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Lochbuie baby Abigail Holland has made hospital history on Mull.
A photograph of the tot, who is on record as the first baby to be born at Craignure Hospital since it was built eight years ago, is now framed and ready to go up on its walls to mark the special occasion.
Staff who helped have had another delivery since – this time of cupcakes, sent as a thank you by Abigail’s family.
Abigail’s debut four weeks early into the big wide world was dramatic to say the least – it involved a stormy night, paramedics negotiating 50 miles of bumpy single track, a James Bond style RIB dash from Oban, two medi-helicopters, a neo-natal critical care team and a Sea King coastguard rescue to Prestwick Airport.
After all of that and a week of special care miles away from Mull in Ayrshire at Crosshouse Hospital , Abigail is now back home in Lochbuie with her family. Grateful mum Alison, proud dad Grant and big sisters Lucille, 7, and Jessica aged two all doing well.
Abigail was born the day after doctors at an Oban scan agreed to induce her in a fortnight’s time at 38 weeks because she was already so big.
But Abigail was not going to wait that long – back home that night Alison took herself off to bed feeling ‘a bit off’ and without eating only to wake in the early hours with contractions ‘coming thick and fast,’ she said.
‘I told Grant to ring an ambulance quick. My last two labours were fast, over in three hours from start to finish, so I knew this would be the same.
It took paramedics about 35 minutes to reach them down a single-track in wild weather, chucking rail and a howling wind. With no midwife on the island, instructions from Oban came over the phone to get Alison into the ambulance and off to Craignure Hospital where a waiting helicopter would take them to Paisley.
‘Neither of the two nurses or the doctor at Craignure had ever delivered a baby before but they were brilliant. Only one of the paramedics had some experience – but that was only the basics. They were all amazing looking after me but they were like deer in headlights.
‘I was on gas and air and turned to ask them to rub my back when I felt I needed to push. Three pushes and she was out. Everyone was gobsmacked. It all happened so fast,’ said Alison.
Medics were worried about Abigail’s breathing and plans were made for two helicopters – one each for Alison and Abigail – to get them off the island. A special neo-natal transport team (SCOTstar) was also going to be picked up and flown in but the treacherous weather forced both helicopters back.
A Coastal Connections RIB boat was launched on a mission to bring a midwife over from Oban to check mum and baby.
‘It was James Bond style,’ said dad Grant who works for the NHS.
Because of the weather, a Plan B was needed to lift them off Mull and a Sea King helicopter was called to the rescue.
Luckily Alison was well enough to fly with Abigail who travelled in a special incubator and was flown to a neo-natal unit at Crosshouse Hospital where she was closely monitored for a week, needing four days under UV rays for jaundice.
Grant had to get the first ferry off Mull before dropping Jessica and Lucille off at their aunty’s in Oban and driving to Crosshouse to be reunited with Alison and their new baby girl.
After a week, Abigail got the all clear and the family headed home.
‘It was so emotional. It had been hard not being with Jessica and Lucy but we were in the right place for Abigail. I just cried when we got them all together,’ said Alison.
‘Abigail is going to have such fun telling people about when she was born. We are thankful for all the wonderful care we received from everyone involved – there were so many of them!
‘We’ve had a photograph framed of Abigail with her birth date and weight on it so it can go up at the hospital to mark the occasion of her being the first baby born there!’ added Alison.
Caption: Welcome to the world. Baby Abigail with mum Alison Holland