A premature baby born very quickly in a remote rural location – it could have all gone so wrong.
But it didn’t.
Adept emergency services and skilled health professionals came to the party on the night of 7 February, when little Brody Graham decided to enter the world at just 29 weeks gestation, in his parents’ hometown of Whenuakite in the Coromandel.
Mum Jamie-Lee was experiencing some pain at 8.30pm on 6 February, and rang relief midwife Jocelyn Yates at 10pm, who came from Cook’s Beach to check her.
The pain had stayed at a steady level and so didn’t seem to be labour pain. Jamie-Lee was advised to take some Panadol and go to bed.
But at 1am, the pain had intensified and Jamie-Lee rang her midwife back to say the baby was on its way.
Jocelyn alerted Waikato Hospital and the air ambulance, and Jamie-Lee and her partner Dion Sheppard, went by ambulance to Whenuakite School across to the road where the helicopter was waiting for them.
“As I was getting in the ambulance, my waters broke, and when we arrived and I was getting out of the ambulance, I felt his head come out,” tells Jamie-Lee.
“I was still fully clothed, and as the midwife took my pants off, Brody came out. Just like that.”
Just one hour and 41 minutes after her second phone call to the midwife, Brody Sheppard was born at 2.41am weighing just 1596g on the Whenuakite School field.
It was hearing Brody’s cry that relieved Jamie-Lee the most though as he is her second son born prematurely. Cody, who was born at 24 weeks gestation five years ago, made it to six months old before tragically passing away at Middlemore Hospital.
“When I heard him cry, I was so happy. I felt so relieved,” said Jamie-Lee.
Brody was initially attended to by midwife Yates, and by the paramedic team from the Whitianga helicopter.
Next on the scene at Whenuakite School was Waikato District Health Board neonatologist Dr Phil Weston, who was holidaying in Cook’s Beach.
Dr Weston helped to stabilise Brody in the road ambulance, which then took the newborn and his parents to Whitianga, where the Waikato Hospital air ambulance equipped with nurses and an incubator arrived to fly him to Waikato Hospital.
“Ideally premature babies such as Brody are born in tertiary hospitals where all of the required equipment and expertise is immediately on hand,” said Dr Weston.
“However, there are occasional circumstances where this event occurs in an unpredicted way, and it was wonderful in Brody’s case, considering the isolation and the hour, to observe how locally available clinical personnel were able to mobilise and create a very good situation for him and his mother.”
With all the medical personnel and equipment required for a safe journey, there was no room for mum and dad who went by road to Waikato from Whitianga in the wee hours of 7 February to be with their boy.
And Brody hasn’t missed a beat since.
“He’s doing really well,” said Jamie-Lee. “He’s doing everything he’s supposed to.”
Jamie-Lee, Dion and their 15-month-old daughter Cassie-Lee have a long road ahead of them with Brody, juggling work and Cassie-Lee’s care in Whenuakite for Dion and Jamie-Lee’s bedside vigil at Waikato Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
But they know they are lucky to have Brody here and safe.
“That’s all that matters,” says his mum.
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