A surprise baby, an 80-hour horror labour in the forest and a desperate plea to the public.
Baby Neo’s birth story is something you won’t read about every day.
Unfortunately, the newborn and his very surprised mum and dad haven’t had the best start to life as a threesome as they are currently stranded in Nepal with newborn bub, unable to return to Australia. Both mum and bub are struggling health-wise and the new parents are now asking the public for support to help them return to their home in Brisbane.
India Hogkins, a 22-year-old barista from Brisbane, didn’t know she was pregnant when she booked a trip to Nepal. She and her partner, Jordan Austin talked about having kids in the future but it wasn’t something they were planning just yet.
While India had been feeling off for months, doctors did not detect her pregnancy and she was told she was iron deficient or had a gluten intolerance or a water-borne bacteria.
For eight to nine months India felt sick but decided to travel to Nepal anyway while Jordan remained in Far North Queensland.
Waters broke while camping in a rice field
It was while camping in a rice field in Rukum, a mountain district 280km west of Katmandu, Nepal, that India’s waters broke. Only then did she realise she was pregnant. And in labour.
While India was with friends, she wasn’t with her partner. One of India’s friends sent Jordan a message, letting him know that his fiance was pregnant and in labour in a rice paddock.
Things are going okay here so far, if you could stay in connection and wifi signal in this time please. I’ll keep you updated. Congratulations you’re going to be a dad!” – read the text Jordan received.
At the time Jordan was in Ravenshoe, QLD and had quite the journey to get to his fiance which included a 24-hour drive, several missed flights, several bus trips and a rockslide that delayed him even further.
A long and tiring labour
Meanwhile, India had moved from the rice field into a forest to labour with friends nearby. India’s labour progressed very slowly as she remained in the early stages of labour for two days.
While it was recommended she go to a nearby hospital, she remained with her friends and moved to a barn to continue to labour.
On the third night, India went to the local hospital, where she was monitored and eventually moved to a larger hopistal.
After 80 hours of labour, in a rice field, forest, barn and hospital, India gave birth to her son, Neo Dundalli Tal Austin. Jordan finally arrived at his fiance’s side and met his newborn son six days after receiving the unexpected text message.
Both mum and bub have health complications
While Neo is healthy, he does require medical support as does India. Since the dramatic birth, mum and bub have been moved to a larger hospital in Kathmandu.
India is showing signs of liver failure and extremely low iron levels (beyond anemic levels). She totally lost her vision, blacking out for over 5 minutes and almost fainted. Neo was born with jaundice and without any ultrasounds or knowledge of whether he was premature or not. We are truly flying blind,” Jordan explains on their GoFundMe account.
Stranded in Nepal with newborn Neo: ‘ Please help us’
In addition to the health concerns, the couple are also struggling to secure a passport for their son so they can return to Australia.
As Jordan explains, The Australian embassy in Kathmandu told him and India to apply for citizenship online for their baby. But because Nepalese authorities issued a birth certificate without a name and the Australian government needs to have the baby’s name on the document, the family is stuck in limbo.
The Australian Embassy in Kathmandu is largely indifferent to our situation. We need the Australian Immigration Department to recognise the urgency of our situation and allow us to come home now, not in 3 months.
We are also contending with Australian and Nepali beaurocracy as we try to secure a passport for our son. This all costs time and money we sorely don’t have as the best place for Mumma and baby is home in Australia. Now more than ever we urgently require your help to get home. Please help us.”
The pair have received over $5,000 to help their financial costs as they remain in Nepal. They are also organising a telethon and hoping the Australian embassy will speed up the process so they can return back to Australia.
You can read more of their story, donate and follow any updates through GoFundMe.