Northsound 1 breakfast show presenter Yazz is experiencing the joys and challenges of motherhood after “giving birth” to a baby boy who cries during Corrie and keeps her up all night.
Little Barry feeds, cries and winds like a real baby – but he is actually a simulator designed to help educate teenagers about the responsibilities of parenthood and encourage them to make informed decisions about becoming parents.
The doting new mum has been caring for baby Barry all week after remarking to her colleague Greigsy that “it can’t be that hard” to look after his own 7-month-old son, Sebastian.
The pair were then contacted by NHS Grampian, who offered Yazz the chance to experience life as the mother of a young baby.
Comedian Jason Manford visited Northsound 1 ahead of a show in Aberdeen this year and named the baby Barry, who arrived on Monday.
Barry is fitted with microchips which correspond to a wrist band and tag that Yazz has been wearing all week, recording how quickly she has tended to his needs, changed, fed and winded him.
Yazz has had to take him everywhere, including a trip to the supermarket, and he has proved to be a demanding young man, interrupting his mum’s TV viewing and disturbing her while she was trying to wash her hair.
“This all came about after I had a go at Greigsy for going on about looking after his wee one, saying I could do it no problem – I mean, how hard can it be?
“Of course I am now eating my words. I am absolutely shattered after just three days of looking after baby Barry and I have newfound respect for all parents who manage to do this all the time.
“He cries all the time and I was up six times during the night because he just wouldn’t settle. I tried to explain that Mummy needs all the sleep she can get as she’s up for work at 4.30am, but he was having none of it.
“Then I had to come out of the shower with soap in my hair because he was screaming so much! We tried to sit down and have some nice mum and son time watching the X Factor, but I had to keep pausing the TV to feed and change him. I thought about taking his batteries out but decided that was cheating.”
However, in spite of being knackered, Yazz has found herself becoming attached to young Barry.
“I miss him when he goes back – although I’ll be relieved to get a whole night’s sleep and be able to watch telly without being interrupted.
“I’d like to thank the team at NHS Grampian for their encouragement, my friends for thinking I had actually had a baby and my neighbours for being so tolerant. I also take my hat off to real parents who do this day in, day out!”
Barry is part of the Aberdeen Baby Think It Over programme, which operates in a number of city schools, as well as with small groups of young people in the local community and on a one-to-one basis.
Greigsy said: “It’s been an experience having young Barry in the studio with us but I think Yazz has made an excellent mum and has been very caring, attending to her son’s needs. He might cry a lot but she’ll miss him when she has to hand him back.
“Yazz now understands how tough it can be with a newborn, although the rewards more than outweigh the sleepless nights.”
Yazz and Greigsy’s boss, Northsound 1 programme director Gary Muircroft, added: “Yazz has coped very well with the challenge and we’ve all become used to seeing her carrying baby Barry around in his wee car seat with his sleepsuit and blue blanket.
“The response from the public has been brilliant, with listeners phoning in with tips on how to settle him and feed him, and he’s even been mistaken for a real baby, which is testament to Yazz’s skills as a mummy!”
Joanne Adamson, a NHS Grampian Public Health Co-ordinator for Aberdeen City Community Health Partnership (CHP), also praised Yazz’s parenting skills.
“The programme aims to use real life baby simulators alongside an educational programme which highlights issues around early parenting, to give a practical and realistic experience. It also encourages discussion around parenting and the lifestyle changes that need to be made when a new baby arrives, as Yazz has discovered,” she said.
“The costs of having a baby are discussed as well as health issues and the role of relevant health professionals and the support they provide.
“Yazz has done a great job taking care of Barry and it has given her a real insight into life as a full-time mum.”
Follow Yazz’s audio and video diary at http://www.northsound1.com