For one Vancouver family, this year’s Labour Day isn’t going to be forgotten anytime soon.
Karl Smith and his girlfriend Chelsea Azak welcomed their fourth child into the world on Monday but they didn’t even know Chelsea was pregnant.
“We thought it was a pinched nerve,” said Smith, speaking of what they now know was early labour pains.
Early Monday morning, when Azak started complaining of back pain, Smith spent some time rubbing her back and trying to make her feel more comfortable. But it was about 3:30 a.m. and Azak couldn’t sleep.
“I told her to go and take a bath,” said Smith.
Half an hour later, he delivered his baby girl into the world.
“After I saw she was in labour, I called 911, put my phone beside the tub and delivered the baby,” said Smith. “At first I was nervous but then my dad instincts kicked in and I just focused on what I was doing.”
Azak and their new daughter – Selena Deshanna Laverne Smith – are now resting at BC Women’s Hospital.
Dr. Deborah Money, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Columbia, said while these surprise births are rare, they are not unheard of.
After hearing these stories, many people wonder how a woman can carry a baby to term and not know about it. Money said the honest answer is that they don’t entirely know why.
“For some women, typically who have perhaps irregular menstrual cycles, or infrequent menstrual cycles as part of their natural background, who maybe have been on some sort of birth control that they thought was working that obviously wasn’t, simply put down all of the symptomatology of pregnancy to one or other explanation,” she said.
“We certainly see it where they go through a pregnancy and are genuinely not aware that they are pregnant.”
Money said some women might just deny they could be pregnant or if they are overweight they might not notice the physical appearance changes and think maybe they’ve just put on some weight. She added that pregnancy symptoms can often be put off as something else.
“When you think about them; you’re more tired, you’re off your food, you have stomach cramps or funny sensations and some discomfort, you feel heavier, your breasts are sore. Every one of those symptoms in isolation you can dismiss as something else,” she said.
“And even the fetal movement, you think ‘oh my goodness how can you not realize that?’, often babies move a lot at night when you’re asleep, not so much during the day when you’re active, and if you’re not tuned in, and wanting to try and recognize it and you’re somebody who has an upset stomach or cramps or whatever from time to time, that presumably is what people are dismissing.”
“Every big emergency department, we’ll see it where women come in complaining of pain and they’re not feeling well and finally somebody realizes they’re in labour,” said Money.
Smith is now looking forward to bringing Selena home enjoying their expanded family.
“It’s going to be a really good story to tell her when she grows up,” he said.