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‘I couldn’t keep it in’: Mom recalls moment ‘warrior baby’ born in moving ambulance on Saskatoon bridge

All Rayshell Charles could see as she lay in the ambulance were the flower-shaped Christmas decorations hanging from the lamp posts over Saskatoon’s University Bridge.

“And I was like, ‘I’m almost there, I’m almost there’. I couldn’t hold it in anymore,” said Charles, whose daughter Akira Hope Laban was born in the ambulance as it crossed the bridge Tuesday morning.

Charles remembers yelling that she was going to push, then the paramedic who was driving called into the back to ask if he needed to stop. 

“Then the other ambulance lady was like ‘nope, she’s already out, keep going!'” said Charles, laughing as she spoke from Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon on Wednesday. 

Charles said a doctor had told her earlier in the pregnancy that the baby girl had only a two per cent chance to live. 

“She’s a little fighter, that’s for sure,” said Charles, who is from La Ronge, Sask. 

“It’s been a rough journey for her.” 

Charles found herself in a Prince Albert, Sask., hospital In the 21st week of her pregnancy, after her water broke. 

She was told at the time that her daughter’s chances of survival were slim, but said still she had hope. 

At 31 weeks her water broke again and she was sent to Saskatoon. Charles was treated and released to a hotel with some strong antibiotics to take. 

When she started to get contractions early Tuesday morning she thought it was the antibiotics, which had been giving her cramps.

Charles decided to get a cab to the hospital but the pains got worse as she was on her way down to the hotel lobby.

“I was like ‘oh my gosh I can’t call a cab, I’ve got to call an ambulance,'” said Charles.

Hotel staff called the paramedics for her. 

The ambulance was crossing a bridge close to the Royal University Hospital but baby Akira couldn’t wait to be born. (Steve Pasqualotto/CBC)

Charles said she was in tears as the paramedics put the baby on her after she was born in the ambulance. 

She sees her daughter as a “warrior baby.”

Medavie Health Services spokesperson Troy Davies said Tuesday that delivering a baby in a moving vehicle isn’t easy but the crew did a great job in a tough situation. 

He said it is rare for a woman to give birth in an ambulance.  

“There was no waiting,” said Davies. “Baby wanted out immediately.”

Charles said the baby’s father, George Laban, is excited to meet Akira when he arrives from La Ronge on Wednesday. 

Charles said this was her fourth child, so she she knows the drill, but “not like this.”

“I’m just overwhelmed and in shock still, I can’t believe she’s here,” said Charles. 

Akira was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit immediately after arriving in hospital. Charles was able to visit and feed her for the first time on Wednesday.

With files from CBC Radio’s Saskatoon Morning

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