When Leanne and Kevin Peters set off from their home on Loon Lake Road on Feb. 11, so Leanne could give birth to their second child at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, they did not think they would end up having the baby by themselves in a parking lot north of Cache Creek, nearly in the same week that a Williams Lake mom gave birth on the side of Sheep Creek Hill.
Leanne had been having contractions during the day, as well as the night before, but they hadn’t been regular, she says. They started getting stronger in the afternoon of Feb. 11. “Usually they tell you to come in when they’re three to four minutes apart,” says Leanne. “The contractions weren’t really consistent throughout the day.”
The couple didn’t want to go to Kamloops and then be sent home, as it’s a 120km drive. It’s the same distance from Loon Lake to 100 Mile House, but there are no deliveries at the hospital there.
“I guess it was about 8 o’clock and things kind of slowed down a little bit with the contractions,” recalls Leanne. “So I thought ‘Oh, we’ve got some time.’ We have a two-year-old daughter as well, who we had to drop off with friends before we went to the hospital.
“I thought ‘I know this baby is going to come tonight at some point, so let’s just start heading into Kamloops and we’ll drop off our daughter at our friends’ on the way, instead of waking everybody up in the middle of the night.’”
They completed some chores on their small ranch, and at about 9 p.m. they loaded everybody up in the truck. Leanne let the maternity ward in Kamloops know they were on their way before they left. “We were all still pretty relaxed at that point. We weren’t in a huge rush.”
They dropped off their daughter, and Leanne says she felt totally fine during that drive. She doesn’t think she had one contraction in that time, which she now feels was the transition phase. By the time they got back to the bottom of the driveway, however, things totally changed and it felt like the baby was going to be coming, she says.
“It was just really, really quick.”
She phoned the Kamloops delivery ward and they told her to call 9-1-1 if she felt like the baby was coming, so an ambulance could meet them. “I think it was a three-minute phone call with them, and by the end of it I was sure that we definitely weren’t going to make Kamloops.”
She hung up and phoned 9-1-1 right away. They had just about reached the highway by that point, and Leanne says that when Kevin saw her dialling 9-1-1 “He kinda went ‘Oh boy’ and his foot just went down on the gas pedal even further.”
It took a little while to figure out where the ambulance was going to come from, she says, but they were finally told that one was being sent from Ashcroft.
“We were just two kilometres before Cache Creek still and I asked ‘Okay, where is the ambulance now?’ and they were seven kilometres away still from Cache Creek.”
At that point, Leanne says she knew the baby wasn’t going to stay in past Cache Creek, so they pulled over in the parking lot at Chum’s Restaurant at the junction of Highways 97 and 1 so the ambulance to meet them there. Once they pulled over and knew it was happening, however, their attitude changed and they weren’t panicking or stressing, according to Leanne.
They parked and left the truck running. Leanne says there wasn’t even time for a game plan, adding that her water never broke. Kevin quickly took out the car seats and found some old towels while she stood by the back door in hopes that she would feel better.
“He was great, and just thought about what needed doing next, without us even talking about it. After another minute, standing really wasn’t working for me either, and I knew we had no more time to wait. I had to get in the back seat.”
As Kevin was looking at the phone to talk to the 9-1-1 operator, Leanne says she felt the baby come out.
“I yelled at him, ‘What are you doing?’ and it only took that split second for him to look at the phone before [the baby’s] head was out. He put his hands down and the rest of her came out and he grabbed her and put her on my chest right away.”
It only took a minute to 90 seconds of being in the backseat before the baby was born, according to Leanne. She adds that Kevin was the perfect person to have there with her: not just because he’s her husband but because, as a rancher, he knows what to expect (with animals, at least). Both Kevin and Leanne are also firefighters with the Loon Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
There were no complications or anything like that, says Leanne. “Fortunately, everything was fine. It did turn out okay, but if there was something wrong with the baby or me then it would have been a totally different story.”
The paramedics got there about a minute after the baby was born. There were some concerns about the baby being too cold, as the temperature was about -20° C with the wind chill. and the truck doors were open part of the time. The family walked over to the ambulance, where the paramedics cut the cord.
Leanne says they were treated really well when they got to Kamloops. “It’s kind of neat to have that story for her, that we have such a good story that we kind of birthed our baby by ourselves, the two of us,” she says. “At the same time, thank goodness that everything was fine. If there was a slight issue with the baby or me it could just be a very bad story that we’re telling right now.”
They haven’t talked about it yet, but if they have any more children they would probably go and get a hotel in Kamloops, Leanne says. “The hospital turns you away unless you’re pretty much ready to have a baby.
“If it was even in the Ashcroft hospital, if you drive in and get sent home, it’s only 40km, it’s not that big a deal. But to go 120km in winter and then just get turned around and be sent back home and drive back in in another two hours say… you don’t want to make that trip three times.”
Thinking back, Leanne says that if they had left home 10 or 15 minutes later, they wouldn’t have had cell service to call an ambulance, and their two-year-old daughter Morgan would still have been in the back seat.
“In hindsight, we think about how it was so close to happening that way, and that would have been really bad,” says Leanne. “I guess it did really help us, knowing the ambulance was at least on its way for us, and we at least had communication, in case we needed help.”
Leanne and Kevin have named their baby Carsyn Mary Peters.