The Sandman made Christin and Kris Hetherington’s dreams come true.
The Lac La Hache couple welcomed their baby girl – Alexandra Karin Hetherington – into the world in a suite at the Sandman Hotel and Suites Williams Lake in a “home birth” Jan. 5. The 8.4-pound baby, a little sister to her two-year-old brother Patrick, was one of the first South Cariboo babies born in 2021.
“She basically popped out like a football. She was born in her water sac so I got to see it. It’s pretty rare and really special,” dad Kris said. “It was really beautiful. I got to cut the cord and everything.”
Alexandra marks one of the first home births in a Williams Lake hotel. The couple, who had booked the Williams Lake-based Cariboo Midwives, chose the hotel as they were required to be within a 30-minute drive of the Cariboo Memorial Hospital.
Megan Corbett, of Cariboo Midwives, said hotels offer an alternative to people who don’t have family and friends close to hospital. Demand for home births is on the rise across the region, she added.
“Anywhere warm, dry and safe and has a bathroom is an acceptable place for a home birth,” Corbett said, adding the Sandman was very supportive of the Hetherington’s wishes. “They went out of their way to accommodate them.”
Kris admits he was apprehensive about having his baby born in a hotel but it was something Christin really wanted, partly because of COVID-19. The couple emailed several motels and hotels in Williams Lake and when no one immediately responded, Kris was hopeful they would have to go to hospital.
The Sandman, though, was the first to respond, he said, welcoming them with “open arms and helping us every step along the way.”
“I was hoping we didn’t find a motel,” Kris admitted. “I wanted to have her at a hospital but we found a (hotel). If I was a manager at a motel I think I would have said no, too, but it went perfect and I have no regrets. She’s perfectly healthy, everything’s great.”
As soon as Christin started having contractions at 4 a.m. on Jan. 5, the couple headed straight to the hotel, where the suite was ready for them. As part of the home birth, the couple brought their own sheets, towels and tablecloths to cover the bed and floor of the hotel – everything that could get dirty, Christin said. They even brought a cloth and buckets to clean up afterward.
Their daughter was born just four hours later at 8:05 a.m, in her caul. Corbett said only about 10 percent of babies are born this way. In places like the Philippines, it’s considered good luck.
The couple named the baby Alexandra after the hotel’s front office manager Alexandra Shuba. They wanted a name that started with A and Shuba was “so good to us,” Kris said.
“They were very generous and gracious and excited to host us,” he said. “They gave us a great deal on the room for the time we stayed there.”
Shuba said she was flattered when the Hetheringtons returned the room key and asked if they could name the baby after her. She joked that she keeps telling other family members that ‘Alex’ is a great name but nobody had taken her up on the suggestion until now.
“It was a very wonderful surprise,” she said, adding she is writing a letter to baby Alexandra with some information about her namesake. “I was lost for words. I genuinely love all our guests and for someone to appreciate my hard work … it was wonderful.”
Back in Lac La Hache, Alexandra is settling in.
“She’s awesome. she cries a lot and she eats a lot and she sleeps a lot and she looks like her brother,” Kris said. “She fits right in.”