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Long-haul baby enjoys Christmas

PUBLISHED: 15:00 23 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:48 09 March 2010

Harrison Griffiths

Harrison Griffiths

Meet Harrison Griffiths - the miracle baby about to celebrate his first Christmas.

Little Harrison should have been born in hospital in Norwich.

Instead he was born thousands of miles from home, almost three months early and 50km from the nearest hospital.

Baby Harrison Griffiths and parents Adam and Rebecca

Meet Harrison Griffiths - the miracle baby about to celebrate his first Christmas.

Little Harrison should have been born in hospital in Norwich.

Instead he was born thousands of miles from home, almost three months early and 50km from the nearest hospital.

And by the time medical help arrived he was limp, blue and not breathing.

The rural nurse who raced into the house minutes after the birth took one look at the lifeless newborn and braced herself to tell the parents that their first baby was dead. But first she placed an oxygen mask over his face, desperate to try everything before admitting there was no hope.

And much to the relief of parents Rebecca and Adam Griffiths she began breathing.

Today, as the family gets ready for baby Harrison's first Christmas they spoke in public about his miracle birth for the first time.

The drama began when Rebecca, 28, and Adam, of Bridewell Street, Wymondham, flew to New Zealand for a friend's wedding. Both originally from New Zealand, they proudly showed off the burgeoning baby bump to family and friends. They were staying at her parents' farm when, just six days into their visit, Rebecca woke with stomach ache.

“I knew that it was common to have twinges months before being due, so I went back to sleep,” she said. As the pains got worse she decided she might have picked up a tummy bug - and then her waters broke. “I had been going through labour without even knowing it,” said Rebecca. “Mum quickly phoned the emergency services but there was no waiting around for this little baby.

“With the sound of Adam and Mum saying, 'Don't push, don't push,' and me saying, 'I can't stop,' a small head crowned.”

Seconds later Adam delivered his son.

“We heard a small reassuring squawk and felt a strong heartbeat but the adventure was not nearly over,” said Rebecca.

The farm was 50km from the nearest hospital. However a rural nurse and a St John Ambulance team were scrambled. The nurse was first to arrive and later told Rebecca that her first thought was: “How am I going to tell these people their baby is dead?”

Rebecca added: “As he lay still on my stomach I cried out within me, 'Lord let your will be done but please let him live.'”

An oxygen mask was fitted and, eventually, Harrison took a breath; his blue skin turned pink and life flooded back into his tiny body.

An emergency helicopter landed on the lawn, but the baby, weighing just 2.6lbs, was not out of danger. This was a stand-in helicopter with no incubator on board. “Our wee boy had to fight to keep breathing on his own,” said Rebecca.

With no room in the helicopter for him, Adam had an agonising hour-long drive to the hospital, desperately worried that his son would not survive.

However, Harrison made it. A fortnight later he no longer needed help with his breathing but it was eight weeks before he was allowed out of hospital.

“During that time it seemed like every day we had to face a new challenge and let go of something else in our lives,” said 25-year-old IT worker Adam. “First it looked like I would lose my job, then there was the possibility of having to sell our house, then the possibility of not going back to the UK at all.”

Adam's employer kept his job open, he found part-time work in New Zealand and the couple's insurers agreed to get them home.

A two-and-a-half-week holiday had turned into four months away, but eventually the new family arrived back in Norfolk - with a their very own miracle.

“That day we knew that right before our very eyes we had witnessed the miracle of God breathing life into our wee boy, Harrison. Harrison is a blessing from God that we will treasure for the rest of our lives,” said Rebecca.

Today Harrison is eight months old - and thriving. On Christmas Day four generations of his family will gather, including Adam's grandma from Norfolk, his mum from New Zealand - and the son who was supposed to be born in Norwich but actually arrived half a world away. And his traumatic birth has not put his proud parents off. “I'm one of six and I'm planning six children!” said Rebecca.


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