At just one week old, Shane Tutewiriao Cameron Junior is already showing signs of being an active baby. He’s been wide awake for much of the day and waves his long arms and legs around energetically as his dad Shane Cameron, the tough guy of New Zealand boxing, whispers to him as he hungrily takes his bottle.
Nearby, new mother Tara watches proudly as her two boys bond – showing no sign that just a week before, she lost more than a litre of blood in the delivery room, with doctors concerned for her wellbeing.
“It was so scary. I only held my baby for a minute before they whisked him away because blood was pouring out of me, but I looked up and saw Shane with his new son,” says Tara (29), who is combination feeding so her husband is able to experience those precious moments with their baby too.
“Shane always says he isn’t emotional, but he was so proud, so choked up – it was such a moment for me,” she explains.
“I thought I loved my husband as much as I possibly could, but when I saw him holding our son, it went to a whole new level.”
Despite more than one frightening moment during the dramatic delivery, Tara clearly remembers the day she met her son for the first time.
“Shane’s first comment when his son was born was that he has big hands – just like his own,” says fitness expert Tara proudly.
“He had lots of hair too, although it’s starting to lighten a bit, and his eyebrows and eyelashes are blond, so he may end up with Shane’s colouring.”
The new family are showing off their adorable latest addition to the Weekly from their elegant Auckland home – which, as always, is spotless.
“Tara’s always on the go, and part of her daily routine is to clean, mop and vacuum the house every morning – she did it right up until the baby was born, and she still does it now. It’s just the way she is,” smiles Shane (35), who has a daughter, Georgia (8), from a previous relationship.
“Trust me, it can get embarrassing, trying to explain it to the neighbours – the Sunday before she gave birth, she insisted on mowing the lawns, even though I tried to wrestle the lawnmower off her. I ended up spraying the weeds, even though she’d already done it, just so it looked like I was doing something, not leaving my nine-months pregnant wife to do all the work!’
But Tara – a dedicated athlete and partner in Shane’s fitness business, Shane Cameron Fitness on Auckland’s North Shore – wouldn’t be happy any other way.
“I am super-active and all through my pregnancy I felt great. I had no morning sickness, I didn’t feel tired.
“Even on New Year’s Eve I managed to make it to 12.10am before going home to bed! – and I didn’t get that big,” she explains. “I only stopped doing Box-fit at the gym a few weeks before my due date because I was getting too competitive, and was pushing too hard.”
“I kept telling her to settle down, but it wasn’t until she had to go and sit in the car because she felt ill that she finally agreed to stop,” says Shane.
But even that didn’t stop the sporty mum-to-be from staying active – and showing up her professional athlete husband!
Explains Shane, “We went for a run together on Boxing Day” – “more like a plod or a waddle on my part!” interjects Tara – “but early on, I was thinking, ‘Man, this is quite hard,’ so I asked Tara if she was okay.
“She was completely fine, but asked me why I was being so quiet – it was actually because I thought I’d better say nothing as I was struggling. As it was, I walked the end of the run – Tara got home first!”
Eventually, it was an acupuncturist who helped Tara slow down and relax.
“She explained that I needed to let the energy flow down and out of my body so the baby could come out,” she says.
“She told me Shane Junior was ready because she could feel two pulses in me. According to Chinese practice, your baby’s pulse will run with yours until it’s ready to be born, then it will run independently.”
Sure enough, a few hours after her second acupuncture session on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 7, Tara’s contractions began.
“I’d had no real signs, like Braxton Hicks or extra-tiredness, but the contractions kept up through the night. I alternated between lying down, walking up and down the house, and squatting against the wall,” she says. “My best friend in Australia has been my mentor throughout the pregnancy – we ended up messaging all night as she was too excited to sleep!”
And Shane? “I was trying to tell her to calm down. I wanted her to come back to bed and get some sleep so we could have him in the morning, in normal daylight hours!” he laughs.
“I didn’t want to wake him up – I was doing it quietly,” smiles Tara. “I still wasn’t sure if it was the real thing and I desperately didn’t want to go to the hospital only to be sent home again.”
By 7am, with contractions coming every five minutes, Tara finally rang her midwife and arranged to meet her at Auckland hospital at 9am. Unfortunately, the couple hadn’t counted on the mind-bending trickery of getting the baby seat in the car.
“I went for a shower, came out – and Shane was still trying to fit the seat in!” laughs Tara.
“Even though it had been sitting in the nursery for six months, we’d never actually practised fitting it.”
After several attempts – many of which involved Tara crawling into the back seat on her hands and knees, still having contractions, and trying to help from the other side – the pair discovered that the seat belt wasn’t long enough to go round the US-made baby seat, and the pair brought baby Shane home in a hired capsule.
Once at the hospital, Tara’s pushing began in earnest but then the problems started. “I had an epidural because it was so painful, but once I was fully dilated to 10cm, I pushed and pushed, but nothing happened,” she explained.
“I’d had no sleep, nothing to eat in case I needed a Caesarean, and I’m so goal-oriented, this was my job, this was what I had to do – and it wasn’t happening. That’s when I broke down – I was so upset.”
After two and a half hours, a senior consultant was called, who explained Tara’s baby was posterior – “he was supposed to be looking at the ground, but he was looking at the stars,” translates Shane – and the baby was eventually pulled out using a ventouse suction cup. It was then Shane realised just how badly his wife was bleeding.
“Tara’s such a strong girl and she was really struggling – I couldn’t do anything except be with her,” says the former farmer. “But then I saw all the blood – it was pouring out of her, going all over the floor.
“The doctors went very serious – suddenly there were quite a few people in the room. I’d seen my son, knew he was fine – at that point though, I was worried for Tara. I kept looking into her eyes to check that she was still with us, still conscious. But she was just exhausted. All this stuff was going through my head – but I couldn’t tell her.”
After an overnight stay, Tara was transferred to Birthcare for
a few days before the Cameron family arrived home – where, typically for Tara, a routine has already been worked out.
Tara still has the tummy of a woman who gave birth a week ago – but it doesn’t worry her, because she knows it’s natural.
“I’m very fit, so it’ll go back, but this is how you look when you’ve just had a baby. Not very many people slip straight back into having the perfect body without help!” she laughs.
However, while she can’t start exercising until her stitches have healed, she is already starting to focus again on her work at the gym, where she looks after the accounts and staffing.
Shane Junior has settled
into his nursery, which was personalised to reflect his Maori heritage, including his pepeha – a pictorial version of his family tree which explains his roots.
“The pepeha has your mountain, river, waka, marae, tribe and subtribe – it explains where you’re from,” says Tara, who will bring Shane Junior up to be bilingual. “This one says,
‘I am Tutewiriao Cameron’, which is the name he will be known as in our Maori world.”
Although Shane Junior has been named after his dad, Tara says his Maori name Tutewiriao will be used whenever he is on a marae or with his Maori culture.
And as Shane watches his new son finally sleep, he couldn’t be a prouder dad – or husband.
“Tara looks after us so well, and she is so strong – she won’t even let me get up in the night to feed the baby,” says Shane.
“She’s still got stitches after the birth, so I try to do the heavy lifting and help where I can – but that’s who Tara is. She’ll be an amazing mum.”