Wednesday 18 January 2017

Baby Zoe Ireland Drake's mum Jenny thanks everybody for their support and says 'I've held her for the first time today'

Published 30/10/2015 | 16:49

The American mum who went into labour on a transatlantic flight and gave birth in Dublin after making an emergency landing has thanked everybody for the support they have shown her.

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Speaking on RTE Radio One's Ray D'Arcy show, Jenny Drake told the broadcaster she has held her tiny baby daughter for the first time today.

Zoe Ireland Drake, who weighed just 850 grams when she was born at 25 weeks after a flight was diverted to Dublin.
Zoe Ireland Drake, who weighed just 850 grams when she was born at 25 weeks after a flight was diverted to Dublin.

Last Saturday, Jenny and her husband Gavin were flying home to Nashville after a 'babymoon' in Paris and were looking forward to seeing their three-year-old son Aidan.

Jenny was 25 weeks pregnant when she started experiencing contractions on the plane.

Her daughter Zoe Ireland weighed just 825 grams when she was born in the Rotunda several hours later.

Speaking this afternoon, she told Ray her daughter was doing well.

Gavin and Jenny Drake
Gavin and Jenny Drake

"Zoe is stable right now. Her doctors say she's as good as she can be right now. She is 26 weeks today, so stable is good at this point," Jenny said.

She told Ray that today was an extra special day for her as she got to hold her daughter for the first time.

Jenny said her "extended stay" in Dublin will last several months as her daughter continues to receive treatment in hospital before she is deemed well enough to fly home to the US.

"We'll be here probably at least three months," she said.

Zoe Ireland Drake
Zoe Ireland Drake

The couple are staying in accommodation for parents of premature babies, which is run by a charity, and are living with five other couples.

"It's been such a relief... to know we have a place to stay," she said, adding that people have been "so generous" towards them.

When Ray asked her how her daughter was faring, she replied: "Right now - obviously it's day by day with a baby this young, but right now she's doing really well.

"I got to hold her for the first time today."

She laughed when asked if Zoe looked like her mother or father.

"You know I have no idea, she's so small. We keep trying to find little features. I think she has my hands, and my husband's feet."

And Jenny joked that in the future, she will be able to say of Zoe that "she has worried her mother since birth".

This evening, the Rotunda Hospital issued a statement on behalf of Gavin and Jennifer Drake:

“We are delighted with the safe arrival of our baby daughter, Zoe Ireland, and her continuing good health. 

"We appreciate the fantastic response and support we have received from everyone including airline staff, fellow passengers, emergency personnel and the medical, midwifery and nursing staff at The Rotunda Hospital.

"We’ve been overwhelmed at all of the good wishes for ourselves, and particularly, Zoe, from our family members and friends.  We also want to acknowledge the heart-warming response we’ve received from the wider public here in Ireland, in the UK and at home in the US who have been very generous in supporting a fund set up by a family friend.  

"Right now, we want to concentrate on baby Zoe and her continued good health.   We’d appreciate if people would give us time and space over the next couple of days to do that.”

Earlier in the radio interview, Jenny told Ray about how her labour started on the flight, and the ambulance dash from Dublin Airport to the Rotunda. At one stage, the ambulance had to pull over as they thought she was going to give birth before arriving at the hospital.

Recalling the flight, she said: "We were up in the air right about an hour when I started having contractions.

"And at first I didn't believe they were contractions. I thought 'oh I just need to drink some water' but they were very very regular, three minutes apart, and they became very very intense.

"So I finally had to get a flight attendant and then tell them my situation.

"Luckily there were doctors everywhere.

"They cleared an entire row for me, a five seat row, I was able to lay down and actually start an IV.

"They turned the plane around and headed as fast as we could.

"Originally they had told me that we were going back to Paris, but we could see [on the screen] the flight was actually heading to Dublin."

Not surprisingly, given she was only 25 weeks pregnant, Jenny feared for her daughter's survival and did what she could to stop the labour.

"It was terrifying.

"Basically my biggest fear was delivering on the plane, because of course we had no medical attention, and I knew her lungs were not developed, so obviously that probably would have been her demise.

"So my biggest fear was just keeping her in. So everything I was doing was just trying to prevent labour.

"We were actually over water when we turned around so I knew we had to find some land," she said.

She told Ray this was her first time in Ireland and she has gotten a "royal welcome".

"I got the royal treatment. I was brought to the Rotunda Hospital.

"We actually pulled the ambulance over once on the way to hospital thinking I was going to deliver her in the ambulance.

"We were about two minutes from the hospital at that point but we were actually able to continue on and I had Zoe four minutes after I arrived at the Rotunda."

At this stage of the interview, Ray D'arcy told her to watch the film 'The Snapper' during her stay in Dublin, as it features a scene when a panic-stricken father drives his daughter to the Rotunda hospital as she's in labour.

Jenny said they had originally planned on giving their daughter Zoe Ireland another name, but all that changed after her surprise birth in Dublin.

"Yes we had to change it. We originally had planned Elizabeth. That no longer seems fitting. She had to now be Ireland."

A friend of the couple has set up a GoFundMe page for their daughter.

"But we've just been very grateful for the prayers and the support of everybody. And it means so much to us," Jenny added.

If you wish to make a donation, you can do so by clicking here.

Read more here:

Almost €13k raised for American family facing prolonged stay in Dublin after baby Zoe born at 25 weeks

Meet Zoe Ireland - American born minutes after arriving in hospital after flight diverted to Dublin  

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