On Rundi Anderson’s baby’s birth certificate it asks for a city – so she can’t put down “somewhere along Hwy 16.”
On Jan. 25th, she conquered her latest big fear: delivering a preterm baby along the side of the highway.
Anderson and her husband Michael Lewis and daughter recently moved to Valemount from Vancouver Island. Anderson’s family lives here and they plan to start a business.
The couple was caught by surprise when Anderson went into labour five weeks early. The Valemount clinic is not set up to deliver babies, especially preterm ones. Anderson had thought she would go to Hinton, since many Valley residents go there and it’s where her brother lives. But because the baby came early, she was told not to go to Hinton.
“I thought, ‘OK. I don’t want to have this baby on the way.’”
They went to the clinic around 10pm and she started having mild contractions. The clinic phoned to see where she should go, and it was decided she would go to Prince George via ambulance.
Lewis drove behind the ambulance in his truck. But not even halfway to McBride came another complication.
When they got into the ambulance, the paramedic took her blood pressure and asked her if it’s always low. She said, no, it isn’t.
Then Lewis texted her and told her that his gas light had just come on. He may not make it to McBride. After she had read the text, the paramedic remarked: “Oh, your blood pressure just came back up.”
Anderson watched as Lewis’ headlights turned off the highway behind them, not knowing whether he’d make it in time for the birth.
Lewis had pulled over at Terracana, where he explained the situation to Terracana manager Lisa Levasseur who gladly helped him fill his tank. He was able to meet the ambulance at the McBride hospital.
There, Anderson was again evaluated by a doctor who decided they should start for Prince George.
“Because she was early, they wanted her on the way. Who knows what condition she would be in.”
The doctor came with her in the ambulance. Shortly after leaving McBride, her contractions went from five minutes to two minutes apart.
“I think I was in denial – I was like, ‘No problem, we’re getting to PG,’ and then it was just happening.”
“I looked at them and they asked if we should pull over, and I said ‘Yeah’ and she was out before we even pulled over. I was still strapped into the gurney.”
The doctor ripped off the straps and blanket to get the baby girl.
“Michael came to the door and had this shocked look.”
They were about 9 km north of McBride. Isadora Eilys Lewis had come into the world, tiny and feisty. The paramedic suggested there should be a landmark where the birth had occurred.
The ambulance returned to McBride to make sure everyone was ok. Then they packed up again to go to PG.
“It was a long trip – I don’t know if it was because I was constantly watching her to make sure she was breathing, but it took a long time.”
They are still in hospital in Prince George, but if all goes well, they hope to be home in Valemount this week.
Anderson says she was “a little bit terrified” at the time, but in the end it all worked out.
Will she be having another baby in Valemount? They weren’t planning on it anyway, but…
“That definitely nixed the idea of a third,” she says and laughs. “Otherwise I’ll be having it in the IGA.”