Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Brody sees his home at last

After a premature birth in a paddock two months ago, newborn is finally in his own cot

Dion Sheppard and Jamie-Lee Graham are delighted their baby Brody Sheppard is home. Photo / Christine Cornege
Dion Sheppard and Jamie-Lee Graham are delighted their baby Brody Sheppard is home. Photo / Christine Cornege

Brody Sheppard is doing what any newborn should, even though his due date is not for another three weeks.

At 8 weeks old, Brody went home for the first time yesterday, after he made a dramatic early arrival on a remote school paddock in the middle of the night, almost three months premature.

His mum, Jamie-Lee Graham, and dad, Dion Sheppard, were overjoyed to be taking their newest addition home to Tairua, where he would meet big sister Cassie-Lee.

"We both can't wait to see the reaction from our daughter to see her brother for the first time," Mr Sheppard said. "It'll be great to have my family back together again."

Brody has been in Waikato Hospital's Newborn Intensive Care Unit, where 16-month-old Cassie-Lee was not allowed because of the susceptibility of premature babies to illness.

In the unit Brody has developed into a healthy baby under the watch of neonatologist Dr Phil Weston and Hamilton midwife Jocelyn Yates.

They were part of a 14-strong emergency team to help deliver, resuscitate and stabilise Brody when he was born at Whenuakite on the Coromandel on February 7.

It was a stroke of luck that Dr Weston happened to be holidaying at nearby Cooks Beach and Ms Yates was also there filling in for a rural midwife when Ms Graham went into labour at 1am.

"I rang 111 and said we need an ambulance urgently and we're probably going to need a helicopter as well," Ms Yates said.

She raced over to Ms Graham's home, collecting a student midwife on the way.

The ambulance rushed Ms Graham to the Whenuakite School field where the Whitianga Air Ambulance was waiting.

But rain closed in at 2.40am, keeping the helicopter grounded, and Brody was born in the back of the ambulance into the waiting hands of Ms Yates and a paramedic.

Ms Graham has a condition which prevents her carrying a fetus to full term. The couple lost a very premature son five years ago, making anxiety levels high.

"The main priorities were to stabilise his breathing and keep him warm," Ms Yates said. "He needed some resus[citation] and after some time he was breathing on his own."

About 45 minutes later, Dr Weston turned up after being rung by Waikato Hospital staff.

"It was fantastic to see him, even though Brody was actually really stable it was just so cool to know that somebody with so much experience with newborn babies was on hand," Ms Yates said.

Dr Weston stayed with Brody until he was collected by a neonatal retrieval team in Whitianga three hours later.

Ms Graham and Mr Sheppard, a relief milker, have moved to Tairua to live with Mr Sheppard's parents.

Ms Yates said Brody's family support - his grandmother gave up her job to look after Cassie-Lee so the couple could be at Waikato Hospital - was the reason the baby was thriving.

- NZ Herald

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