Canterbury quake babies thriving

TINA LAW
Last updated 06:24 04/09/2014
Lola Romero
KIRK HARGREAVES / Fairfax NZ

DRAMATIC ARRIVAL: Lola Romero was born on September 4, 2010, during the first Canterbury earthquake.

DIANTHE-ROSE BRAND
QUAKE BIRTH: Dianthe-Rose Barnard likes to tell everyone about her shaky beginning on September 4.

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Four years ago today, 21 women gave birth at Christchurch Women's Hospital when a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit Canterbury. Tina Law catches up with two families to see what life is like now.

Dianthe Rose Barnard is an earthquake baby and proud of it.

The 4-year-old tells everyone about her shaky entry into the world. Last week, she took a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings detailing her birth to pre-school to show everyone.

"My husband keeps telling her she needs to know she is special. He tells her all the time," mother Maruschke Barnard said.

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Dianthe Rose was born three minutes after the 4.35am quake, ending a difficult 17-hour  labour.

"Her head crowned when the quake hit. She gave her first cry during the second big aftershock," Barnard said.

Dianthe Rose has grown into a confident wee girl, who "loves dancing and anything musical"

She knows words from five languages, including English, Afrikaans, Maori, Spanish and French.

"I think the earthquake must have shaken her brain. She is so smart. She picks up everything and speaks real big words."

Life has changed a lot for Barnard and her family since that day four years ago. They have left Christchurch to live in Darfield and she and her husband, Evert, have had another daughter. Alaina was born just 13 months after Dianthe Rose.

The sisters look so alike, they are often mistaken as twins.

Barnard said she could not believe four years has passed since that first quake. She still remembers it vividly and the memories always come to the forefront again on Dianthe Rose's birthday.

"It's still so fresh in my head. I don't think I'll ever be able to recover from it."

They only stayed in the hospital for two hours on September 4. Evert Barnard did not feel safe and wanted his girls out of there.

Not only did the first-time parents have to deal with the aftershocks, Dianthe Rose suffered from colic and woke every three hours. Like most parents, they coped and then the February quake hit.

"That was the worst one. She was in lying in her crib. I threw myself over her and everything fell around her."

Days later, Barnard was woken up early one morning by her parents and told to evacuate their home because there were fears the cliff was going to collapse.

She had only enough time to grab Dianthe Rose, who was just five months old, and run out of the house, wearing just her dressing gown and slippers.

Four years ago today, Maria Romero, 37, was in a birthing pool at Christchurch Women's Hospital when everything started moving and the room went dark.

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At first, she thought it was a hurricane but quickly figured out it was an earthquake.

About three hours later she gave birth to her second child, Lola.

"She was 10 days late. She was waiting for the earthquake."

Romero is hoping for less drama in March when she will return to Christchurch Women's Hospital to give birth to her third child.

After the quake and armed with a new philosophy, Romero decided she was not going to wait for her partner of more than 10 years, Nick Blackburn, to propose to her, so she asked him to marry her.

The pair got married in Rarotonga last year surrounded by close friends and Lola and Lucas, her first child, who is now 5.

"I don't say: 'I wish I could do that', I just do it. That is the way I have changed."

Romero said Lola would always be remembered as a quake baby but sometimes people forget just which day she was born.

"Some people say happy birthday to her on February 22. They get blended into one."

Lola, who loves riding her bike, playing dress-up, swimming and skiing, will celebrate her birthday with a Tinkerbell party.

REMEMBERING FOUR YEARS ON

Homebush emerges from ruins

Disaster repairs just 10pc complete

EQC battle felt like the 'twilight zone'

EQC's cash reserves run close to wind

Is a new life emerging in Christchurch?

- The Press

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