She was sleeping when it happened, taking one of those bone-weary naps you attempt to squeeze in when you have a six-week-old.
Life had been a roller-coaster for Antonia Hayes. At the age of 18 she found out she was pregnant.
She had just started her uni degree and her relationship hadn’t been headed the way of parenthood.
She’d been on the pill but had been sick with glandular fever and Hayes suspects the antibiotics might have rendered the pill ineffective – a normal side effect of taking antibiotics and the pill.
But after viewing a program on television about stillbirth and loss Hayes decided, for her own reasons, to forge ahead with the unintended pregnancy.
Sydney based at the time, Hayes and her boyfriend moved in together and during the summer she gave birth.
It was study break and her birth seemed perfectly timed.
It wasn’t just the timing that was perfect, her baby was too.
She fell in love with her son Julian in an instant.
Antonia Hayes, now an author based in San Francisco, says that the day her life changed irrevocably was just “like any other day”.
In a podcast along with the ABC’s Richard Fidler she tells of how it had been hot, six weeks before Christmas in Sydney and one of those season-changing days when you realise that summer has arrived.
She says it was the first hot day of the year and her baby, Julian was fussing.
It was the first time he had been out of sorts and she had a difficult morning. In the apartment she shared with her partner, Julian’s father the heat encroached on them all and she begged a nap.
Julian’s father took charge letting her sleep.
Suddenly as she woke she heard screams.
“I heard the screams he’s not breathing.”
“My immediate reaction was to get help,” she tells Richard Fidler.
As she dashed to her newborn she says she was frightened.
“I was very scared to see Julian because he wasn’t breathing.
“I didn’t understand what was wrong,” she says. “I just knew we needed people to help him.”
When she ran into the room what she saw stays with her to this day. Her six-week-old pale, grey, floppy. “He really wasn’t breathing,” she says.
She thought he was dead.
“I thought he was sick and we didn’t know.”
Frantically she called for an ambulance. It arrived four minutes later, four minutes she describes as the longest of her life. To her relief paramedics managed to revive the six-week-old and rushed him to hospital, where she says, doctors swooped over him, trying to work out what was wrong.
Alongside her the entire time was her boyfriend, Julian’s father. Her partner kept reassuring Antonia, telling her that although he’d been ‘on duty’ he didn’t know what had happened to Julian.
The distraught couple anxiously waited for doctors to tell them what was going on.