A Queensland mum has told how a family holiday to NSW turned into a “mad dash” to hospital with her baby girl Opal being born nine weeks early in the back of an ambulance.
Born in an ambulance bay at Wagga Base Hospital, baby Opal Lee Lane-King was transferred to Mater Mothers’ Hospital in Brisbane for specialist care soon after her arrival.
More than 1300 km from their Darra home in southwest Brisbane, Maryjane King, who was 31 weeks pregnant, was visiting her grandmother in Junee with her family when she felt what she thought were Braxton Hicks contractions during the middle of the night.
Maryjane, 29, said her mother called an ambulance around 1am on September 27, with two Junee paramedics, Jimmy Connors and colleague Tim Morgan, confirming she was in labour shortly after arriving.
It was less than one hour later at 1.55am that Opal made her dramatic entrance, said Maryjane.
“Opal has quite an epic birth story and it was the first birth for the paramedics who we only knew as Jimmy and Timmy,” she said.
“Tim was reversing the ambulance into ambulance bay and Jim caught Opal with the help of dad.”
Maryjane, who has an older son Alexander, said Opal wasn’t due until November 25 and her birth came as a “real surprise” for their family.
Opal weighed 1655 grams and spent more than two weeks at Wagga Base Hospital before being transported to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mater Mothers’ Hospital in Brisbane.
After five weeks at Mater, last Friday the couple’s baby girl went home for the first time, and Maryjane described the moment as “priceless”.
“Opal has been kicking goals and gaining weight, and I have been excited about her meeting our dogs Bear and Roxy,” she said.
Shining the spotlight on World Prematurity Day (17 November), Opal's mum and dad said the medical teams at Mater’s Neonatal Intensive Care provided around-the-clock care for their pint-size bundle of joy and helped save her life.
It has been seven weeks since Opal’s “momentous” arrival and Marjane said she was also grateful for NSW Air Ambulance for flying Opal and herself back to Queensland.
She said NeoRESQ, a Neonatal Retrieval Service specifically designed for the transportation of premature babies, helped transport Opal and herself from Brisbane Airport to Mater Mothers’ Hospital.
No stranger to Mater Mothers’ Hospital’s NICU, Maryjane said her son Alex was born three weeks early nine years ago.
“It’s been a bloody memorable journey since having Opal, and an emotional one too,” Maryjane said.
Mater Mothers’ Hospitals have one of Australia’s largest Neonatal Critical Care Units, providing compassionate and holistic care to sick and premature babies.