Birth gives everyone the shakes

Last updated 05:00 22/01/2014
Cameron Burnell/Fairfax NZ

Baby Miles Gilpin was born by caesarean section at the exact time of the Monday earthquake.

Baby born during earthquake
ROCK AND ROLL ARRIVAL: Parents Ben Gilpin and Toni Midwinter with daughter Tammy, 1, and their newborn son Miles, who was born at the very moment Monday’s magnitude 6.2 quake struck Wellington.

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Kapiti couple Toni Midwinter and Ben Gilpin had chosen to keep their second baby's gender a surprise, but little did they know there was a bigger shock in store.

Newborn Miles Gilpin entered the world at the very moment Wellington was struck by Monday's magnitute 6.2 earthquake, the same time Dr Nicola Boyd had her hands on the baby.

The caesarean was right on schedule - the incision had been made in her abdomen and the Wellington Hospital obstetric registrar was just reaching in to take hold of the baby's head as the clock said 3.52pm.

"That's when the building started shaking," inhouse midwife Suzie Edmonds said.

It began with a rumble, then there was a metallic clatter of surgical instruments.

The expectant dad was the first to realise what was happening.

"It got stronger and stronger, a little bit of panic set in and we were trying to keep cool, trying not to think of terrible things at that stage."

Midwinter, shielded from the view of the surgery from behind a curtain, looked to the faces around her for reassurance.

She had her husband at one shoulder and an anaesthetist at the other as the shaking stopped and she heard her baby's first cry.

"They were all so cool, calm, and collected, it was great - they pulled him out while it was still shaking," Midwinter said.

"It was just like ‘keep calm, and carry on,' " Edmonds said.

"The surgeon just carried on as if nothing had happened."

Midwinter, who gave birth to daughter Tammy a year ago, said her 8.5lb (3.85kg) son took the cake for the most dramatic entry into the world.

"It's scary enough having a baby without the ground shaking."

The family's midwife, Lynley Davidson, who was also present, said giving birth was by nature a stressful experience but she had never been party to such a shaky delivery before.

"The couple were in a very vulnerable position when it struck and they are to be commended they came through it so well."

Miles' proud dad looked forward to telling the story of his birth to him once he was old enough to understand.

And in case anyone ever refused to believe him, the time recorded on his birth certificate matched the GeoNet earthquake report to the minute.

"It will definitely be a 21st story," Gilpin said.

"He'll never forget the date or the actual time."

But little Miles may yet get another permanent reminder of his eventful birthday.

His mother said: "We've had a couple of suggestions like ‘Rocky' or ‘Richter' for middle names."

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- The Dominion Post

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