Nicolle Clappison had her birth plan laid out and her hospital bag packed for the birth of her second daughter, but things did not go according to plan.
Clappison's water broke last Thursday at 1 a.m. and she thought she had lots of time to get to the hospital. Clappison spent 24 hours in labour with her first daughter, Elise, and she expected more of the same.
The Halifax-area family lives about a 30-minute drive from the IWK Health Centre, where Clappison planned to deliver. But she knew this time was different as soon as she and her partner, Isaac Fraser, got into their vehicle.
"We only got two or 3 minutes up the road and Nicolle just kind of looked at me and said, 'You got to pull over because I think the baby's coming, like now'," said Fraser.
Fraser pulled over in the parking lot of a paramedic base near their home, hoping for some emergency medical support.
"I just kind of banged on the door and then I looked in the bay garage and the ambulance was gone. So that's when I was like, 'This is not as helpful as I hoped it was going to be'," Fraser said.
So he called 911, and the dispatcher talked him through the process.
"I could see the baby was just kind of starting to crown and come out," Fraser said. "So [the dispatcher] said, 'Well, you're going to have to deliver the baby yourself now because it's really coming.'"
Ten minutes later, baby Brenna was born.
"When Brenna came out, I just kind of took her out and wiped down a bit and wrapped in a blanket and put her on Nicolle," Fraser said.
"It was not the most ideal conditions, but we got it done."
According to Nova Scotia Health's perinatal database, there were 7,378 births in the province last year. Only 32 were unplanned, out-of-hospital births like baby Brenna.
Clappison said she was in pain, but not afraid. She said she's thankful Fraser has first aid training due to working offshore in the oil and gas industry, and isn't squeamish.
"I just remember not thinking basically," Clappison said. "And my body just taking over and pushing the baby out."
Fraser said after the birth, the 911 dispatcher told him he had to tie off the umbilical cord, but he had no string in the car.
"So he said, 'Well, what about a shoelace?'" Fraser said. "I took off my left shoe and took out the shoelace and went six inches from the baby and pulled it tight, and that's all we had to do."
Clappison said she thinks she went into shock after that.
"Things did get a little bit blurry. And then the ambulance did show up shortly after that."
The family was taken to the IWK by ambulance, where the doctors found everyone happy and healthy. Clappison said since then, baby Brenna has been relaxed, sleeping well and doing great.
Fraser and Clappison say their only advice for new parents is to expect the unexpected, and keep an extra shoelace in the car.
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