A proud mum of triplets had to wait a week to cuddle her three new babies because she tested positive for coronavirus just hours before the birth.
Ashleigh Shirajudin, 30, was stunned to test positive for Covid-19 during a routine pre-operation examination before going into theatre. And it meant Ashleigh - who showed no symptoms - had to be isolated away from her three new daughters for the first seven days of their lives.
Babies Mia, Millie and Molly Mae, were eight weeks weeks premature when Ashleigh and husband Chris were told her C-section needed to be brought forward due to the Covid test result.
Ashleigh said: "After years of trying for a baby this isn’t how I had imagined the birth to be. All I remember them saying is I would probably have to give birth alone and wouldn’t be able to see my babies when they were born until my isolation period was over. I spent the whole day and night crying. But I'm glad they allowed Chris to be in there for the birth."
Staff at Glan Clwyd Hospital, in Bodelwyddan, decided if was safe to allow Chris to be at the birth but both parents were then forced to wait while the girls were cared for by neo-natal staff.
Ashleigh said: "The surgeon lifted the girls up so we got to have a look at them for a few seconds. They were tiny but absolutely perfect and screaming loudly which made me so happy knowing that they were all OK.
"As soon as each were born, they were taken away from us, into a different room and after a few minutes they were all out and all gone over to special care and we weren’t allowed to see them.
"I had to isolate in the ward for a few days, stuck in a room in hospital on my own and I wasn’t allowed to see the babies or my family. Babies are meant to have skin-on-skin contact all they had was staff touching them with gloves on. The staff were really understanding and said they couldn’t believe that I couldn’t see the babies, and one even brought me a gift.
"I was trying to recover and fight back the tears over the fact that we had had our perfect triplet girls but we only saw them for a few seconds before they were being taken away. We were counting down the long slow days until we would finally be able to bond and have our first cuddles.”
Care worker Ashleigh and Chris were hoping to add a younger sibling to nine-year-old daughter Layla when they received the shock news they were expecting triplets after conceiving through IVF.
Ashleigh was finally allowed to go home to Rhos-on-Sea, Conwy, from hospital but had to wait to visit her daughters on the special care unit.
She said: “Going home alone without the babies felt strange but I had known from the beginning that they would have to be in special care for a while, just not that I wouldn’t be able to meet them. The thing that kept us going was that the girls were all little strong fighters, after a day they could breathe all by themselves and they were feeding really well too.
“After seven long days I was finally able to be reunited with my girls. Now we are enjoying our busy live with our triplets. They are properly mine as now it is me rather than everyone else looking after them. It’s been lovely since being home.”
In a tragic twist just 15 days after the babies’ birth their paternal grandmother Rosemarie died after losing her fight to coronavirus. Little Mia has the middle name of Rose after her gran.
Ashleigh said: “I’m just glad their nan got to see pictures of the girls and I named one of them after her."
She had no symptoms before the pre-op check and the midwives all wore full PPE to deliver the triplets who all weighed in at around 3lb.
Debra Hickman, acting executive director of nursing and midwifery at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “We recognise that these restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic can be extremely difficult and upsetting for new parents.
“Our first priority in implementing this guidance is the safety of our patients, service users and visitors in prevention and control of infection in our healthcare settings. This is especially important when transmission of the virus is high, and we are seeing its impact in communities and hospitals across the region. We are really pleased to hear mum and babies are doing well and we wish them all the best for the future.”