Lianne and Jeremy Penfold of Goonellabah with baby Thomas. He was one of 16 babies born on March 18 at Lismore BAse Hospital. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Lianne and Jeremy Penfold of Goonellabah with baby Thomas. He was one of 16 babies born on March 18 at Lismore BAse Hospital. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

16 babies born in a day plus one extra special birth

THE birth of baby Thomas Penfold at a whopping 4.53kg on March 18 via emergency caesarean, was big enough news for the Penfolds, a blended family of 11 from Goonellabah.

The fact Thomas was one of 16 babies born on March 18 at Lismore Base Hospital makes his birth extraordinary.

But it's the family's serendipitous connection with the midwife on duty which makes Thomas' birth story too much for one headline.

Thomas is the sixth baby for 40-year-old Lianne Penfold, who arrived at Lismore Base Hospital Base Hospital at 6am on March 18 in early labour.

"I was six days overdue. By 9am I was sent home. The birthing suite was full and the maternity ward was filling up. I was very sick and vomiting all morning but my labour wasn't progressing," she said.

The Penfolds returned to hospital at midday when Lianne's waters had broken.

"They had to find beds from different areas and move beds around to make room for me to come onto the ward. The birth suite was full and they were saying then that there had been a considerable number of babies born already," she said.

"It would have been 2pm when they took me up to birth suite. I laboured there for some time. I got to about 8cm (dilated) and they could see that the baby was in distress. His heart rate was dropping and the doctor said we will take you upstairs and assess you for a forceps delivery and if that can't happen we will have to do an emergency caesar," she said.

"It was about 28 minutes from them saying 'let's go upstairs' to when Thomas was actually born via caesarean.

"It was very quick. The staff were great. They didn't project panic on me."

"I am 40 and and due to my age, having a still born baby was my fear.

"I was told that there had been 11 births during the day shift but 16 births over the 24 hours," she said.

"The staff were amazing. There are five birthing suites and I believe only one woman had to give birth on a ward. They managed to make sure everyone else gave birth in a suite."

But it's the midwife who attended Thomas' birth, who provides the extra human touch to the story.

Lianne's husband, Jeremy Penfold, a retained firefighter at the Goonellabh Fire Station rescued two people when the scaffolding pierced through Lismore Base Hospital maternity ward in November last year.

One of the people he rescued was the midwife Leanne Chamberlain, who just happened to be on duty for the bumper birth day.

"She stayed back ninety minutes after her shift ended to be there for the birth but it ended in an emergency caesarean.

"I wish she could have delivered Thomas. She had gloved up and everything ready to catch this baby

"Leanne Chamberlain was just beautiful," said Mrs Penfold.

I don't have a problem with their facilities at Lismore Base Hospital. If the pod was open it would have been better. But it was such an extraordinary day.

"The staff were just fantastic," she said.



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