My Birth Story: My baby was born nine weeks early in the back of an ambulance.

Birth: there's nothing quite like it, and it's clear no two birth stories are the same. Which is why we're asking everyday women and some of our favourite celebrity mums to share theirs, in Mamamia's My Birth Story series. 

This week we profile Maryjane King, mum to baby Opal who was born nine weeks early on Tuesday September 27, 2022 in the back of an ambulance.

Maryjane was already a mum to nine-year-old Alex when she was delighted to discover she was pregnant again. 

"It was a great pregnancy," Maryjane says. 

"She was an active baby, but I wasn't as sick with her as I was with Alex. I kept the pregnancy a secret and only told family. It wasn't until she was born that my parents found out she was a girl."

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At 31 weeks, Maryjane was visiting Junee in NSW to help sort out her late grandfather's home with several extended family members including Shaun, her partner of 12 years.


"I didn't think to tell my midwife because we were only going away for a week," Maryjane tells Mamamia.

"I began feeling uncomfortable on the Sunday and Monday but assumed it must be Braxton Hicks. We were getting ready to leave on Tuesday, but I had promised Alex we would visit the Dog on the Tuckerbox in Gundagai. 

"Driving back on the bumpy, potholed country roads I felt much worse, but I still didn't want to tell anyone as I thought we'd soon be back home in Brisbane. At bed time and after having a shower and trying to sleep, the pain was so bad I told Shaun."

Shaun immediately told Maryjane's mum who got straight on the phone to the NSW Ambulance service.

"I was timing my contractions with mum and she was saying they were getting closer. She looked me in the eye and said 'bed or floor?' and I was crying and saying 'no' in disbelief that I might have to deliver on the floor. When paramedics Jimmy and Tim walked through the door at 1am, it was like seeing angels.

"They placed me on the stretcher and into the back of the ambulance. Shaun jumped in too and we headed towards the nearest city of Wagga Wagga, a 30 minute drive from Junee. I was screaming and carrying on and they tried to offer me 'the green whistle' [emergency pain relief medication] but I could not take it as I was too far gone."

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Maryjane says that despite the pain, she remembers getting to a point in the labour where her body just sort of 'took over'.

"I could feel my body doing what it was meant to do. I remembered Alex's birth, and I hooked my leg on the stretcher bed and closed my eyes and then didn't really see anything else. Nearing the hospital, I had a contraction and my waters broke and as Tim was reversing into an ambulance bay, Jim caught baby Opal with the help of Shaun."

It was 1.55am when baby Opal Lee Lane-King arrived nine weeks early on September 27 in the carpark of Wagga Base Hospital. She weighed just 166.5 grams.

"Once Opal was out on my chest, Tim opened the door and there were a bunch of nurses there who took us into the hospital. Everything happened on that stretcher in the hallway; the placenta coming out, the vitamin K needle for Opal. It was all so quick.

"Jimmy and Tim, the paramedic duo I will forever know as 'Jimmothy', visited us later that morning to meet Opal, and I got to apologise for the mess I made in their ambulance!"

After a few hours' rest, Maryjane could get up and walk to see Opal in the NICU where she spent the next two weeks.

"My sister and her kids drove home the day Opal was born, my mum was not far behind with one of our dogs, which left me with the boys - Shaun, Alex, my dad, and our other dog.


Baby Opal with mum Maryjane. Image: Supplied.

"It was stressful but I know NICU. My son was a NICU baby, so I was comfortable with it all. Alex was understandably sad at leaving her in NICU every night, but I explained how I had to trust the nurses and leave him and that she'd be okay. The Wagga Base Hospital staff were beautiful people but soon I wanted to get home."


On October 14, Maryjane got the call for their medi-vac flight home to Queensland. Opal would need to stay for a further five weeks in NICU at the Mater Mothers' Hospital in Brisbane.

"The rest of my family drove home while Opal's interstate jet setting adventure was underway. Nigel from NSW newborn and paediatric emergency transport service (NETS) drove Opal and me from Wagga hospital to the airport. Billy and Bryan then flew us home to Brisbane in a NSW Air Ambulance."

On arrival at Brisbane airport, Maryjane said that NeoRESQ, a Neonatal Retrieval Service specifically designed for the transportation of premature babies, helped transport Opal and herself to Mater Mothers' Hospital.

"It has been a wild ride from the start and I'm still coming to terms with it all. There are so many organisations that have assisted us in both NSW and in QLD, I am just so grateful.

“It’s been a memorable journey since having Opal, and an emotional one too."

Mater Mothers' Hospitals have one of Australia’s largest Neonatal Critical Care Units, providing compassionate and holistic care to sick and premature babies.

If you have a unique birth story to share, let us know by emailing a couple of short sentences to: and including 'My Birth Story' in the subject line. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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