STOP! ‘The baby’s coming right now’

By Laura Briggs

FLETCHER Tully was born recently on a Mooroopna roadside blissfully unaware of his parents and their blind panic.

His Kyabram mother Michelle had gone into early labour and after summoning Echuca husband Bryce from work – about 30 minutes away – everything very quickly started to unravel.

As the contractions quickened Michelle raced around the house trying to pack – nothing was ready as this was her third child and she was only 37 weeks.

With Bryce not far away, she loaded daughters Charlie, 5, and Mia, 2, into the car, along with that rushed bag of essential she hoped actually contained what she needed and waited.

When he shot into the drive he was out of one car and into the next faster than a Bathurst driver and they were headed from home in Tatura to hospital in Shepparton.

Going as fast as he safely could, with Michelle giving contraction updates from the seat beside him, the couple hit bumper to bumper traffic at Mooroopna’s first set of lights.

And knew it was too late.

“By the time we got to Mooroopna I could feel the baby’s head was coming,” Michelle said.

“I said ‘pull over, he’s coming out’.’’

Bryce veered sharply off the road, hit the gutter and stopped on the grass verge. Right there and then panic was not the word to cover their feelings.

He jumped out of the car and tried waving down oncoming cars in a desperate plea for help.

“Everyone must have been looking at me and thinking ‘what is wrong with this bloke’?” Bryce laughed.

“It was like a movie or something.”

In the few seconds it took him to get to the passenger door and his wife Fletcher was on his way.

“As soon as I opened the car door his head was out, she pushed just once more and he was in my arms,” he said.

After a failed gibberish attempt at communicating his whereabouts with a Melbourne-based paramedic in the midst of being driver, father, midwife and panicker, Bryce felt he was on his own.

“Trying to talk to some person in Melbourne, I just got to the point where I was like ‘look, it’s too late man, it’s gone, it’s happened’.”

Then Mooroopna’s Kim James and Simone Elder came to the rescue.

On their way to netball training the women could see something was seriously wrong.

“You just knew straight away something wasn’t right,” Kim said.

They pulled up behind the family’s vehicle and rushed toward the commotion.

“I just didn’t know what to expect. I thought maybe someone’s been sick in the car and they need to clean it out or something,” Simone said.

As they approached the couple they were astounded to share baby Fletcher’s first breaths of life.

Having suddenly been plunged into the role of midwives, the women took charge – covering the newborn and Michelle in blankets and towels from their car, contacting paramedics and working together to keep the whole family calm.

Michelle said given the circumstances she was deeply appreciative for the help of the women.

“I’m just sitting there in the most awkward position with these ladies I’ve never met, while my daughters are in the back — it was pretty crazy.

“We are so lucky and so grateful for them.”

Having dreamt of pursuing a career as a midwife for many years, Kim described the experience as life-changing.

“It’s just unbelievable.”

The women later visited Fletcher and his parents at Goulburn Valley Health, where they all relived the surreal moment.

Michelle said the couple had joked about the unlikely situation, the one you always hear of someone else going through but never expecting it would be you.

“We sort of talked about this happening and joked about it but for it to actually happen was pretty crazy – very surreal.”

But the best news of all was Fletcher was hale and healthy and is now a treasured addition to a much more relaxed Tully family.