Coronavirus lockdown could keep St Andrews mum from baby’s birth
Olivia Rowlands came through cancer treatment but as a result she went into the menopause. Olivia Rowlands and her husband Sam are expecting a baby girl in July.
The baby is being carried by her cousin, Ellie Hutchinson, after treatment for bowel cancer left Olivia unable to go through pregnancy.
But lockdown means many of the precious moments of the pregnancy have been experienced by video and the new parents may not be at the birth.
Olivia, 31, a primary school teacher, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2017, when she was 29 years old.
After 29 sessions of radiotherapy, she went into early menopause.
Having frozen four embryos at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee prior to her treatment, she and her husband embarked on a surrogacy through Ellie, 34.
Olivia grew up in Dubai and had not seen her cousin since she was a year old. Ellie came forward after Olivia had put out an appeal for a surrogate and the long lost cousins met up and decided to go for it.
After a miscarriage scare in November, the pregnancy progressed perfectly.
However, the introduction of coronavirus lockdown measures have meant a drastic change in the process they were expecting.
Now they are unable to see Ellie or experience first-hand the big moments of the pregnancy.
Speaking to Drivetime with John Beattie on BBC Radio Scotland, Olivia said: “We froze four embryos back in November which we had implanted into my cousin Ellie and we are now 28 weeks pregnant.
“But we haven’t seen her for two months. She went into self-isolation two weeks before the lockdown started because she was pregnant and wanted to be careful and stay safe.
“We have Facetime and photos but it has meant we have missed appointments – like the one where where we would hear the heartbeat for the first time.
“But Ellie was amazing and recorded it and sent it to us straight to us after the appointment finished.”
They will also miss a meeting with the consultant to decide on a date for Ellie’s C-section. And they are still not sure if they will be allowed to go to the hospital for the birth.
Olivia said: “It is horrible to think about but we are trying not to think about it too much because things are changing so fast.
“I’m a positive person but there have been times I have been frustrated, not being able to see her and seeing our bump and also knowing she is not able to hear our voices and music we listen to.
“But it makes a big difference that it is a family member carrying for us and we have recorded ourselves talking and made a playlist and Ellie has little headphones she sticks on her bump.”
Olivia and Sam are still hoping lockdown restrictions may be relaxed by July, as both their parents live abroad and as things stand they will be unable to visit to give them support with their newborn.
They also hope they can be there when the baby is born.
Olivia said: “Ellie’s having a C-section. Normally you’d only have one person in and that might be Ellie’s husband or me, or my husband, but hopefully we can all be there and I think I will be an absolute mess when she is finally here.
“I don’t think there are words for how excited the two of us are.”
‘Better to be safe’
After two years of hospital visits for her cancer treatment, Olivia has enjoyed having a positive reason to go.
She said: “I’m hopefully in next month for my two-year scan which will hopefully be okay. I’m going through menopause but with HRT I’m good.”
But even though the situation is not ideal, Olivia wouldn not want to have any dispensation to see Ellie at the moment.
“I wouldn’t want to put anybody at risk. We are going to have this baby for the rest of our lives so we can cope,” she said.
“We have less than three months left and we have technology to speak to her whenever we want to, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
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