St George Private midwives help stranded Sharks player witness baby’s birth via FaceTime
Aug 24, 2021
Midwives at St George Private Hospital are being hailed as heroes after helping a NRL star to witness the birth of his first child - from four hours away on the side of a busy highway.
Cronulla Sharks’ player Royce Hunt was heading to bed on the eve of his team’s game against the Warriors in Brisbane earlier this month, when his wife Shavaun phoned him in tears to say her waters had broken.
“I was pretty dramatic,” Shavaun recalled with a laugh. “I was just crying and panicking because it was Friday night and he wasn’t flying home until Sunday. But Royce said it’s all right, calm down I will sort something out,” she said.
“I was like no way! I called the team manager to see if he could do anything but there were no flights. So I got on our team What’s App group and asked the boys if I could borrow a car. Then everyone was freaking out,” Royce chuckled.
“Heaps of the boys are dads and they just came knocking on my door, they were packing my bags, giving me keys, my head was all over the place because this was 930pm the night before a game. They had me in the car within 15 minutes,” he said.
Facing a 10 hour drive from Brisbane to St George Private Hospital, the couple was confident Royce would make baby’s arrival in time. But their first-born had other ideas.
“I was about four hours away when I got a FaceTime call and I just thought oh this is it, so I pulled over. Shavaun was already pushing, I was balling my eyes out on the side of the road. I saw his head come out and he had his hand over his face just like in all his scans. It was just such a beautiful sight,” Royce said.
Ten days before his due date, a perfect Wolf Paranihi-Hunt was born at 230am on 7th August, weighing 3.1 kilograms. The very proud parents say little Wolf has a full set of hair and really big feet.
Shavaun is full of praise for the midwifery team who helped Royce experience Wolf’s birth.
“Honestly it actually felt like Royce was there. The midwives had the idea to FaceTime and their level of care was exceptional. Colette was holding my leg with one hand and the phone with the other. Nicole was squeezing my hand because my poor mum has arthritis and I’d already squeezed her so hard. To look back now I just wouldn’t have it any other way - baby’s healthy, I’m healthy and Royce got here safely,” Shavaun said.
St George Private midwives Nicole Greig and Colette Lamberton waited until Royce arrived at the hospital so he could be involved in all the baby’s checks and measurements. They both say it’s a birth they’ll never forget.
“We have a responsibility to women and their families to provide the most positive birthing experience. When I realised Royce was not going to make I, I suggested to Shavaun FaceTiming the birth. Royce was then able to provide words of encouragement, they could see and communicate with each other and Royce was able to witness the birth of his son despite being hundreds of kilometres away,” Nicole said.
“Facilitating a positive experience often means ‘thinking outside the box’ and that’s hopefully what we achieved for Shavaun and Royce.”
“It was really very, very special it will absolutely stay with me. Nicole suggested we take a photo of the three of them and the baby lifted his hand up to the phone and put it on dad’s image, just like he knew that was dad. We all just melted,” Colette said.
“As soon as Royce got here, within minutes he had his shirt off and baby on his chest for skin to skin contact. It was beautiful, a beautiful connection of family that shows being a father is just as important,” she said.
Two days after Wolf’s birth, Royce phoned his coach to let him know he’d decided not to return to the team camp.
“I just thought being new parents in hotel quarantine for two weeks, with no help, would be too much. He said ‘professionally I’m filthy because I want you here, but personally I think you’ve made the right decision - you never get this time back’ He was really amazing,” Royce said.