Colin and Erchel Farrugia’s dream came true when they found out they were going to be parents after overcoming several struggles. But even after defying all odds, this young couple’s hopes of having a smooth-running birth were shattered over nothing more than a technicality.
A few days before Erchel was set to give birth, the couple’s doctor suggested that they take a swab test to confirm that they’re both negative, thus allowing Colin to accompany his wife during labour.
Two days later, the Farrugias received their results, and Colin was positive for COVID-19.
“Last August I had already tested positive for the virus, and even though I barely had any symptoms, it wasn’t exactly an easy experience,” Colin told Lovin Malta.
“Naturally, I took that as a lesson, and started being more careful after I recovered, especially since my wife was due to give birth. We never went to restaurants, we always wore masks, and I took extra measures when dealing with clients.”
“After doing all that, I had an inkling that my latest test result was a false positive.”
With all this in mind, Colin started contacting the necessary authorities to clarify the results and book a retest in a bid to eventually accompany his wife during labour. However this proved to be far easier in theory.
“I was blatant, I told them I thought it was a false positive. They said it was impossible for it to be a false positive.”
“Shortly after, they called my wife and told her that after she gives birth, the hospital will have to take away the baby for 15 days.”
“Now I know that’s a protective measure, but you have to be careful when you say these things. My wife was already on edge and her emotions were all over the place – and that comment certainly didn’t help,” Colin continued.
After hearing that, Colin took it upon himself to get tested again, and booked a rapid test – four days before Erchel was due to give brith.
He was COVID-19 negative.
“I called the COVID-19 helpline to let them know about the negative result. They told me that the rapid test didn’t count because it was done privately,” Colin said.
“These are the same rapid tests that have just started being given out to the public presently, so I don’t understand why it doesn’t count.“
“At least, I had a government-issued COVID-19 test booked for the day after, even though they told me that it’s impossible for a government-issued test to come out negative.“
Once again, Colin tested negative for the virus.
With this result in hand, Colin started frantically messaging the authorities to rectify this mistake. He even contacted Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci’s team, as well as Health Minister Chris Fearne’s. No one got back to him.
“On Monday, Erchel’s water broke. An ambulance rushed her to hospital. I gave her a phone and a charger so that I could be with her over a video call.”
“She was crying, packing her stuff, calling the labour ward – and they’re telling her that they’ll be taking the baby away for 15 days. When she got to hospital, absolutely no one could go in with her.”
“They gave us hope, but she spent 24 hours giving birth on her own. Can you imagine what it would have felt like if there were complications or if she needed to undergo an emergency caesarean?” he said.
Colin was willing to pay to have his wife give birth in a private hospital, where he hoped he would be allowed in. But time didn’t allow.
“Look, I understand if I can’t spend the entire labour with her, I just wanted to be with her for some time, even fifteen minutes!”
“That was mean to be the most beautiful moment of my life. They took away the most beautiful moment of my life,” Colin said.
Despite these hardships, Erchel gave birth to a healthy baby boy – but Colin still can’t be with them. After countless negative COVID-19 swab tests, Colin is still under quarantine.