SWNS/BBC Look East
Corporal Simon Mercer wasn't going to let a little thing like 3,500 miles get in the way of him seeing his son being born
It was almost a case of Planes, Trains and Automobiles when he raced back - via a helicopter, three planes and a car - from serving in Afghanistan to reach his wife in just 14 hours.
Simon, 30, had planned to take two weeks leave in August to be home for his son's due date, but when he received a call saying his wife Karen, 35, had gone into labour nine weeks early
, he wasn't going to miss it for the world.
Military officials sorted a helicopter and flew him to a waiting plane which took him to an airfield. There he jumped onto a second plane before landing at another airstrip to meet up with a plane taking troops home to the UK.
SWNS/BBC Look East
As he landed at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, a car whisked him straight to Salisbury District Hospital. He arrived at the maternity ward 14 hours later, just as midwives were giving Karen drugs to delay labour.
Their son Heath was born the next day weighing just 3lb, 3oz.
"We had planned for the labour and were hoping that Simon would be able to take his 'R&R' in August as I was due on August 13," says Karen, an administrator from Bulford Camp, Wiltshire. "I had felt a few pains earlier in the day but didn't think anything of it and was taking a booked tour of the hospital when they said I had gone into labour.
"It was such a huge shock. All I could think was that I wasn't ready and it was way, way too early. I was so worried about the baby and whether he would be okay. My midwife phoned the Army and made them understand the gravity of the situation. They made the decision to send him home.
"They organised a helicopter and then three planes to bring him here. When he arrived it was just such a relief."
Simon spent two weeks in hospital with Karen and Heath before returning to Afghanistan three weeks ago.
SWNS/BBC Look East
"It was pretty kind of flash to bang the whole way through," he says. "I think it took about 14 hours from leaving Afghanistan to walking through the hospital doors. It was just surreal.
"I'm incredibly proud of my wife for how well she's been doing and incredibly proud of the little 'un for how well he has been fighting through."
Heath is still in hospital recovering from his premature arrival, but it making good progress and is expected to be allowed home soon.
Congratulations Simon and Karen!
- Mum gives birth on commuter train
When Rabita Sarkar started having contractions, she didn’t think she would make it to hospital quick enough with New York commuter traffic, so she hopped on a subway train with her husband Aditya instead. Her son wasn’t hanging around though, and Rabita <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/01/17/mum-gives-birth-on-train-after-trying-to-beat-rush-hour-traffic/" target="_blank">gave birth on board</a> minutes after the train left their station. The driver skipped the majority of the stops on the journey into Manhattan, and emergency services were waiting for the family as they pulled into Manhattan's 33rd Street Station to take them to hospital.</p>
- Granny who didn't know she was pregnant gives birth in the street
Gran Jane Eadie got the shock of her life when she went into labour on a Derbyshire street - especially as she didn’t know she was pregnant! Jane had stomach pains while out and about, and sat down on a bench to rest. She then surprised passers-by, and herself, by going into labour and <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/10/06/granny-gives-birth-to-baby-boy-in-a-derbyshire-street/" target="_blank">giving birth to a little boy </a>called James. Jane said she had noticed she had put on weight, but thought she was menopausal!</p>
- Dad delivers baby into his hoodie
Mum-to-be Toni Pankhurst was turned away from hospital as midwives didn’t think she was near to giving birth. Her baby boy, Phoenix, was born 10 minutes later in the hospital car park, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/01/03/dad-delivers-son-into-his-hoodie-in-hospital-car-park/" target="_blank">into his dad’s hoodie,</a> weighing 5lb, 15oz. Four police officers nearby ran to help Toni and midwife for the day, husband Martin, before Toni and new arrival Phoenix were taken back into hospital for checks.</p>
- Mum gives birth in shop doorway
Poor Sarah Plews ended up <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/12/12/mum-gives-birth-in-shop-doorway-unusual-birth-story-location/" target="_blank">giving birth in a shop doorway</a> after midwives turned her away from hospital! The mum-to-be was told to go for a walk and get some lunch, as she wasn’t ready to give birth. Sarah and husband, Dave walked to a nearby café, but as they made their way back to the hospital, baby Ivy made her arrival, with Sarah sitting in a shop doorway. Despite the dramatic delivery, Sarah had nothing but praise for the midwives, but did want to say “I told you so!”</p>
