Alayna’s urgent arrival makes Eyemouth history

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by Kirsty Smyth

Baby Alayna MacGregor-Copeland has marked her place in the history books after making a dramatic entry to the world - at Eyemouth Medical Practice last Wednesday (April 13).

Little Alayna became the first baby ever to be born at the Berwickshire health centre after Chirnside mum Kathryn MacGregor-Copeland and her husband Graeme Copeland were sent home from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

On arrival back in Berwickshire, inpatient little Alayna didn’t want to wait, and with no time to make the journey back to Edinburgh, Kathryn’s mum Alison drove her to Eyemouth.

Kathryn explained: “I woke up at 4am in the morning with pains and I thought my waters had gone, but I wasn’t too sure. I waited until about 6am, then I phoned the hospital and they told me to go up.”

When Kathryn and Graeme arrived at Edinburgh, staff confirmed that Kathryn’s waters had broken and that she was in labour, but it wasn’t very far advanced so they sent her home.

The couple, who were married last November, then drove to Kathryn’s mum’s house in Reston, and Graeme left to go to a dental appointment in Berwick.

Kathryn told the Berwickshire News: “I was heading back down the road with my husband and that’s when it all started.

“I never thought that I was going to have her so soon because I’d just been at the hospital and they had sent me home so I went to my mum’s. My husband had an appointment in Berwick so he went away for that.

“But when he’d gone the pains were getting stronger, and I told my mum I wanted to go back to the hospital.”

Alison phoned Graeme and he set off back to Chirnside. But he needed to get more fuel after the first trip up to Edinburgh.

Kathryn said: “My mum said that she’d take me up to the hospital, and Graeme could follow, but when I got in the car she must have known from having children herself that there wasn’t time, and she said she’d take me to Eyemouth.”

By sheer coincidence Kathryn, who has been registered at Eyemouth Medical Practice for most of her life, was due there that very morning for her final check up. When she arrived with Alison she was right on time for the appointment.

“The staff were wonderful,” Kathryn said.

“I was begging for pain relief but they didn’t have any. They called an ambulance because they have gas and air on them, but she was born before they arrived.”

Luckily proud dad Graeme just made it to the health centre in time to see the birth of his first child. Baby Alayna Alison MacGregor-Copeland was born just before midday, weighing a healthy seven pounds.

She was delivered by practice midwife Tansy Clift, practice partner Dr Ruth Booth, and a student midwife.

“My husband made it just in time,” Kathryn said. “It was a bit overwhelming for him but I remember him being quite calm. He’s like that anyway, he tends to take things in his stride!

“Everybody was absolutely amazing, the nurses were running in with towels and more towels!

“My own doctor came in to see me - he left his patients to come down.”

She added: “We always joked about whether we’d get to Edinburgh in time for the birth, but we never expected to make it there and then come away again!

“Alayna was two days early and she gave us a bit of a surprise with just how quickly she came, but she’s absolutely perfect.”

Proud nan Alison said: “I think it’s about 25-30 years since a baby was born in Eyemouth. It was quite dramatic!”

Alison said she made the last-minute decision to take Kathryn to the Medical Practice when they were en route to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

“Shortly after Graeme had left for his dentist appointment, Kathryn said she wanted to go back to hospital so we got ready and went back in the car,” she explained.

“We were still on the road from Reston to the A1 when she said ‘mum, I don’t think I can make it!’

“She said she felt like she needed to go to the toilet and at that point my mother’s instinct kicked in. I thought, right, Eyemouth is quicker.

“I thought it would be safer to go there because there are doctors there, not just me and her!

“We got there at 11.30, and the baby was born before 12 o’clock. There’s no way we’d have made it to Edinburgh.”

Alison also praised the Eyemouth Medical Practice staff, who calmly rose to the unusual challenge of delivering baby Alayna. “They were kind of shocked to begin with,” she said. “They saw Kathryn coming in and thought she was there for her appointment with the midwife! I don’t think they registered at first that she was actually in labour!

“There was a young couple in the room, and they quickly ushered them out. Everybody was absolutely fantastic.”

Kathryn’s GP Alan Mason visited Kathryn after baby Alayna was born. “Doctor Mason had a little tear in his eye when he came to see the baby - he’s been Kathryn’s doctor since she was one.” Alison said.

Despite the unexpected pit-stop, and a birth that certainly differed from the families birthing plan, Alison said it couldn’t have gone much better.

“In hindsight everything happened perfectly for Kathryn,” she said. “All of her doctors were there and her midwife.

“I was really proud of her, and Graeme as well.”

Alison says that Alayna has been unscathed by the drama she created. “She’s fantastic,” she added. “A little angel.”

And although everything went smoothy in the end, Eyemouth Practice manager, Gitte Blackley, says it was an experience she wouldn’t like to repeat in a hurry. “I think everybody was quite concerned about mum and baby,” she said. “Everything was fine, but it’s not a situation I’d like to repeat every day!”