Dianthe born in Christchurch earthquake

By Jarrod Booker

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Photo / Alan Gibson.
Photo / Alan Gibson.

Sleeping peacefully in her mother's arms, little Dianthe Rose Barnard has no idea she was born in a natural disaster.

And at the time of her birth, when the 7.1 magnitude earthquake was hitting Christchurch last Saturday morning, her mother was not sure what was going on either.

Maruschke Barnard had her mind fully occupied at Christchurch Women's Hospital when the quake struck, causing the lights to briefly go out and splashing water from a birthing pool around the room.

"I never even realised there was an earthquake. I just knew my bed was swaying from side to side," Mrs Barnard told the Weekend Herald.

"I was really, really tired. Afterwards I asked them what was happening. They told me it was a major earthquake, and I was like 'oh, okay'. Afterwards it struck me, and the shock came."

Her husband, Evert Barnard, at his wife's bedside through the difficult birth, said the baby had just began to crown when the lights went off.

A doctor was urging Mrs Barnard to stay calm and breathe.

"I just grabbed Maruschke and I was crying and praying that nothing happened," Mr Barnard said.

"For a few seconds, we were wondering what was going on. And then everyone realised it [was] quite a big earthquake because the whole room and everything was moving. The birth pool was about halfway full, and the water [was] just splashing against the roof and all over the floor."

Everyone in the room was "really stressed".

"When the lights went off, everyone just freaked out," Mr Barnard said.

"And then when the back-up lights came on, everyone was around Maruschke just trying to get baby out."

The quake struck at 4.35am. Dianthe, weighing 2.23kg, arrived into the world at 4.41am. She cried for the first time as the first aftershock was hitting. "And I just freaked out again," Mr Barnard said.

Given time to reflect on what happened, Mrs Barnard sees her earthquake arrival as "a real miracle".

The couple, originally from South Africa, will keep a scrapbook of events from the day for their daughter. A video camera capturing the birth was turned off because of a low battery as the quake struck.

The couple were anxious to get home from hospital on Saturday as the aftershocks continued, including a sizeable one just as they were going down the stairs.

- NZ Herald

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