A day yule remember forever, mother

There could well be birthday candles on the Christmas cake in Rachel Harte’s house from now on — as a happy reminder of the dramatic roadside birth of her baby girl Sienna on Christmas Day.

A day yule remember forever, mother

Rachel, 25, and originally from Skibbereen in West Cork but now living in Rosscarbery, gave birth on the roadside in Bandon shortly after 11am on Christmas Day, in the back seat of her father-in-law’s black X type Jaguar and with the aid of two surprised paramedics and a female Garda.

“This is probably the biggest and best Christmas present ever,” she said and she recalled the “dramatic scene” that developed early on Thursday.

“To cut a long story short, I was due last Sunday, I came to the hospital and was sent home with an induction date for next Tuesday. I was thinking there was no way anything would happen but then on Christmas morning I had severe pains and on the way there I ‘decided’ to give birth.”

Rachel and her partner, Matthew Cheung, 28, left Rosscarbery, and as they passed through Clonakilty at 11.10am her waters broke in the car. Her father-in-law was driving the car.

The group had called for an ambulance as they felt it was unlikely they would make it to the hospital in time, but while the designated ambulance was travelling to meet them, they passed another ambulance in Bandon, where paramedics were treating a different patient — and not surprisingly, Rachel and Co thought it was for them.

They stopped outside a tractor dealership on the Cork side of Bandon.

With the garda holding one of Rachel’s hands out one side of the car and one of the paramedics holding her other hand, baby Sienna was born on the rear white leather seats at 11.25am.

“I was thinking ‘God, this is quick’, and my partner was saying to the paramedics, ‘she’s going to give birth — I can feel the head’,” Rachel said as she recalled the moments before Sienna came into the world.

“I had been thinking ‘this is it, this is going to happen even if we don’t meet anyone [the ambulance].”

Sienna arrived weighing 7.5lbs, and Rachel said she quickly warmed up before being taken the rest of the way to Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH).

“She is good, she is healthy — everything is good.”

Staff at Cork University Maternity Hospital said nine babies were born on Christmas Day — but that St Stephen’s Day was proving busier again.

The first baby in CUMH was a baby boy, born at 12.26am, when Neasa Ní Leonard from Killarney gave birth to Mathew (Maitiu), and the first baby girl arrived almost 12 hours later at five minutes past midday.

In the National Maternity Hospital at Holles St in Dublin, 22 Christmas babies arrived, the first a baby girl weighing 8lbs 12oz at 12.17am.

The duty manager also said a higher number of babies were expected to be delivered at the hospital on St Stephen’s Day.

One of, if not the, first babies of Christmas Day was born in University Maternity Hospital, Limerick, when baby Elsie Bourke arrived just 45 seconds past midnight.

Born to parents Kevin and Sarah, she weighed 6lbs 14oz on arrival.


Nadeem Siddiqui, Moin (16 months), and new mum Rebbecca with son Azam, born 12 minutes past 12 on Christmas Day in the Coombe, Dublin.  Picture: Sam Boal

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