ACT News

Canberra mum gives birth on the GDE en route Calvary Hospital

Proud new father Colin Cheong had hoped to be in a corner of the delivery room when his wife Liz gave birth this month  to their first child – close enough to be supportive but far enough to avoid growing too squeamish.  

But his wife's labour progressed rapidly as he rushed her to Calvary Hospital on Friday, and it became increasingly clear to the Gungahlin couple that plan would not be an option. 

Liz and Colin Cheong, of Gungahlin, with their daughter Chelsea, who was born in a hurry on the side of the Gungahlin ...
Liz and Colin Cheong, of Gungahlin, with their daughter Chelsea, who was born in a hurry on the side of the Gungahlin Drive Extension on Friday.  Photo: Melissa Adams

Mr Cheong delivered the pair's daughter, Chelsea, on the side of the Gungahlin Drive Extension in Canberra's northern suburbs as cars whizzed past just metres away on Friday.

The circumstances of her birth meant the newborn gained entry to an exclusive Canberra club of sorts, as she was at least the third baby to be born in a hurry on a stretch of road near the northside hospital

Chelsea Cheong has joined an exclusive Canberra club.
Chelsea Cheong has joined an exclusive Canberra club. Photo: Melissa Adams

It was only a few hours before her daughter's dramatic arrival that Mrs Cheong began to experience labour pains, more than a week before her October 20 due date, before her waters broke about 8.30am and the couple hopped in the car.

But as Mr Cheong ferried his wife towards the hospital, her contractions quickly grew more intense.


"I just felt like the baby was coming out but I thought no, it's usually hours and hours and hours," Mrs Cheong said.

"I didn't want to tell my husband because I thought it would freak him out. I said it was coming out and I didn't want him to panic.

"When the baby's head did come out I pulled up my gown to show him. The look on his face was priceless and he said 'Oh my god'."

Mr Cheong called the hospital, where staff phoned for an ambulance and told him to pull over. 

"As soon as he opened the door I said 'Can you catch the baby'?" Mrs Cheong said.

"He doesn't like needles or blood and he looked like he was going to vomit, but he did grab the baby and put it on my chest."

Paramedics arrived minutes later to find Mrs Cheong cradling the newborn and her husband "looking paler than I did".

It wasn't until she was inside the ambulance that one of the workers asked whether the baby was a girl or a boy and she realised she hadn't yet thought to check.

"I looked and I said, 'It's a girl'."

She was the third girl – and the second named Chelsea – known to arrived minutes from the hospital in recent years.

Chelsea Bree Hayes was born while her parents were stuck on a red light at the GDE off-ramp to Belconnen Way en route to Calvary Hospital in July 2012.

In August 2011, Audrey Claire Freebairn was born in nearby Haydon Drive, on the way to the same hospital after going down the same off-ramp.

The matter had been discussed by politicians when a Liberal Party-chaired Assembly committee advised the ACT government to build an emergency access road from the GDE to Calvary Hospital in 2001.

The Cheong family arrived home on Sunday and Mrs Cheong said hospital staff, family members and friends "couldn't believe" how the little girl arrived.

"It was rather extreme ... It was a good outcome in the end and we just did what we had to do."