When Annabelle Steele went into labour early Wednesday morning, the plan was for her and her husband Joseph to drive from their home in Steinbach to hospital in Winnipeg to deliver twins.
About 10 kilometres into the drive, it became clear they weren’t going to make it.
“She said, ‘Call 911, because it’s happening,'” said Joseph. “I’ll be honest, I really did not want to pull over.”
The couple ended up on the side of the road in Blumenort, Man., with the 911 operator on the phone explaining to Joseph what to do next.
About five minutes later their little girl arrived.
“I was in the passenger seat up front and that’s where Gracie Mae was born,” said Annabelle. “I think I was just concentrating on my breathing and, I don’t know, pushing.”
“There was all these emotions, but at the same time there wasn’t really time to focus on them,” said Joseph. “I did what I had to.”
It wasn’t long before paramedics arrived and the decision was made to transport them back to Steinbach so she could deliver the baby boy at Bethesda Regional Health Centre, he said.
But there were complications.
When Ephraim was born in the emergency department, they said he wasn’t breathing.
“We were just kind of there watching, very worried,” said Annabelle.
Joseph said a respiratory specialist with STARS ambulance and the team was able to put the newborn baby boy on a ventilator.
“At that point things really begun to look better,” said Joseph. “It was still extremely terrifying.”
Once the twins were stable the family was transferred to Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.
Annabelle was discharged Friday afternoon, but the twins remain in the neonatal intensive care unit. While Ephraim no longer needs a ventilator, his parents say he still requires oxygen.
“Gracie Mae, she’s pretty strong,” said Annabelle. “They keep telling us in the NICU that girls are pretty strong and boys are kind of, you know, they take their time.… He’s taking his time.”
They hope they’ll be able to take the twins home in the next couple weeks to join their siblings Venezia, 7, and Eli who just had his first birthday.
“It was quite stressful, but we’re very, very thankful that everything, everything turned out OK,” said Annabelle. “They’re still recuperating, but it’s a relief that all those nurses and doctors are there.… It could have gone much worse, but they were there for us.”
Joseph said he’s extremely grateful to everyone that’s been involved in their care.
“I don’t remember names, I remember faces, I see those every time I close my eyes,” said Joseph. “They all know who they are.”
And he says one thing is certain, his wife is the strongest woman he knows.
“Just amazing,” he said.
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