Saalia Maestrom had feared giving birth on the side of the highway, and she still can’t believe it occurred. “I had this talk with the midwife so many times, but they were convinced it wouldn’t happen,” says the 34-year-old from Port Douglas. “She assured me that I would be on time and that I would not be late.” Saalia’s labor started at 8 a.m. on April 18th. She texted her Mareeba Hospital midwife, who encouraged her to come in 30 minutes later. “I was a nervous wreck. I had planned to depart at 8 a.m., but I was unable to do so “she explains. “I was worried, but I figured they knew more than I did, so I’ll just trust the system.”
Saalia was referred to Mareeba Hospital, which was around 100 kilometers distant; the nearest hospital, Mossman, which was only a 15-minute drive away, had closed its birthing center in 2003. Saalia’s first child was delivered after eight-and-a-half-hour labor, so she was told to expect four-hour labor this time. However, after attempting to stand up in the car during contractions for thirty minutes, Saalia ordered her husband, Conan, to pull over. “I couldn’t possibly keep on for another half hour,” Saalia admits. “We came to a halt, and I went back and forth twice before my water broke. The baby arrived fifteen minutes later.”
Conan had been in contact with the hospital during the journey, but the location where they came to a halt was a mobile black spot. Thankfully, a couple passing by offered assistance. While the wife went to seek phone service so she could call an ambulance, her husband, a veteran paramedic, waited behind. Saalia was on her hands and knees on the lawn, telling her husband that the baby was on the way. Conan continued to believe she was insane from hormones and attempted to encourage her to return to the automobile. “I stated there was no way I was getting back in the car,” she added. We had towels on hand, and the couple had towels as well. I was on my knees, clutching my husband’s hand. The first time I pushed, I felt the baby’s head.
“The second time I pushed, he exclaimed, ‘Oh my God, I can see the head.’ ‘What do we do next?’ we asked each other. Do we have to take the baby out? No, we need to make a push.’ I continued to push, and the baby simply dropped into his arms. Summer River, the newborn daughter of proud parents, says, “I was in my own universe.” I tried to concentrate on myself.” It took another 40 minutes for the ᴀᴍʙᴜʟᴀɴᴄᴇ to arrive, during which time Saalia got extremely ᴄʜɪʟʟʏ ᴀɴᴅ sʜɪᴠᴇʀᴇᴅ. Saalia delivered the placenta in the hospital, and the midwives joked that she didn’t need a midwife after all because they couldn’t figure out what had occurred when the communication ceased.
“It was strange. It had been an exciting journey. However, in 2020, this should not be the case. ‘What the heck,’ my father, who lives on an Iranian island, remarked when I emailed him the photo. Why are you lying down on the grass?’ He couldn’t believe what he was hearing “she explains. “It’s fortunate that this was not a horrific experience, but when you’re in labor, you should be able to focus only on your kid and bonding with your baby rather than driving and worrying about whether or not you’ll make it.” Caroline and Ian Arcus, Mossman residents, were on their way to buy a television when Conan flagged them down and inquired if they had a mobile network.
Caroline adds, “I spotted Saalia squatting down on the lawn, and happily the council had recently cut the lawn, otherwise she would have been knee-deep in tall grass.” “Her hospital bag served as a cushion for her. It was just stunning. I’d hate to assume it was a difficult delivery.” Ian, a former paramedic, stayed to assist Caroline while she drove to get a signal and summon an ambulance. “My initial assumption was that it was Saalia’s first child in 11 years, but she was on her knees on a blanket, so gravity played a role. Conan yanked the baby out, and we checked her pulse and made sure she was breathing “Ian clarifies. Caroline said when she returned and realized the baby had arrived, she fell to her knees.
“I kissed her on the cheek and told her she was amazing. She was still in some discomfort at the time. But she was stunning, calm, and collected. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.” Jessie Goetze, a mother from Port Douglas, was widely chastised in the media after she opted to free birth her first child in 2017 rather than risk giving born on the side of the road. She has been campaigning for the reopening of Mossman Hospital’s birthing facility, which was shuttered by Queensland Health to centralize services. Saalia hopes that future women won’t have to go through what she did, and she’s supporting the campaign to reopen Mossman Hospital’s services.