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Tiny gifts of life; CHRISTMAS BABIES ++.

Byline: By Warren Manger and Michael Corley

THERE was joy after heartbreak for one family on Christmas Day when a bonnie baby girl was delivered almost a year after her parents suffered a miscarriage.

Ruth Driver and her partner Stuart Walton were devastated when they lost a child in October 2007, just two weeks before it was due.

So when Merryn Rose Walton came into the world on one of the most important days in the Christian calendar, no-one batted an eyelid when they called her a "miracle."

Merryn was one of 16 very special seasonable babies born across Coventry and Warwickshire - giving their families the best possible Christmas Day present.

While thousands of us tucked into turkeys and prepared for the Queen's speech, the adorable infant was drawing her first breath at Nuneaton's George Eliot Hospital.

She weighed a bouncing 7lbs 9oz when she was born at 2.46pm - three weeks early.

Her parents named her after St Merryn, a quaint fishing village in north Cornwall, where they've spent several romantic holidays.

Mum Ruth, aged 35, was beaming when The Telegraph caught up with her on Boxing Day.

While cradling her precious infant, the self-employed dog groomer, who lives in Baddesley Ensor, near Atherstone, said: "We had a baby last October who died just two weeks before it was due."

"All the staff here know about it and have been very good to us.

"I'd like to thank them for all the support they've given us, and for this wonderful little Christmas present.

"I've not slept for about two days. I'm very tired but overjoyed."

Loving dad Stuart was keen to go home to show-off his pride and joy to relatives.

The 32-year-old accountant said: "We're on cloud nine. It's been a long wait, but this is the best present ever.

"And now we're desperate to go home and celebrate with the rest of the family."

Twelve seasonal babies were born at Coventry's University Hospital, with many of them arriving early in time to join in the festivities.

Zoe Jennings and Neil Shaw, of Woodway Lane, Woodway Park, Coventry, celebrated the birth of their fourth child Finley, who was due to be born on Boxing Day.

"It was a bit of a shock when my waters broke on Christmas Eve because my other children were quite a long way overdue," said Zoe, aged 28.

"He obviously didn't want to miss Santa Claus."

Finley, who was born at 4.49pm and weighted 7lbs and 3oz, was the family's dream Christmas present.

Veena Modessa, aged 29, was due to spend a family Christmas at her mum's but she was forced to change her plans after her waters broke late on Christmas Eve.

Her son - temporarily called Chetan Modessa Junior after his dad until the couple settle on a name - arrived by emergency caesarean at 10.55am on Christmas morning. He weighed 6lbs and 14 oz.

Veena said her presents were still waiting for her to open at her mum's house.

Andrea Hargreaves, of Blythe Close, Cawston near Rugby, was looking forward to taking baby Jessica home to spend the rest of the festive season with husband Stephen and her two and a half year-old son Jake.

Jessica, who weighed 6lbs and 13oz, was not due until for more than three weeks but Andrea was induced early on Christmas Eve.

"I didn't quite expect it to drag on into Christmas Day once I had been induced, Jessica must have been very determined to be a Christmas baby," said Andrea.

Sheridan Aspley spent much of Christmas Day in labour before giving birth to Holly Louise Ashby, who weighed 7lb and 6oz.

The 17 year-old, from the Bell Green area, spent 33 hours in labour before festively-named Holly made her grand entrance at 3.15pm.

"I would have rather been at home for Christmas but it hasn't been too bad," she said.

"My work colleagues gave presents for me and the baby so I have been opening them in here, and I'm hoping to go home later today."

The first Christmas Day baby to arrive at University Hospital this year was Erin Welsh at 23 minutes past midnight.

Erin, who weighed 6lbs and 13oz, is the daughter of Richard Welsh and Anna O'Shea, of Chapelfields, Coventry.

Natalie Thawley also celebrated the birth of Kai Brinley.

Warwick Hospital welcomed just three new faces this year - a quarter of the bumper crop of 12 babies born last Christmas.

Zaneta and Lukas Zabrocka celebrated the birth of their first daughter Vanessa, who weighed just over 5lbs, at 7.45pm.

The couple, who live in St Peters Way, Stratford, had to put their Christmas dinner on holdwhen 25 year-old Zaneta went into labour at about noon.

"She wasn't due until the 12th of January so it was a big surprise - but a nice one," said Zaneta.

CAPTION(S):

JB261208BABY-3; Merryn Rose Walton (main picture and above) with proud parents Ruth Driver and Stuart Walton. JB261208BABY-4; Holly Louise Ashby with mum Sheridan Aspley. MR261208BABY-5; Mum Andrea Hargreaves and daughter Jessica. JB261208BABY-6; Baby Vanessa with mum Zaneta Zabrocka. MR261208BABY-7; Chetan Modessa Jnr and mum Veena. MR261208BABY-4; Finley Shaw with mum Zoe Jennings. MR261208BABY-3; Kamal Kanji is still considering a name for her newborn. MR261208BABY-1
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Dec 27, 2008
Words:874
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