By Ellie Jay of RNZ
A new mum is in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) limbo at Wellington Hospital after giving birth to a baby boy at just 26 weeks.
New Zealander Ferne Grady, who now lives in Perth, was visiting family in Palmerston North in July when the transtasman bubble closed the day before her return flight.
Her husband Declan is originally from Ireland but a permanent resident of Australia. He is desperate to meet his new son but he cannot secure an MIQ spot and Ferne can't fly back to Perth because baby Mikey is in Wellington's neonatal unit.
Declan is now trying for an emergency MIQ allocation but he told RNZ's First Up show he was at his wits' end after his wife went into premature labour late last week.
"The baby is doing good, obviously getting a massive amount of care," Declan said.
"He's in the NICU in Wellington now and they're very happy with his progress.
"Just for Ferne, and for both of us, but for Ferne mainly it's a huge stress. And trying to cope after the big operation she just had, she's not allowed to lift anything or drive or do anything like that."
He said she was having trouble with basic things such as getting groceries and she felt as though she should be with Mikey as much as possible so was not getting enough rest.
"She has family but they're not in Wellington, they're in the Palmerston North and Wanganui area. On the day of the birth and the following day her mother and sister were there but since then, it's pretty much just been herself, her brother has come down to visit once and her father has come down as well.
"They can't come in to see the baby due to the Covid-19 restrictions and, because I'm not there, we had to nominate her mother as the second caregiver but she's got work commitments as well and she can't be there 24/7 either so she's getting down as often as she can, but she has stuff she needs to do too you know."
Declan is now applying for an emergency MIQ allocation to be able to come over and look after his wife and newborn son.
"I joined the Grounded Kiwis Facebook page and I've found a lot of help and a lot of people that are in the same and if not worse, situations as myself."
Declan said he tried to get a room in the most recent MIQ room release.
"I've got up ... at 4.30am to log on to see if I could get into one of those rooms that they allocate, but no luck. I was like 22,000 in the queue so there was no hope there."
He said his wife was now applying for a room in the emergency allocation after gathering documents from the hospital in Wellington, the couple's obstetrician in Perth and letters from Ferne and himself to support their case. He does not know when he might find out if his application has been successful.
"It has been horrible," he said, "obviously Skype and video calls help a lot, they make it somewhat bearable, but obviously it's nowhere near what you want to do.
"It's our first child, we conceived the child through IVF as well, so it has been a long two-and-a-half years to get to where we are now and just to think I wasn't there for the birth of my son it's a tough little one to be sitting here whilst she's sitting so far away with the little fella."