- Mum gives birth live on the internet
Mum of three Nancy Salgueiro <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/10/17/mum-gives-birth-live-on-the-internet/" target="_blank">gave birth live on the net</a> in October, welcoming a 6lbs, 10oz baby boy in front of 13,350 viewers. Nancy, from Canada had a water birth, before her two-year-old son Taivus cut the umbilical cord and five-year-old daughter Leilani looked on.</p>
- Midwife delivers own baby using make-up mirror
Despite delivering thousands of babies, Claire Clarke-Wood didn’t expect to have to be her own midwife. But when she went into labour at home three weeks early, she <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/12/29/midwife-claire-clarke-wood-delivers-her-own-baby-daughter-esmay-using-a-make-up-mirror/" target="_blank">delivered baby Esmay herself,</a> using a make-up mirror in her bathroom to see what was happening! After having contractions, Claire called an ambulance, but super-speedy Esmay made her entrance before they arrived, weighing 6lb, 12oz.</p>
- Mum gives birth in Clarks
Michelle Collins came away with more than she expected when she went shoe shopping close to her due date. She went into <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/11/28/mum-names-son-ethan-clark-after-giving-birth-in-clarks-shoe-shop/" target="_blank">labour in a branch of Clarks,</a> and then named her new arrival after the shoe chain, choosing the moniker Ethan Clark. Michelle gave birth to Ethan in the staff room of a Clarks factory outlet in Street, Somerset, and funnily enough, didn’t actually get any shopping done…</p>
- Mum gives birth at a bus stop
A bus stop in Cumbria was the unlikely setting for a <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/09/23/bus-stop-birth-woman-gives-birth-to-breech-baby-at-bus-stop/" target="_blank">dramatic breech birth</a> in September. Agata Kopera was turned away from hospital, and gave birth to baby Fabian at a bus stop on her way home. Leaning against the side of the bus stop, she delivered her son into her husband’s jacket. New dad Jacek raced to get help from a nearby house, before the family were taken to hospital.</p>
- Mum runs marathon and gives birth hours later
Sporty Amber Miller made headlines when she ran a marathon while heavily pregnant, and then <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/10/11/mum-runs-marathon-then-delivers-her-baby/" target="_blank">gave birth hours later</a>. Amber completed the 26 mile race in 6.5 hours, but had to walk the second half after her contractions started! After a quick bite to eat, she headed to hospital and gave birth to baby June, weighing 7lbs and 130z.</p>
- Mum takes driving test while having contractions
When heavily pregnant Emma French started having contractions just before taking her driving test, she was determined to get through it, so she wouldn’t have to wait months for another test! Emma kept her contractions a secret from her examiner and instructor, and <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/11/01/mum-takes-driving-test-whilst-in-labour-and-drives-herself-to-hospital-for-birth/" target="_blank">passed her test before driving herself to hospital</a> where she gave birth to baby Eva.</p>
- Sisters give birth to baby girls within hours of each other in the same hospital
Sisters Nicole Jeffs, 19, and Elisa Pass, 30, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/02/10/sisters-give-birth-to-baby-girls-within-hours-stepping-hill-hospital/" target="_blank">both gave birth</a><a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/02/10/sisters-give-birth-to-baby-girls-within-hours-stepping-hill-hospital/" target="_blank"> to baby girls, in the same hospital ward within hours of each other!</a> The close-knit pair actually discovered they were pregnant on the same day, and although they were due a fortnight apart, both their daughters arrived within hours of each other.</p>
- Sisters give birth in the same hospital bed one day apart
Rhiannon and Natalie Perllman traded places in the maternity suite when one was wheeled out after having her twins as the other was wheeled in! The coincidence happened despite the fact that Rhiannon, 23, and Natalie, 27, were supposed to give birth more than a month apart.</p>
- Mum survives four heart attacks and a stroke while giving birth to twins
