Sally Chappell held her newborn son every day before she died.

At the age of 40, she was a first time mum to little Charlie. His arrival three weeks ago was dramatic - the baby boy was delivered at 34 weeks by emergency caesarean after his mum struck her head and fell on the steps of her Takapuna home.

The web designer and graphic artist suffered serious head injuries in the fall, but doctors told her family she should make a full recovery, albeit slowly. Twelve days ago a massive brain bleed ended those hopes.

Just hours after cradling her son in her arms, she died after family made the heartbreaking decision to switch off life support.


Ms Chappell's mother, Joyce Chappell, spoke to the New Zealand Herald about the precious moments shared between her daughter and grandson.

"She did see him every day. First she was holding him so limply. They just had to put him on her chest, she couldn't sit up and cuddle him. We needed to get that bonding going.

"But on that last day, she actually asked for the first time to go and see him, because she was pretty muddled [before]. And we thought 'oh this is such a good sign'. On that last day, she just held him, as any new mother would, in her arms.

"She really embraced him that last day. She spoke to him - she was just saying 'hello, Charlie, hello Charlie' - and she kept kissing him."

The family had been expecting a long rehabilitation for Ms Chappell, but a happy ending.
"She would've had to go into rehabilitation for two or three months, but she could have taken the baby with her. But then she had this massive [brain] bleed."

Charlie, who was born weighing 2.6 kilograms and spent only a day on a breathing tube, was doing well, Mrs Chappell said.

He will be released from Auckland Hospital on Tuesday, and will be raised by Mrs Chappell, with involvement from his father.

As well as photos and a video of his mum's funeral, which took place on the North Shore on Thursday, Charlie will be given a memory box being created by Mrs Chappell.
"What's in the box will speak a thousand words about her."

As well as her favourite dresses, the box will include her daughter's childhood drawings and writings, Mrs Chappell said.

"She was exceptionally talented. She had a way with words and her drawings were so funny. She'd do caricatures. She always saw the funny side of things and she was a very kind, loving person.

"She always saw the good side of people."