BY JACKIE KEOGH
THE homecoming of baby Sienna Cheung on Monday was as sweet as her delivery on Christmas Day was dramatic.
Rachel Harte (25), who is originally from Lough Hyne Road, Skibbereen, but is now living in Rosscarbery with her partner, Matthew Cheung (28), delivered her beautiful baby girl at 11.25am on Christmas morning while on route to Cork University Hospital.
Rachel told The Southern Star that she was actually due on Sunday, December 21st, but went into hospital early on the morning of Tuesday, December 23rd with what she thought were contractions. She stayed overnight in hospital, but was released at noon on Christmas Eve and given an appointment to be induced on Tuesday, December 30th.
At around 11.30pm on Christmas Eve, Rachel said she started getting pains again, but because they were not regular she didn’t believe she was in labour. She thought it was just cramps.
However, on Christmas morning – while lying on the bathroom floor trying to get relief from the pain – she alerted her partner and he phoned his father, Paul, who lives nearby, and had been on standby for weeks. Paul came around quickly with his Jaguar – the black X-type with beige leather seats – at the ready.
As they were approaching Clonakilty, Rachel said her waters broke and she could feel the head, so Paul drove to Clonakilty Community Hospital where a doctor told Rachel she’d have plenty of time to get to Cork.
At that stage, Matthew rang the emergency services and advised them that the baby was going to be born before they reached the hospital and that they needed an ambulance to be sent out immediately.
As they were driving into Bandon, shortly before 11am, they saw an ambulance at the side of the road and pulled in because they assumed it was the ambulance they had called for. It wasn’t. The paramedics were dealing with another patient. Both, happily, had successful outcomes.
Rachel said two female paramedics, Denise and Mags, as well as a female guard, became her birthing partners and that Matthew was also present for the birth of baby Sienna, who weighed 7.5lbs.
Rachel said: ‘He was overwhelmed. But Matthew was born to be a father. It was a happy day for us both.’
Like most expectant mothers, Rachel said: ‘You have this whole birthing plan in your head. I wanted mine to be as natural as possible and, as it turned out, it was.
‘I’d seen the movies and done the classes but nothing prepares you for how it is going to be. It is quite surreal. When I held Sienna for the first time it was the most wonderful feeling. It really was just wonderful.’
The last few days have been something of a rollercoaster for the Harte and Cheung families. Speaking from her home in Rosscarbery, Rachel admits that she barely knows what day it is. But in the next day or two she said she wants to make contact with Denise and Mags, as well as the guard who assisted her, to thank them for being absolutely phenomenal on the day.
Rachel also said: ‘Matthew and I are also most grateful to Paul who has been on constant standby over the last couple of weeks, and didn’t bat an eyelid when his car was turned into a maternity unit.’
She also noted her appreciation of the fact that that other roadside patient was taken to hospital by the ambulance that had been meant for her, which meant that Denise and Mags could stay with her until she was safely tucked up in her hospital bed.
‘It was a nice touch,’ said Rachel, who is delighted with the love and support they, as a family, have been receiving ever since they started their emergency dash to the hospital on Christmas morning.