than her grandparents. But for all the difficulties, her smiles and laughs have kept us going.”

Reese



Neighbours helped new parents Bec and Tom after the arrival of their baby son, Reece

Neighbours came to the rescue when Bec Storey’s husband was told to shield the day they brought their daughter home from hospital.

The first-time parents couldn’t even pop out to get nappies for newborn Reese because Tom, 40, is immuno-suppressed and clinically vulnerable.

Bec, 36, had a C-section on March 25 and Reese spent five hours in intensive care.

The communications executive, from Oxshott, Surrey, said: “We were totally alone – no visits from midwives, family or friends. But our community rallied round and got shopping to us until we could get online deliveries.”

It was three months before Reese met anyone besides her parents but in that time the couple formed a strong bond with eight other couples in their National Childbirth Trust group, who supported each other via WhatsApp.

Bec said: “It is upsetting to think our parents missed that newborn phase but we are incredibly blessed to have a happy, healthy baby.”

Lyra



Third-time mum Andi enjoyed a slower pace of life with baby Lyra

Lockdown gave Andi Nicholas the chance to master breastfeeding after a tough birth.

The 31-year-old found feeding tricky after having twin girls Ottilie and Billie in 2017 but her experience with third child Lyra was very different.

She said: “Instead of the rush of family visits, I could take my time. The downside was not being able to have help from grandparents and knowing their devastation at not seeing the children.”

Lyra arrived by planned C-section on March 26 but her dad Adam, 31, was only allowed into the hospital for the delivery, leaving anxious Andi in tears.

The family only moved to Hitchin, Herts, shortly before the pandemic and had planned to use Andi’s maternity leave to make new friends. But she said: “Having an empty diary was an unexpected positive as we are normally very busy.

“The older girls have become very nurturing of their little sister and I think that is because they were at home with us.

“Adam runs his own video production company and business slowed down initially, which was scary, but it allowed him to be more on-hand and eased our transition to a family of five. We were less stressed as a result.”

Maeve



Zoe wants to use her frozen embryos to make siblings for her lockdown baby Maeve

Solo mum Zoe King knew that having a baby without a partner was going to be hard – but when the lockdown was announced while she was in labour, she realised it would be tougher than she thought.

Zoe, 39, delivered daughter Maeve on March 24 with her GP sister Natalie as her birth partner. But the first few weeks weren’t easy.

She said: “I was expecting to do online shopping but I couldn’t get a slot. A friend in New Zealand ended up logging on during British night time and ordering for me!”

Maeve had problems feeding and Zoe went days without sleep but she said her midwives and health visitors in Fife, Scotland, rallied round to help.

After nine weeks, she even braved an eight-hour train trip to Herefordshire to introduce her parents to their first grandchild.

“I’d been completely on my own until then,” said the theatre stage manager. “But despite everything, this has been the best year of my life.


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“I’m already planning to use my other frozen embryos to give Maeve a brother or sister.”

Sabrina



Samantha checked herself out of hospital to keep her and baby Sabrina safe from coronavirus

A mother’s protective instinct kicked in when Samantha Latchford was left holding her baby after a four-day labour and emergency C-section.

Determined to keep daughter Sabrina safe from Covid, she was discharged from hospital 24 hours after the March 28 birth and cared for her newborn alone as her key worker husband Darren returned to his NHS job a day later.

Samantha, 34, said: “The postnatal ward was full of crying women and I asked staff to help me breastfeed but they were too busy.

“I had no choice but to give her bottles, which was soul-destroying.

“But I’ve always been a positive person and I think that got me through those first difficult weeks.”

While it was a steep learning curve for Samantha, who lives in Llantwit Major, South Wales, the lack of distractions during lockdown meant that she bonded quickly with Sabrina.

That’s not to say it was an easy ride, though.

Samantha said: “I remember crying down the phone one day, begging my mum to break the rules and come and help me, but she was too scared.

“My mother-in-law is in Northern Ireland, so she couldn’t help either.

“It was really tough at the time but it has made me a stronger, more confident woman – and a better mum.”

Samantha, who returned to work as an emergency gas engineer in September, said an unexpected highlight of the pandemic was having 10 days of self-isolation.

“It was the most quality time we’d ever enjoyed as a family because Darren’s job has been so busy,” she said.

“Sabrina is just learning to walk and has a great personality.

“I’m planning a big tea party for her birthday and our families will join us over Facebook Live.”

Matilda



Laura was thrilled her daughter’s furloughed dad got to spend lots of time with their daughter Matilda

The Crowe family had the opportunity to share precious moments with their two girls after dad Phil, 39, was furloughed following the birth of Matilda.

She arrived on March 27 when the family were self-isolating after six-year-old Harriet developed a cough.

Mum Laura, 36, said: “The hospital made us enter through a back door in case we were infectious and I couldn’t have a water birth or use gas and air.

“We were discharged six hours later in donated clothes. Thank goodness she wasn’t my first!”

Teacher Laura, from Boldon, Tyne and Wear, struggled to breastfeed and “switched to bottles after four days” but said: “Phil got to enjoy the milestones he missed first time and support me with the home-schooling.

“Financially, things were a bit tight but we were lucky to have the luxury of being in our own little bubble.”





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