An entrepreneur who feared her partner would miss their baby’s birth as he was abroad when she went into labour early was delighted when he made it in the nick of time – only for her to be unconscious and to miss it.
Luana Ribeira, 40, already had two children when she and gardener Alex Meyer, 36 – a family friend – fell in love four years ago after she split-up with her husband and she again became broody.
But when Alex was called back to his previous home in Portugal to tend to difficulties with a plot of land they own, Covid restrictions left her fretting that he would not be back by her side in Anglesey, North Wales, in time for their baby boy’s birth.
Luana, who runs her own company, Dauntless PR, said: “I had Braxton Hicks, which are like fake contractions, from six months and I just knew the baby wasn’t going to wait around for the due date.
“So, when Alex was called away to Portugal in May 2021, to tend to the land we own out there I was terrified he’d miss the birth.
“Ironically, he got back three days before I went into proper labour in June at 37 weeks, while doctors had to put me under for the delivery – so I missed seeing Celyn being born!”
As well as Celyn, now six weeks, Luana has two daughters, Seren, 12, and Ellie, 10, from her previous relationship and had not been planning to have more children until she and Alex fell in love.
She said “Alex was a family friend and after I split with my husband, I went to stay with him,
“By September 2017 we were an item.”
She added: “I needed solitude after my marriage broke down and actually lived in a field in Portugal with him for three months. We had no running water or power. I learnt a lot, but three months was long enough, and I was ready to go back to an apartment in Portugal living with my girls.”
After relocating back to Anglesey in 2019, Luana soon started wanting another baby with Alex.
She said: “I was delighted when I found out I was pregnant in 2020.”
She added: “Celyn is my third child and Alex’s second, so we felt really confident about being parents again.”
But as Luana’s baby bump grew bigger, she was plagued by Braxton Hicks and became convinced her baby was coming early.
After an emergency caesarean a week early with her first child and a traumatic natural birth with her second when she was two weeks overdue, Luana elected for a caesarean for her third birth.
So, when Alex was called back by Portuguese officials at the beginning of June when she was 36 weeks pregnant to perform essential maintenance work on their land to reduce the risk of forest fires spreading, she was really worried he would miss their son’s birth.
“The land is right next to a forest, so it’s important to make sure it isn’t a fire risk,” she said.
“Alex had to clear all the dried vegetation. He didn’t want to go, but he had to.”
She added: “With all the Covid travel restrictions we became so concerned that he would miss the birth, as I was in the third trimester, but he had no choice but to go.”
When Portugal was moved to the amber list in June 2021, Alex faced a race against time to get back for his son’s delivery.
“I was so nervous I’d go into labour as I was 36 weeks,” Luana said.
She added: “When Portugal was changed to amber it was nerve racking. If Alex had to quarantine for two weeks, he would miss the birth. He had to get a flight home as quickly as possible.
“As all the rules started to change, it was really worrying, because we couldn’t predict whether or not he would make it.”
Luckily, Alex’s flight touched down just in time for him to avoid quarantine and three days later, on June 9, Luana went into labour at her pregnancy check-up.
“I was getting ready for a date night with Alex, so I went to the hairdresser before the midwife appointment. I kept joking that if I went into labour at least I would look good,” she laughed.
“At the appointment I told the midwife that I felt like I would go into labour that day, but we both laughed it off and thought it would be a while yet.
“Then, as soon as I closed the door on my way out, my waters broke.”
So, 37 weeks pregnant, she was rushed to Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital in nearby Bangor.
“At first, I wasn’t sure if my waters had broken,” she said.
“But as soon as I got to hospital, they confirmed I had gone into labour and I elected to have a caesarean.”
Portugal was moved to the Amber list June 3 due to the mutation of the Delta variant.
Portugal remains on the Amber list but fully vaccinated travellers no longer have to isolate on their return.
She added: “I mentioned that my previous spinal block had made me feel really unwell, so they changed the mixture to try and ease my nausea.”
Unfortunately, Luana’s spinal block stopped working during her caesarean, leaving her in agonising pain and forcing doctors to give her general anaesthetic, causing her to miss Celyn’s birth on June 10.
“It was so painful,” she said. “I’ve had a caesarean before and I knew I would feel tugging and pulling, but the deeper they went the more it hurt. I was in agony.”
She added: “I didn’t want the general anaesthetic, as I was scared it would affect the baby. But after five minutes, Alex could see how bad it was and we agreed for me to be knocked out.”
So, after spending weeks worrying about Alex missing their baby’s birth, instead she missed everything while he waited in another room for the operation to be over.
“I was under general anaesthetic for half an hour,” she said.
A spinal block is an anaesthetic injected near the spinal cord, also known as an epidural
The pain relief numbs pain from large areas of the body by blocking pain signals
It's commonly used in childbirth
She added: “Alex was allowed in the room to hold our son once the operation was over. He held him first and everything!
“But it was great that they got that special time together.
“I came round with a baby on my boob 15 minutes later, it was so surreal. I felt like I had been out forever.”
She added: “I was just so happy that we were all ok, but I couldn’t believe I’d missed the birth.”
Now mother and son are doing incredibly well and Luana even went back to work the day after having him – finding the perfect balance between being a mum and working life.
“I always said I would never have such a big age gap between my children,” she said.
She added: “But I love it. I feel so much calmer now and life is less stressful.
“I went back to work the day after giving birth, as I work from home and it’s much easier to balance everything.
“Celyn is now six weeks old and amazing. The girls love him and keep asking how long it will be until they can babysit for him.
“It’s really magical. I can’t believe I ended up missing the birth, but I’m just glad we’re all happy and healthy.”