A DAY TO REMEMBER

Blair Bjornsson

It was springtime in Manitoba, the snow was melting and the grass was starting to turn green. Valerie and I were expecting a brother or sister for Ashleigh. Things were going pretty good with the pregnancy, a little past due but going good. On this day, April 7, 1999, I went to work; Valerie was off on maternity leave and was going to see her doctor in Winnipeg for a check up. Her appointment was in the morning and she called me with the update. The doctor advised Valerie she was starting to dilate, but she should make an appointment for the next week. From what Valerie has told me her previous deliveries sere quick, but I figured the doctor knew what she was talking about. We continued to phone back and forth things were going what I would call "normal". Then around 3:00 p.m. Valerie got me a little concerned, she says "I am starting to have contractions a little quicker now and you may want to come home a little early just in case". Well now let’s see what should I do, ok I panicked a little, shut off my computer at work and rushed home. Just to clarify this whole situation for everyone, we live 3 miles North of Stonewall; this is where Valerie was. I work on Broadway in downtown Winnipeg; this is where I was. We are supposed to go to the Woman’s Pavilion (Health Sciences), on Notre Dame Avenue, Winnipeg to deliver the baby. So now back to the story. So of course I sped just a little. Stonewall is not that far away from Winnipeg, but it seemed very far that day. I got home around 4:15 p.m. This is when things got a lot outta control for me. I had not been in contact with Valerie since that last phone call, which was at 3 p.m.

So now let me explain how this adventure really got started. Ashleigh, who is crying and holding a bowl of ice cream, telling me to hurry Mom is having the baby, greets me at the door of our home. My reaction is, HUH?? OH OH!! I run in to see Valerie lying on our bed, her hair wet with perspiration and I could see her water had broken; of course I am now in panic mode. I am thinking she has been in labor for a while and that is why her hair is wet, I find out much later Valerie just had a bath. Ashleigh is still crying and Valerie wants to change her cloths because her pants are wet. I make a quick call to Allison (Valerie’s Sister)– didn’t really have to say anything, she would be right over to watch Ashleigh. I continue to be a panicky father running around trying to get things in order. My Mom had dropped off their dog for the weekend and we have a dog too. So I am trying to set up the gate so they don’t get in the living room and make sure they have food and water. I am gathering up the stuff to take to the hospital, trying to comfort Valerie (she wants to make sure her clothes match) and calm Ashleigh down (still crying). Allison gets to our place; I am still running back and forth to the house and to our truck, grabbing towels and then the suitcase. Valerie is actually very calm at this point. Her and Allison are talking like nothing is going on here. Of course I am thinking, I must get a lot closer to Winnipeg before I will feel a little more relaxed. I now have Valerie outside by the truck. Allison and her our still talking?? I think to myself how come you women are so relaxed here?? I will never figure out women!! Allison then says maybe get a garbage bag for the seat. My reaction is HUH?? I gotta get to Winnipeg. Ok, so I run back to the house get a garbage bag. Back to the truck, put the bag and towel on the seat and get Valerie in the truck. Say goodbye to Ashleigh – tell her mom will be fine and everything is going to be ok. So now we are off. I would say this is about 4:30ish now. I am now kinda back in control. We are heading to Winnipeg; I try to time the contractions. Eventually, I figure them to be about 4 – 6 minutes apart. I believe this to be "normal" from our prenatal classes. We are on #7 highway on our way to Winnipeg. Valerie says, "She is too hot turn on the air conditioning". Ok, air conditioning on full blast. Ok, another contraction, things are going still going "normal". One minute later Valerie says "she’s cold, turn on some heat. Ok, air conditioning off heat on full blast". For those people who don’t know #7 is a four-lane highway from Stonewall to Winnipeg. I come up behind two cars traveling side by side on the four-lane highway. This is a big pet peeve of mine at the best of times. I am just about to lay on the horn and Valerie says no don’t honk; we don’t want to make a scene. Ok, I have to keep Mamma happy, so I eventually do get around these vehicles and continue on. Hazard lights are flashing, I am speeding as much as I could without getting Valerie upset. Remember this one fellas – "If Mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy". I start to wonder where are the police when I need them. Now Valerie says, "open the windows I am burning up here". Ok, heat off – windows down. I try to hold her hand, just as she has another contraction. She pulls her hand away, I am now thinking to myself, ok you do your thing and I will do my thing. It was like an invisible wall between us. I can see the perimeter, almost home free. It is now about 4:45 p.m. Of course we are facing rush hour traffic when we get into the city. The contractions were getting a little quicker but we are still in the "normal range." I am really starting to hate red lights at this point. We are now by the old Labatt’s brewery on Notre Dame Avenue now. We continue past Labatt’s and now I begin to loose control of the situation again, all of a sudden Valerie has two contractions one after another. This is not the "normal range" anymore. I realize we are in lot of trouble now. But I can almost see the hospital. More red lights – yikes!!! Just a little clarification of our situation again. For those who don’t know about Notre Dame Avenue and the Woman’s Pavilion, you cannot turn left off Notre Dame to the Hospital. You actually have to go past the Hospital, around KFC, turn on Sherbrook Street, back on to Notre Dame going west to get to the Woman’s Pavilion. So back to the story, we are now right across from the Hospital and Valerie says "Oh my god!! The baby is coming out". I have never panicked as I did right at that moment!!! We are now a little past the Pavilion, at another red light. Things are really happening, I realize I cannot make it now, gotta do something. Put the truck in park and open my door. Valerie must have wondered where in the heck is he going. Remember, we are on a busy Notre Dame Avenue I am in panic mode. I begin to get out, and then I realize not the right thing to do. To this day I don’t know what I was going to do, but I have come up with 3 things #1 – I was going to run around and help Valerie; #2 – I was going to run and get help and #3 – I was just going to run!!!! So now I close the door, think to myself I have a truck – let’s go over the boulevard. Away we go over the center boulevard, people must of thought I was nuts going right across the oncoming traffic, I thought I was nuts too. We pull into the parking lot at the Pavilion, right up by the steps of the front doors. Get out; run around to the passenger side, I notice a couple of people standing on the steps. I yell at the people to get some help, my wife is having a baby like right now. I am not really sure if that is how it came out; maybe more like this " Help bla bla wife bla bla baby bla bla bla hurry bla bla bla". Another quick clarification to this story; we own a 1993 Blazer 4 door, with bucket front seats with a console between the seats. Now picture Valerie trying to prop herself up on the console in the front of our truck, not the best situation for delivering a baby now is it. Anyway, I try to help Valerie as best as I can. Lower her pants, I could definitely see the baby was on the way out. Look back at the people I yelled at, notice they haven’t moved. Panic is still rampant, figure I better get some help myself. I run to the front doors myself, hearing a faint sound of Ouch!!!. Turns out I slammed the door on Valerie’s foot, oooops! I run through the front doors and yell at the security guard to get some help my wife is having a baby. He took off like a shot. I ran back to assist Valerie.

