THERE was excitement, drama and tears of joy in Omagh on Saturday, when a local woman gave birth to a beautiful baby girl… on the doorstep of her home!
It was an astonishing moment that mum, Tara Austin, says ‘she will never forget’, not least because it was her kind-hearted neighbours who aided the 28-year-old with her unexpected, hour-long, labour.
Helpfully, neighbours Oonagh and Barry Andrews both work in the medical field; Oonagh is a nurse and Barry is a member of the Rapid Response team in Omagh – and highly co-incidentally, Barry had also trained as a midwife more than 20 years ago in his native home of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Recalling the theatrics of the day, Tara said she is forever indebted to her neighbours, who calmed her down, correctly prepared her for the birth, and who immediately called the ambulance to ensure the safe delivery. Little Parker was born in the ambulance on the foot of Tara’s doorstep at 5.59pm on Saturday, weighing a healthy (and rather large!) 9 pounds and 4.5 ounces.
“Parker’s birth was very unexpected,” Tara, daughter of Peter and Dolores Austin, said.
“I had been having pains, but I didn’t realise at the time that I was in labour.
“My mum and my partner, Martin, had been trying to get me into the car to take me to the hospital in case the baby was coming. When I got to the door of my house, my waters broke!
“Mum rushed across to my neighbours, Oonagh and Barry for help, as she is a nurse and he is a trained midwife.
“They immediately called the ambulance, and tended to me while we waited for it to arrive.
“The birth was very, very quick,” Tara added. “Within the space of an hour, the baby arrived, and there were tears of joy all-round.
Tara says that Parker is adored by daddy Martin Leadley, and her seven-year-old twin sons, Reagan and Riley – and added that Martin’s son, Conor, is very excited to meet Parker, too.
“It is so surreal that she is here,” Tara, who is a native of Killyclogher, laughed. “She is so quiet and well-behaved, and everyone says she looks like me! She has big blue eyes and dark hair.
“But if it wasn’t for Oonagh and Barry I don’t think I could have coped during the birth. They came in amidst all the drama and excitement, calmed everything down, and took over. They were just brilliant.”
And for Barry, helping to deliver Parker was nothing short of ‘a dream come true’.
“It was a privilege to have been there,” he described. “I hadn’t practised midwifery in more than 20 years, but it all came back to me when I saw Tara. At no point did I feel stress or panic, and I instinctively was able to tell Tara what to do, how to breathe and when to push.
“I followed the correct professional procedures during the delivery, alongside the incredible ambulance paramedics, and when the baby was born, the emotions kicked in. It’s difficult to comprehend how amazing the gift of life truly is.
“What makes the moment even more special is that Parker has become the first baby I’ve delivered in Northern Ireland.
“In myself, Parker will have a guardian angel for life.”