Real Life

My Kiwi flood baby

Trapped in her house with floodwaters rising around her, pregnant Kiwi mum Angela Lee had more reason than most to panic. She had just gone into early labour but couldn’t get to the hospital, and was plagued by thoughts of which of her three children she would save if an inland tsunami swept through their home in Goodna, Brisbane.

The 28-year-old and her family were trapped in their home by the devastating floodwaters that had blocked the roads. Bremer River had burst its banks and a deadly wall of water was threatening to come racing towards her helpless family.

Anglea was stunned when she went into labour almost three weeks early, and although residents of Goodna had been told to evacuate urgently, it was clear there was no hope of escape.

“There was only one road in and one road out, and both led to the floods,” Angela tells the Weekly.

The only option, which others in labour opted for, was to be airlifted to hospital. But Angela bravely decided to stay and deliver her baby at home, if necessary.

“We decided that if she was going to come, it would be in the house in the middle of the floods,” says Angela, who was still only in the early stages of labour.

Fortunately, a neighbour had bravely volunteered to stay behind to help.

“We had everything organised for a homebirth,” Angela explains.”I was panicking, I thought we were going to lose everything – we had nowhere to go. And everyone was asking, ‘If you had to save your kids, which one would you choose?’

“A lot of mothers lost their children, and they couldn’t figure out what to do because their little ones couldn’t swim.”

Angela’s young son Lukus is petrified of water, while her daughters Tearna (7) and Nakita (11) aren’t strong swimmers.

During that long night, Angela, her husband Chris Willis and the kids huddled upstairs, along with a single mum and her two children, and another couple, as water flooded their ground floor.

The waters reached their peak that night and the following day had subsided enough for Angela to get through the flood-ravaged streets to Ipswich Hospital to give birth.

But she was devastated when her labour pains faded away just as she arrived, and she was sent home as the hospital was too full.

“I think the pain stopped because of the stress, but as soon as we walked outside, it started again. They said I could only come back when the pains were 10 minutes apart.

“I went home and kept getting pains, but they were very irregular.”

By the next night, Angela was in full labour and returned to hospital. In less than an hour she delivered her baby girl, named Amaya, a Japanese name that aptly means “night rain”.

Angela was only in hospital for six hours before she had to leave again as the hospital was so full. “I couldn’t even go to the maternity ward for a rest, and there were many ladies going into labour at the same time. Four babies were born at once!

“We can’t visit anyone because we don’t want Amaya to get infections. The hospital told us to keep her at home –  they think mosquitoes are carrying Ross River Fever.

“oy kids’ clothes were on the ground floor – we had to throw them out and rip up the carpets. “The poor kids – it’s been school holidays but they haven’t been able to go outside because it’s been raining for six weeks. our house had been flooded three times before the main event hit.”

Angela, who grew up in Christchurch but has since married an Australian, is now considering relocating to New Zealand.

“I have friends who have lost everything because the water went over the roofs of their houses. “our house has been cleaned up, but we’re considering selling because we always get flooded. I want to live on a hill because at least I know it’s safe.”

Although going into labour during the disaster was a terrifying experience, now that Amaya is out of harm’s way, Angela believes the dramatic birth was fated.

“Ironically we got married during the dust storms in 2009, so we reckon natural disasters seem to like us.”I think Amaya’s birth was meant to be, and we count ourselves very lucky. It could have been a lot worse.”

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