Issue: 2016-09-01, PHOTO: by Amanda Stumpp
Christine with her family. Kip, the youngest child, was born in Whitehorse
“I would have loved to have had midwifery care and a home birth for all my pregnancies, but
that wasn’t possible,” says Christine, a Whitehorse resident.
When she was pregnant with her first baby and two months away from her due date she noticed some back pain that turned into premature labour. She was flown by medevac to Kelowna where her water broke the next day and she gave birth to her daughter Isabelle after a short labour.
It was a frightening experience and at first she was in denial that it was happening, but when it was clear that she was giving birth she tried to focus on the excitement of meeting her baby instead of the fear.
The birth went really well and even though Isabelle was two months early she weighed a healthy four pounds and seven and-a-half ounces. She breathed and cried right away and both Christine and her husband Roger were able to hold and greet her.
The heartbreak came when Isabelle was put in the intensive care unit and had to stay in hospital for six weeks with limited time for her parents to hold her and take care of her.
“It was a really hard time,” Christine says. “My baby had to spend her first Christmas in the hospital and I cried a lot. When we finally got home, I carried her on me for two months and wouldn’t put her down!”
One-and-a-half years later the next baby was on its way. Ten weeks before the due date Christine was again sent by medevac for threatening premature labour. This time the doctors in Vancouver discharged her right away because it was a false alarm. She was not allowed to return to Whitehorse, however, and had to stay in Vancouver for what ended up to be an expensive six weeks.
The whole family stayed at the Ronald McDonald house and were grateful that this was available to them. Baby Colton came three-and-a-half weeks early at BC Women’s Hospital after a short labour.
Midwifery is regulated and funded in BC, and Christine had a midwife to support her during this birth, which she really enjoyed. Colton, who weighed seven pounds, nine ounces and nursed right away, did so well that they got discharged the next day and the family flew right home to the Yukon.
When Christine was pregnant with baby number three she was determined. “I told the doctors from the start that I am not going to fly anywhere unless this baby is really on its way! I worked really hard to be my own advocate and stay in Whitehorse this time.”
After two premature babies, planning a homebirth for her third child was not an option. Christine chose to give birth in the hospital, but this meant she could not have a midwife provide her primary care. In the Yukon, midwives can provide mothers with primary care for births at home, but not in the hospitals. This is because we are one of the last jurisdictions in Canada that doesn’t have regulations or health care funding for midwifery.
Christine is an active member of CMAY (Community Midwifery Association of Yukon) an association that has been promoting the implementation of midwifery regulations in the Yukon.
Christine hired Kathleen Cranfield, a local midwife, to act as her doula and felt very supported by her throughout her pregnancy and birth. Baby Kip was born one beautiful Yukon night with dusky sky and midnight sun – after a few false alarms and finally another short labour.
The whole family was able to be together and Christine had a great birth in Whitehorse at last.
“I just love having children,” Christine says. “Giving birth is the most empowering and rewarding experience I have ever had.”
But this is only the beginning. Three children are about to grow up in our beautiful Yukon.
"There is nothing more earthy and organic than being present at a birth, and when it is your own, the imprint left upon you is relived over and over again. Having children makes one cherish the little things in life – like having tea parties and playing with sticks and mud. Reliving the excitement of childhood through my children is so special!"
What’s your story? If you are interested in having your Yukon birth story published, please contact me.