Joy Doyle had always wanted to have a baby at 100 Mile District General Hospital.
She got her wish this month when her second child – Liam Atlas Doyle – decided to come into the world at a most inopportune time.
It was just after midnight on Feb. 7 when Doyle woke up with contractions. The baby, already a week late, was about to arrive. But she had a problem: she couldn’t make it to their truck, and there were no local ambulances available to take her to hospital.
“I had no indication of going into labour ahead of time. It was just after midnight and I was like ‘something doesn’t feel quite right, maybe it’s the start of something,’” Doyle said. “Probably within 20 minutes it was full-blown contractions and I was pretty sure we were going to have the baby here in our house.”
While her husband Laurence was on the line with the 911 operator, 100 Mile Fire Rescue members arrived to keep them company while they waited for an ambulance from Clearwater – at least an hour-and-a-half drive away.
“I was sure glad to have the 911 operator stay on the phone with me. It managed to calm me right back down cause I was starting to freak out with how fast things were going,” Laurence said.
Fire chief Roger Hollander was fighting an RV fire at Country Tirecraft when the call came in. He and firefighter Ryan Dugaro headed to the Doyle house, where they provided oxygen and cleared a path to the doorway for easy access by the paramedics.
This is only the third time Hollander has been called to a birth. This time, though, he was worried he would actually have to deliver the baby.
“Part of the first responder program is that we are trained for deliveries but it doesn’t happen every day,” he said. “It seems each time it’s getting closer and closer to an actual delivery. Being a father I’ve been part of both of my kids’ deliveries so I know it’s an exciting time. The paramedics have more equipment and training to assist mom and the baby so I was happy when they arrived.”
When the paramedics finally arrived they had to decide whether to take Doyle to Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake – where she was scheduled to give birth – or to 100 Mile District General Hospital, which no longer has a designated maternity ward.
Given how far along Joy was, they chose 100 Mile Hospital, arriving at 2 a.m.
“That made them scramble a little bit because they don’t do babies there anymore but they were all fantastic,” Joy said. “Between fire rescue, the paramedics and the nurses at the hospital, they definitely made a very overwhelming situation better. They just got everything together and made it all happen.”
Although there was a doctor and nurses at the hospital who had delivered babies before, Doyle was concerned about the potential for complications. Her son Landon, 2, was ultimately born via emergency C-Section following 27 hours of labour.
But she needn’t have worried. After only a few hours, Liam came into the world at 4:11 a.m. weighing seven pounds, three ounces. After a short recovery, he and his mom were then whisked to Williams Lake by ambulance. Laurence was given a lift home to retrieve his vehicle and a car seat for his new son.
“It was fast, it was furious and it was unexpected,” Doyle said. “I’m still trying to absorb it actually but I’m doing pretty good overall.”
The frantic nature of Liam’s birth made Doyle think of her own dramatic entry into the world. She was born six weeks early in her parents’ truck on their way to hospital from their Forest Grove ranch.
“They headed in for the hospital, hit the second cattle-guard on the road and out I came,” she laughed. “That was how I came into the world and I was starting to have flashbacks thinking that was how he was going to come into the world, but we at least made it to the hospital.”
Laurence, who was worried Liam might be born at home, said it makes sense to re-establish a maternity ward in 100 Mile House. He added he has spoken with many young families who find it hard to make multiple trips to Williams Lake, especially during the winter months.
Interior Health said the ward was closed in 2018 due to declining local birth rates and a lack of “anesthesia coverage” in the community. The Health Authority said it has no plans to reopen a maternity ward in 100 Mile, in part because its staff are prepared to handle imminent births like Liam’s.
Last year there were 47 births in the South Cariboo and 214 in Williams Lake, according to Interior Health.
Meanwhile, the couple are getting used to their family of four and introducing Liam to his older brother Landon. When asked if they plan to have a third child, Doyle was non-committal.
“Let’s put it this way, it’s not 100 percent on the books and not 100 percent off the books either.”