It’s a new year, and a new era for Northern Ireland following our exit from the European Union.
ore importantly for certain delighted parents, however, was the new life that 2021 has brought into their world.
Unlike 12 months ago, the first babies of this new year had mothers and fathers wearing face masks in the maternity units as well as “restricted access” for doting dads.
It was also a break from tradition not to see photographers milling around, ready to capture the first arrivals of January 1.
Babies are born every day – and every New Year’s Day – but these 2021 newborns have a special significance.
They are the first members of the post-Brexit generation, the first born within Northern Ireland but outside the European Union for nearly five decades.
All Shaunna Murray cared about, however, was the health and well-being of little Adley, who arrived in the Ulster Hospital at 3.33am, weighing 4lb 9oz.
The 27-year-old Bangor woman gave birth to the baby girl via emergency Caesarian section.
“I arrived at the Ulster at 12.15am on New Year’s Day and she came at 3.33am,” Shaunna told the Belfast Telegraph.
“Her wee heart kept stopping every time I had a contraction so I had an emergency section.
“I was really worried about her so I’m so happy everything went well in the end.”
It is child number three for the full-time mum, who has two sons – Lucas-James (4) and Caleb (2) – with Andrew Carle (33), her partner of six years.
Shaunna told how her oldest son chose his sister’s name. “He watches an American girl called on Adley on YouTube and said that’s what he wanted us to call her,” she said. “I’m not getting out until Sunday and the boys are very excited about meeting her.”
Shaunna revealed there were some differences giving birth during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Andrew, who no longer works due to failing eyesight, was with her during the birth, although he had to wear a face covering in keeping with new protocols.
“He was allowed to come into the room with me from 12.45am and stayed until 7am,” she said.
“The only thing that was different this time was that everyone was wearing masks – including me at the start, but then they let me take it off, thank goodness.
“I haven’t slept for two days but I’m just delighted! My mum Christine and sister Launna are helping Andrew with the boys at present. I can’t wait to bring Adley home.”
Charlene and Martin Corrigan from Benburb, outside Armagh, welcomed a baby Laoise at Craigavon Hospital at 12.35 am, weighing 6lb 10.5oz. Mum Charlene said she was delighted to have been given the gift of a beautiful little girl.
“Everything went the way I wanted it to go so I’m extremely happy,” she told this newspaper.
“I was taken into hospital on Wednesday afternoon because I had to be induced.
“Laoise was born about five hours after my contractions started and she came very quickly in the end. I feel very lucky.”
Housing support manager Charlene (33), who has a two-year-old son called Conlaoch with sales manager husband Martin (36), revealed that it hadn’t been plain sailing during her last visit to the delivery suite.
“The first time around it was quite traumatic for me so it was absolutely brilliant to have a normal birth,” she said. “We’re so happy to have a son and a daughter – it’s lovely to have one of each.”
She added: “I’m going home tonight and I can’t wait for our family to be together. It’s the best possible beginning to a new year.”