Terehia Rakatau-Emery was delighted the first time she heard her son cry. 

“I videoed it. I know it sounds weird,” she said. “But it was just so cool, because he made no noise for, like, three months.”

Peter was born at 24 weeks’ gestation, by emergency caesarean section, on July 4. He weighed 664 grams and was rushed to Waikato’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, more commonly known as NICU.

Four months on, he’s grown to 3665 grams and a transfer back to Gisborne was being organised on Monday. It has been one of the hardest journeys his mum has ever had to make, and she wants to thank everyone who helped ease it.

Rakatau-Emery, a Gisborne-based solo mum, had problems right through the pregnancy. Her own father, Peter Tiniwhetu Rakatau-Emery, died about a month before his namesake was born.

“The night before my dad was getting buried, I had to go into hospital with this pregnancy,” she said, “so I nearly missed the service.”

“I lost my dad on the seventh of June and then Peter was born fourth of July.

“They’re exactly the same. I feel my son has his personality because I gave him that name.” 

On July 2, she was flown from Gisborne to Waikato Hospital, on strict bed rest, feeling in limbo. After a couple of days of nil by mouth she was starving, asked staffers if she could eat, and she and her mum headed to a hospital cafe for a pie.

“About an hour after I had that pie it was all on.” 

Neonates consultant Claire West had to explain the situation to her: that her baby could die or have complications. “Even though I knew it was going to be risky, having a pre-term baby, she guided me and helped me a lot.”

Read the full heart wrenching article on Stuff