Baby's Surprise Birth

A few days ago, on Geoff's Blog, I told you a bit about the size and isolation of some Queensland stations, called ranches in some parts of the world. Well, I was surprised this morning to see the face of a cattle station owner I know on page one of the Townsville Bulletin. Peter Bahr is part owner of Greenvale Station, which is on the Burdekin River north of Charters Towers, is a close friend of my nephew Michael, and I have known Peter for some years.

I often visit the website of the Townsville Bulletin to catch up on home-town news, but this morning's news was a complete surprise and helps to illustrate the problems caused by distance and isolation to many Queensland sheep and cattle stations in times of emergency.

The headline that caught my attention:-

Miracle baby born on cattle property ....and the article.

May 2nd, 2009

PETER Bahr has helped deliver plenty of calves on his Greenvale cattle station but nothing prepared him for the premature arrival of his son Michael more than three months early.

His wife Larisa went into labour 14 weeks before her due date with a pair of volunteer first aiders the only thing between them and a 250km drive to Charters Towers Hospital.

"I was doing the washing when I started getting strong cramps," Mrs Bahr said.

"I'd been on the Internet all day so I thought maybe I was feeling cramps from sitting down for so long. This is my first experience so I didn't realise how strong labour would feel.

I went down to the shed to find my husband and he thought something was very wrong.

He rang triple zero and told me to lie down in bed but the pain was so strong I couldn't unbend so I started walking around.

Twenty minutes later he was born in the bathroom. He was tiny.

I could see his heart beating through his chest and he was just gasping.

My husband found me on the floor just sitting there holding our baby."

While Mr Bahr frantically tried to clear the airway of his choking baby son, who was only taking a wheezing breath twice every minute, volunteer first-aid respondents Lisa Atkinson and Kerry Woods raced to the scene along with police officer Roger Brown.

"I cleared his mouth out with my finger but he kept getting more and more blue," Mr Bahr said.

"Then the first respondents turned up because we don't have a hospital at Greenvale, only volunteers. Once they came with the oxygen bottle his colour got a lot better and he turned pink again."

Meanwhile Townsville Hospital's neonatal retrieval team including Dr Gary Alcock and nurse Janelle Creedy were boarding a chopper.

"I fully expected to arrive at the farm and find Michael had died some time before we got there," Dr Alcock said.

"I expected the place to be in chaos with people crying everywhere but the whole place was calm and mum was lying in bed with Michael on her chest, breathing. The ambulance officers have some first aid training but they're only volunteers so for them to accomplish something like this is a credit.

What I thought was going to be a bad day turned out to be a really pleasant afternoon at work."

At just 36cm long and weighing just a touch over 1kg, Michael was about the size and weight of a one litre bottle of milk.

Two months after dramatically entering the world on March 8, miracle baby Michael Percival Bahr has finally been moved out of neonatal intensive care weighing a healthier 1.7kg.

Ms Creedy said Michael's gradual recovery was wonderful to witness.

"He was born so far away from support ... it's not like he was in an ambulance within 10 minutes," Ms Creedy said.

"But my perspective is, other than a very dramatic entrance to the world, he's had a very smooth, steady course with not many complications, which is nice to see."

Mrs Bahr said she and her husband hoped Michael might study to be a doctor one day.

Little baby Michael Bahr is still in the Townsville General Hospital and he is likely to be there for a month or so yet, but he is doing well and is on three hourly feeds now. Larisa has remained in Townsville, while Peter has been running back and forward to "Greenvale Station" each week... about four hours drive each way.

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