George Cormack, 33, from Essex, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/04/18/mum-survives-four-heart-attacks-and-a-stroke-while-giving-birth-to-twins/" target="_blank">almost died when her heart stopped after a bilateral stroke as she gave birth</a> to her first twin, Oscar. Her second twin, Connie was not breathing when she was delivered, but was saved thanks to medical staff at Colchester General Hospital. George suffered an <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2010/01/27/a-what-is-amniotic-fluid/" target="_blank">amniotic fluid </a>embolism - a rare condition which effects about one in 20,000 women - where fluid which surrounds the baby enters the mother's blood stream via the womb and triggers an allergic reaction. Doctors put George in an induced coma to help her recover, and when she finally woke up, she spent three months battling to get back to health, getting to know her twins, and learning to speak again.</p>
- Mum delivers baby home alone... then has to save her life minutes later
Clare Callaghan went into labour home alone. <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/pregnancy-and-birth/mum-delivers-baby-home-alone-then-saves-her-life-minutes-later/" target="_blank">She then had to save newborn Pippa after she stopped breathing because she was born still in her amniotic sac</a>. Clare then had to rip it apart to save her newborn daughter’s life. “I had to break it open with my hands, which was difficult,” says Clare. “I don't know where I got the strength from, but I knew I had to do it to save my baby's life.”</p>
- Mum gives birth on back seat of cab
Taxi for two please, mate! Cabbie Peter Wakefield got the shock of his life when he was asked to take Faye Branighan to hospital as she was in labour. He raced across town to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, but new arrival <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/04/23/taxi-mum-gives-birth-on-back-seat-of-cab/" target="_blank">Lucas Jake was ready to arrive, and was born in the back of the 36-year-old's taxi </a><a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/04/23/taxi-mum-gives-birth-on-back-seat-of-cab/" target="_blank">in the hospital's car park.</a></p>
- Mum gives birth in front of cheering bus stop queue!
A mum <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/09/28/mum-gives-birth-in-front-of-cheering-bus-stop-queue-wiltshire/" target="_blank">gave birth to a baby girl at a bus stop</a> while passersby cheered her on! The woman was just outside Great Western Hospital in Wiltshire when her baby decided to make her speedy entry into the world. A small crowd helped the mum as her daughter was born, before a group of doctors and nurses raced out of the hospital to help. </p>
- Student with 'appendicitis' has surprise baby - in hospital loo
Student Patricia Nowell had the surprise of her life when she was <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/03/20/student-with-appendicitis-has-surprise-baby-in-hospital-loo/" target="_blank">rushed to hospital with suspected appendicitis - and came home with a baby son!</a> Patricia, 20, went to hospital with stomach cramps last October and had to catch 3lb 8oz Matthew when she went to the toilet while waiting to see a doctor.</p>
- Mum's backache was labour and a surprise baby!
Struggling to an out-of-hours doctors' surgery with excruciating backache, mum-of-one Kayleigh Renwick thought she would be diagnosed with a kidney infection. Instead, she was told <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/11/27/mums-backache-was-labour-and-a-surprise-baby/" target="_blank">she was pregnant - and just six hours later gave birth to her second daughter!</a></p>
- Baby born 1000 ft in the air inside Coastguard helicopter
In December 2012, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/12/11/baby-born-1000-ft-in-the-air-inside-coastguard-helicopter-unst/" target="_blank">a baby was born a whopping 1000 ft in the air in a Shetland Coastguard helicopter!</a> The expectant mum went into labour on Unst, the most northerly inhabited island of the UK, and was collected by helicopter to be taken to the mainland. Stressful!</p>
- Mum gives birth on a plane
A woman named her new baby after one of the flight attendants who came to her aid when she <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2013/01/14/mum-gives-birth-on-plane/" target="_blank">went into labour during a flight!</a> Armina Babayan, 31, was flying to Armenia from Siberia on Saturday, and gave birth to a baby daughter mid-air, two hours before the flight landed in the capital city of Yerevan. </p>
- Woman who didn't know she was pregnant gives birth on Christmas Day
Leanne Carter, 21, gave birth on Christmas Day - to a son called Joseph. Giving a whole new meaning to Christmas surprises, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/12/31/woman-leanne-carter-gave-birth-on-christmas-day-she-didnt-know-she-was-pregnant-surprise-baby-joseph/" target="_blank">she had no idea she was pregnant until she went into labour.</a> Leanne had felt a bit bloated just before Christmas, but was still having her periods and did not have any other pregnancy symptoms.</p>