When Leanne and Kevin Peters set off to give birth in the Kamloops hospital from their home on Loon Lake Road on Feb. 11, they did not think they would end up having the baby by themselves in a parking lot in Cache Creek, nearly the same week 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. Usually, they tell you to come in when they’re three to four minutes apart, according to Leanne.
“The contractions weren’t really consistent throughout the day.”
They didn’t want to go to the hospital and just be sent home because it’s a 120 km, the same distance it’s to 100 Mile House for them, she says (although 100 Mile House doesn’t do births anymore).
“I guess it was about 8 o’clock and things kinda slowed down a little bit with the contractions. So, I thought ‘oh we’ve got some time.’ We have a two-year-old daughter as well, who we had to drop off at 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 friends on the way,’ they’re about 10 km away, ‘instead of waking everybody up in the middle of the night to drive to Kamloops.’”
They completed some chores on their small ranch and at about 9 p.m. they loaded everybody up in the truck, according to Leanne. She’d 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 felt totally fine during that drive, she says, adding that she doesn’t think she had one contraction in that time, which she now thinks was the transition phase. By the time they got back to the bottom of the driveway it totally changed and it felt like the baby was going to be coming, she says.
“It was just really, really quick all of a sudden.”
She phoned the Kamloops delivery ward and they told her to phone 911 if she felt like the baby was coming so an ambulance could meet them, says Leanne.
“I think it was a three-minute phone call with them and by the end of that three-minute phone call, I was sure that we definitely weren’t going to make Kamloops.”
She hung up and phoned 911 right away and they had just about reached the highway, she says.
“When he [Kevin] saw me dialling 911 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 after talking it over, they were going to send one from Ashcroft.
“We were just like two kilometres before Cache Creek still and I asked [the 911 dispatcher] ‘okay, where is the ambulance now?’ and they were seven kilometres away still from Cache Creek.”
At that point, Leanne knew the baby wasn’t going to stay in past Cache Creek, she says, and they pulled over in the parking lot near the junction of Highway 97 and 1 for the ambulance to meet them there. Once they pulled over and knew it was happening their attitude changed and they weren’t panicking or stressing, according to Leanne
“We 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 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 911 operator, Leanne says she felt the baby come out.
“I yell at him, ‘what are you doing?’ and it only took that split second for him to look at the phone before her head was out and 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 a minute and a half of being in the backseat, before the baby was born, according to Leanne, adding that Kevin was the perfect person to have there with her and not just because he’s her husband but because, as a rancher, he knows what to expect with animals anyways (both of them are also firefighters for 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 she was born, she says. There were some concerns about the baby being too cold with it being about -20 C with the wind. The truck doors were open part of the time and they walked over to the ambulance where they cut the cord and everything, she says.
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 kinda birth our baby by ourselves, the two of us,” she says, “at the same time, thank goodness that everything was fine. Yeah, because 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, she says, because “the hospital turns you away unless you’re pretty much ready to have a baby.
“If it was even in Ashcroft, the Ashcroft hospital, if you drive in and get sent home, it’s only 40 kilometres, it’s not that big a deal but to go 120 kilometres 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 would still have been in the back seat.
“In hind sight, we think about how it was so close to happening that way and that would have been really bad. 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.”
They named the baby Carsyn Mary Peters.