Let me just put something into perspective here; it has only been about 5 minutes since Valerie said those words " … the baby is coming…" Looking back it is amazing how many things can go through a persons mind in a short time. Here is a brief summary of what I was thinking during this short period. Oh my God, what happens if something goes wrong, maybe the cord will be wrapped around the baby’s neck, maybe the baby won’t cry? Maybe Valerie will start to hemorrhage and what do I do if she does? Maybe the baby won’t be breathing. Boy, I can hardly wait till fishing season opens. Why don’t they have a turn off into the Hospital from Notre Dame, we never took any of this in prenatal class? Why is this happening to me? Boy are there a lot of red lights in the City. How am I going to get Valerie into the hospital? Why did the Winnipeg Jets have to leave? Why didn’t those people go get me help? Is anyone coming to help? Where does the white go when the snow melts??? And many many more things. My last thought was "ok let’s see if we can get this baby into the world ourselves". So I again start to help Valerie. I say ok lets give a good push. Valerie gives a big push and low and behold the baby comes out fairly easy. The baby is very bluish / purple at this point, it seemed like an eternity before anything happened. I starting thinking again, what happens if the baby doesn’t cry, if it doesn’t breath? I remembered from prenatal class that sometimes the baby’s mouth may be blocked and I was about to sweep my finger in the baby’s mouth to clear any blockage when it let out a most wonderful cry. I looked up at Valerie and she is smiling. I tell her she that she got her Girl!! I just wanted a happy and healthy baby. We wrapped the baby in one of the towels and Valerie held her on her chest. Then the cavalry came running up, nurses and doctors everywhere, I think to myself, where were you guys when I needed you? They quickly took over to make sure baby and Mommy were doing ok. I step back a little and finally got the thumbs up things are ok. I am then asked, " Would you like to cut the cord?" of which I replied, "Naa, go ahead, I think I have done enough already". Our baby is quickly taken into the Hospital, followed shortly by my wife in a wheelchair. Of course I am left by myself on the steps to regroup. I think I walked around in a little bit of a daze for a couple of minutes. Then I figured I better park the truck and find my family. I would like to thank Allison for suggesting the garbage bag. It wasn’t that messy, but I just rolled everything up in the bag and threw it into the garbage. You would never know there was a baby delivered in our truck. So anyway, I go park the truck in the parkade, go into the hospital and ask, "Where is my family?" They instruct me to go to the third floor. I gave my name to admitting and they stated we would get the other information later. What a way to get through admitting, quick eh!! I go upstairs and find Valerie who was getting some work done to her, which I know, was tougher on her than the childbirth. She’s not good with needles. But everything turned out ok. Everyone was in good shape, even me! We sat around for a while waiting for a room to open up. I decided to go make some phone calls to our parents and to Ashleigh. This was kinda cute, I was on a phone beside a woman who was waiting to have a baby of her own. She was explaining to the person on the other end how this baby was born in the parking lot. I kinda gave her a smile and she then realized that it was my baby and we had a good little laugh. Allison and Ashleigh came for a quick visit that evening. I decided to leave around 9:30 p.m., went home and had a good stiff shot of whiskey.

Here our some items I may have not covered in this story:

  1. Morgan Aldis Hartle Bjornsson was born at approximately 5:20 p.m., April 7, 1999 weighing 8lbs 12 ounces.
  2. We figure Valerie’s water broke about 4:15 p.m. and Morgan was born about 5:20 p.m., pretty quick labor. Valerie had told me her other pregnancies were quick.
  3. Ashleigh was sure her mom was going to have a boy and didn’t really believe Morgan was ours.
  4. I am still waiting for a tax refund from the government for delivering the baby myself.
  5. Valerie stayed in the hospital that evening, all the next day and the following evening. First thing the following day Valerie phones at 7:00 am and says come pick us up I am showered and Morgan and I are ready to go. I think she would’ve come home the day before if she could have.
  6. Our truck was slightly damaged going over the boulevard. Turned out my ABS sensor was damaged ($200 repair bill – don’t worry Morgan will pay me back sometime).
  7. When a baby comes quickly like Morgan, I was told, there are usually no complications - of course I found this out after it was done.

We got everybody home safe and sound and Morgan and the rest of the family are doing great. I will never let Morgan forget this for as long as I live – HAHA!!

Ps – I have a blast telling this story for first time – expecting fathers.

Pss – Love your kids – they are very precious – Trust me I know.

Blair Bjornsson